Woman of December: Buffy Summers

A long time ago, in 1997, TV kind of sucked for girls who wanted to be more than the girl next door. Think about what was on that year; Friends, Ally McBeal, Clueless: The TV Show, Seinfeld, Family Matters, Step-by-Step. (And my mother wondered why I watched so much MTV. At least MTV had Daria.) Yeah, I know, sounds hyperbolic, but I swear it is true; Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed my world. Before this, I had very few female heroines to believe in. I never connected with Wonder Woman – she was before my time and I always had a problem believing in an invisible ride. There was She-Ra, but that was a cartoon, and in 1997 I was 15. I was beyond cartoons. So, when I started seeing promos for Buffy, I got semi-excited. I had also seen the movie, which I liked, but not enough to invest in a 90210/Vampire Slayer series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The show debuted in March; I watched episode 1. I loved it. I never looked back. I was a dedicated viewer until the show ended in 2003. I feel like Buffy was a gift from Joss Whedon to girls everywhere. So, as a thank you, we’re making Buffy Anne Summers our Woman of December:

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Look, before Buffy, your life was black and white. I don’t care who you are, that show definitely added some flair to (at least) your vocabulary, sass, and possibly even your hairstyle. Joss wrote a smart show for teens. Sure, we had eye-rolling, and lots of angst, but, honestly the show was pretty damn adult most of the time. When a 16-year-old girl is The Chosen One, she sort of forfeits her own life for mankind. That sucked a lot. Buffy wasn’t just about saving mankind, though, it was about a tiny, 5 foot nothing, blonde haired girl saving mankind. She never wore a special costume. She was rarely thanked. News crews didn’t follow her around. She never got paid. Hell, she never even had a car! She felt lonely often. Living on a Hellmouth meant that she never had the time to actually sit and pout, though. There were always vampires and other baddies that needed her full attention. The life of Buffy Summers went like this: Wake up, get ready for school, go to school, bored, see Giles and other Scoobies in the library about the latest monster problem, get into trouble with your trollish high school principal, go train and get better at killing monsters, go home to eat something and possibly do homework before it gets dark, lie to Joyce, pretend to go to bed. Sneak out and patrol the cemeteries and streets of Sunnydale until the wee morning hours, kill all the bad beasties until the entire town is safe, go home, sleep. DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN TOMORROW. No days off, ever. If she was able to go to The Bronze, then it was always undercover. She was on constant alert. Six seasons and she only really threw a fit a couple of times. Ask me today who my hero is, and it will still be Buffy.

90s television was funny, and I still love many of the shows, but Buffy gave us so much more; Aside from Buffy, we had Giles, Willow, Xander, Oz, Cordelia, Angel, Spike, Tara, Anya, and Dawn – our Scoobies. Of course, Oz and Cordelia eventually left, along with Angel, and Dawn didn’t even show up until Season 4, but Buffy always had a team which she relied on. She was smart enough to realize that teamwork worked best during an apocalypse, which could and would happen anytime, often. The witty banter and funny dialogue kept my attention. 15-year-old me cared about words then, too. I suspect Joss Whedon helped further that love a bit. Buffy was not all fun and games. As the series wore on, the theme became darker, harder to deal with. The issues became actual life and death issues. As a girl grew up into a woman, she was forced to make adult decisions. We rallied behind her, cried with her, yelled at her, wanted more for her, and wished we could be a part of the gang to help her. We understood why she bailed that time. We cried when she had to kill the vampire she lost her virginity to. It wasn’t her fault he turned evil and tried to kill everyone. After being bullied, stalked, and tormented by the love of her life she came to an understanding within herself and by herself, which she then taught me. What’s left when you have no one else to fight for you? Yourself.

Remember Shakespeare? No? Well, in Much Ado About Nothing there is a scene in Act II when Balthasar sings Sigh No More:

 Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,

 Men were deceivers ever,

 One foot in sea and one on shore,

 To one thing constant never.

 Then sigh not so, but let them go,

 And be you blithe and bonny,

 Converting all your sounds of woe

 Into Hey, nonny nonny.

 Sing no more ditties, sing no more

 Of dumps so dull and heavy.

 The fraud of men was ever so,

 Since summer first was leavy.

 Then sigh not so, but let them go

 And be you blithe and bonny,

 Converting all your sounds of woe

 Into Hey, nonny nonny.

Why am I mentioning Shakespeare? Because he matters and Joss Whedon knew it; he didn’t write Buffy to be a love story, guys. He wrote it to remind adolescent girls growing up that they could be anyone they wanted to be. Reminding us that men were not imperative to our courses of action; Love comes and goes, but at the end of the day – at the end of our lives, all we have is ourselves. Joss beat this into our heads over and over. Buffy never had a relationship that worked out. That’s okay. She saved the world a lot. What’s more important? For the duration of the series Buffy had to choose; a relationship or the world. The end of the series was the major gift, though. The last episode Buffy and Willow channeled Buffy’s powers into all of the potential slayers of the world. Never again would a woman alone have to choose and be lonely. In that moment, we were all slayers.

Merry Christmas

5 thoughts on “Woman of December: Buffy Summers

  1. I just started my foray into Buffy The Vampire Slayer not too long ago. I was probably seven when it first aired. That doesn’t seem to matter because I’ve fallen head over heels with it in no time. The show is kind of timeless because of the lessons Whedon put in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you are watching!!! When you get to the tough stuff just know we have all been there, too. It’s the best. I’m jealous you are just now watching! Tell me what you think when you are done!!!

      Like

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