6 Questions for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fans from a First-Time Viewer
January 9, 2014 7 Comments
Recently, I finally watched all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in what’s become my customary Netflix binge style. I’d heard about its brilliance, but even after I thoroughly enjoyed his later show Firefly, Joss Whedon’s first television series struck me as plain silly in the few bits I’d caught.
I continue to believe that a fair portion of Whedon’s mojo actually resides in Nathan Fillion, but there’s definitely more to Buffy than girls kicking ass. I did come out of this experience with a few lingering questions, however. Maybe they’ve been hashed out a million times before, or answered in the original movie or Angel, which I have not seen. Maybe y’all can help?
1. Why had I never heard of Riley?
Angel, okay, he got his own show. And Spike basically hijacks the last few seasons. These two vampires, who have killed many, many innocent people in the past, are the only two characters I have ever heard discussed as suitable partners for Buffy (or, not rarely, for the breathless viewer making the comparison). Poor Riley, a fellow student roughly Buffy’s age, a main cast member for a season, a highly trained professional, a basically normal guy with a secret identity fighting evil just like our heroine, a human even, and I don’t remember ever hearing his name from avowed Whedonistas.
His worst feature, as far as I can tell, is a crippling inferiority complex that convinces him Buffy couldn’t love a loser like him who fights slightly less ably than she does. So he can’t handle a powerful woman (METAPHOR!), which is wimpy and annoying, but the show even pins their breakup on Buffy in the end, for not “letting him in.” Is he too boring? Too dependable? Too unwilling to straight up torture and murder Buffy once he loses his soul (METAPHOR!) / brain chip (METAPHOR!!)? That’s … that’s disturbing, fandom.
2. What’s with the gun paranoia?
Bullets don’t stop vampires. Maybe wooden bullets could, though supply chain problems make that impractical as well. So sure, stakes and crossbows and knives and swords and maces and dark magic for everyone.
But vampires are far from the only threat in Sunnydale. They are only one type of demon surrounding the Hellmouth, and most demons don’t have same bizarre wood, sunlight, and holy water weaknesses of vampires; they’re tough, but slaying them is usually achievable with enough conventional weaponry. Buffy has no problem using a rocket launcher to blow a demon to bits. Guns, though, are supposedly “never helpful”.
Even baddies make only sparing use of guns. Apart from one vampire in the first season, only one plot to kill the Slayer involves a handgun – and that’s wielded by a human. Demons even mock the shooter, despite the fact that without magical surgery, Buffy very likely would have died.
I’m hardly an NRA booster. I’d never call guns “good”; but for the goal of, well, killing things? They’re actually pretty effective.
3. Isn’t BuffyBot just the best?
Especially considering how morose the resurrected Buffy is that season. “Boo hoo, I was wrenched back from heaven by selfish amateur magic users claiming to be my friends.” “Wahh, I’m fated for a life of violence and constant peril.” Do your job, lady.
The whole idea of men building robot girlfriends devoid of emotions other than devotion and relentless cheerfulness is, of course, as they say in some circles, “problematic”. I’m not saying BuffyBot would make a great real-life companion, but as a character, she’s hilarious. Her naiveté and utter pride in stating basic facts tangentially related to the conversation at hand is just so charming and adorable. “You’re my friend, and a carpenter!” “School is where you learn!” “That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!”
Yeah, it’s possible that might have become irritating before long.
4. Why do minor character vampires stay all wrinkly headed?
Doubtless the real-world explanation has something to do with makeup and morphing CGI effect costs, as well as clearly marking the minor baddies, but isn’t this kind of weird? The vampires we spend any significant time with look perfectly normal most of the time, only getting their smushy faces on when they’re about to attack.
Maybe all the major vampires have serious jealousy issues with and secretly want to rejoin the living, and only lash out because it’s impossible? I’m excepting The Master, of course, who was disappointingly neither Anthony Ainley nor Derek Jacoby.
5. Why isn’t there a scene in every Bruce Campbell movie featuring a younger version of his character played by Nicholas Brendon?
Or at least one movie, geez. Like, Nicholas Brendon can’t get laid in college, and Bruce Campbell thinks his life would have turned out better if he’d gotten more action, so he goes back in time to help his younger self with his game, but everything he tries to do to help gets screwed up somehow so Nicholas Brendon thinks Bruce Campbell is actively sabotaging his love life so they fight but it turns out there’s ANOTHER time traveler from FURTHER in the future messing with Nicholas Brendon because a child he sires in a one-night stand ends up enslaving the human race so Bruce Campbell and Nicholas Brendon have to team up and WHY DOESN’T THIS MOVIE EXIST???
“Loan shark.” I get it. But … really? Really?