19.1.08

"I'm Buffy, and you're history!"



I don't know if it's just me, but girls on TV these days (unless we're counting Ugly Betty) - especially TV aimed at under-25s (ok, under-21s), are boring- either they OD, run away from home and die on The O.C.* (after short stops at kleptomania and shooting people), or they squabble over who's been stealing whose boyfriend on One Tree Hill**, or they squabble over who's been stealing whose boyfriend on Gossip Girl*** and everywhere else- blaaaaaaaaah.
Maybe it's old-fashioned and a little soapboxy, but I really do miss a time when " intelligent TV show about teens/young people" wasn't an oxymoron, and there was actually a point to a show's female lead besides what she wore and who she got off with, on and off screen. More specifically, I miss one show- and which one it is should be obvious from the title of this post. Heroes might be the latter-day successor to it as far as showing us how ordinary people feel having superpowers goes (and we certainly do have the cheerleader and a save-the-world angle), but I miss Buffy mouthing off at nearly every vamp she fought. Nothing's quite as funny, or smart, or staggeringly well-plotted (Joss Whedon had the ending of Season 5 foreshadowed by the end of Season 3- that was the level of planning that went into it). There aren't quite as many
clichés being stood on their heads (little blonde in a miniskirt who isn't quite so great at academics?). And while all the shows of today feature girls in pretty dresses, no one's going to go fight a giant vampire and save the world in one.
Sounding gushy is a bit of a risk here, since I more or less grew up watching
Buffy. The Season 1 finale image of her in her white dress and leather jacket with a crossbow in her hands was and still is one of the coolest things I've ever seen, and gave me a lifelong girlcrush on Sarah Michelle Gellar- who proved time and again that she deserves much better film roles than the horror/fluff rubbish she's been getting. And as for the sartorial front - whether it was Giles's tweeds, Spike's leather duster, or even Drusilla's**** Victorian nightgowns and obsession with dolls, not to mention one great comedy moment when Buffy slit a too-tight skirt with a paper knife so she could kick a demon, they didn't do too badly. It might not have paid attention to fashion the way Sex and the City etc. did, but that really wasn't the point. Some people might say Carrie's giant flower was the iconic image of 90s TV - but to me, it's always going to be a long way behind the white dress, leather jacket and crossbow. It might not have been the most original of ideas, but I don't think I'd be too far off the mark if I said it's a huge influence on how I'd like to come across, even now (obviously, not Californian or blonde...but that mixture of tough and pretty is definitely what I'd want my default dress-up mode to be). But it's hard not to love Buffy- she may look and occasionally behave like an airhead blonde, but her courage, wit and sheer bloodymindedness are all things that I wished I had. And how I miss her..
*which is still running here.
** I'm not sure if that show's getting aired in India any more.
***even though I watch it every week.
****
a comparatively minor character.

31 comments:

Donna said...

I miss Buffy, and am disappointed at the lack of stronger female characters in TV for the younger generations. Granted there are shows now like CSI that do feature great female leads, but I'm talking about girl-to-woman characters that girls and younger women can look up to.

Actually, there were whispers that Joss Whedon was gearing up to work with Eliza Dushku to start up another show. That's something that looks promising.

WendyB said...

How dare you call Drusilla "minor"! *shock!* She was my favorite. :-)
Well,I loved Darla too; she really knew how to do evil, especially in Angel.

Cee-Cee said...

Buffy!!i miss her too..

Heroes is quite good though.

susie_bubble said...

I must say... I never did get into Buffy like a lot of my friends did.... I was more of a Roswell person....

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I loved both shows but was a little embarrassed to admit to being a Roswell fan (I actually identify Katherine Heigl more as Isabel from that show, than her character on Grey's Anatomy)...those aliens were hot, but Season 2 wasn't so great.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Donna: Those rumours floated around back when Buffy ended- I don't think it'll happen, since Eliza Dushku said it never got past the vague idea stage.
Wendy: She didn't stick around all that much- but she was fab (plus, she had Spike!). I'm not that much of an Angel fan, though.
Cee-Cee: Heroes is good, but it's still not quite my thing. Maybe I'm just getting set in my ways with age..

The Clothes Horse said...

I miss Gilmore Girls (in the beginning) where the main character is the good girl and the bookworm. Buffy was sweet though--I love a girl who can kick some a**.

Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

you are right they have gone downhill, tv has gone downhill in general the quality of the shows is just not there anymore...i remember the glory days back in the 80s and early 90s!

enc said...

Hmmmmm. "My So-Called Life?" Was that the last show that featured intelligent teens?

Those were the days.

lalaliu said...

I LOVE LOVEd Buffy!! I'm so sad it's gone now. That was the highlight of my tv watching days...with all the sci-fi-esque shows floating around, but these days my heart is saddened that all the teen-ish shows I can watch are overdramatic teenagers that have nothing better to do than great drama drama drama! I do love heroes though :), I was such a Buffy geek that I flaked on studying for my finals just so I could watch the finale. Haha, those were the days :D

Margherita. said...

You should check out Veronica Mars, like Buffy its a show with a strong female lead. Veronica is tough, witty and full of spunk.

I'd really suggest it, its an amazing show. It only lasted 3 seasons due to poor advertising techniques and channel changes, but those 3 seasons are on DVD.

the iron chic said...

I miss Gilmore Girls too. The female lead character was unapologetically smart for once.
I don't get Ugly Betty though- why does she have to look so non-human and scary?

headmistress said...

ah, I was just thinking about the change in TV of late the other day, watching Torchwood for the first time, only because it had Spike in it (he will always be spike for me!) (Such a disappointment mind, like a paunchy, wrinkled, washed up version of his char in Buffy... Though John Barrowman is fascinating.) Tv these days seems to lack the kick-assness of Buffy and its freshness is sorely missed - instead we have all this über-cool teen mulch, of bored and beautiful boys and girls. Heroes is excellent though, but I have yet to see if it will keep the energy that Buffy did for so many seasons. And you're right, there is nothing with the subtlety and humour of Buffy.
god, I could wax nostalgic on buffy for so long! My own sartorial faves of the show are the school dance one - where Buffy gets that parasol (my lil sis did an art project based on that!) And I think there's an episode with Spike in the 70's, slaying the slayer on a subway, all punkish and lovely. But I hated Tara's ren-fayre-ish frocks, yeurgh.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

The Clothes Horse: I was a Gilmore Girls fan too! How I loved Rory for being smart and not all about the boys- it was a brilliant show, at least as far as I saw it (Season 5).
Jen: I never really used the TV for anything other than playing VHS tapes till the mid-to-late 90s, but even I can see things have gone downhill..
ENC: It wasn't quite so bad, but I do get a 'those were the days' feeling when flipping channels these days.
La La: I did that too (bunked off studying to watch the series finale)!
Margherita: I've heard a lot of good things about Veronica Mars..thanks for the recco.
The Iron Chic: Personally, I don't think Betty is ugly, but at least the show is funny. Smart females are such a rarity on TV, I'll take mine as I find them..
Headmistress: Oh, how I used to drool over Spike (and Dru)...and paunchy Spike? NOOOOOOOO! Maybe it's just me being a barmy old codger, but I definitely think girls on TV these days are presented as sex objects and schemers, and very little else. Heroes is good all right, but it's a touch too angsty for me (though I love the cartoonist).
As for the Buffy wardrobe, I loved her prom dress (and the class protector parasol, so pretty!) too- and I, like you, detested Tara's frocks. But my favourite still remains that leather jacket over the pretty dress. And maybe it's just morbid me, but the fact that Spike's duster had that history behind it was so cool, I thought..

drumtheater said...

How do you manage to still regularly follow tv shows when you're not living at home?

the iron chic said...

You live in India?! Interesting...we have a little India in Toronto. That's as close as I've been but I love it there.

Bianca said...

You have a great blog. Wanna link?

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Drumtheater: Via the hostel TV.
The Iron Chic: I've never been to a Little India anywhere. Must be interesting..
Bianca: Done, and linked!

Romeika said...

I hear you! I was such a big fan of "Buffy", and for that I've been always made fun of, by those who had never seen the show and accused it of being trash and bad, can you believe it?:-S

That scene you've described it's such a deja vu... It's part of my teenagerhood, how I miss that show! The thing with Buffy is that it mixed a lot of genres, I suppose that always made it hard for it to be nominated in important awards shows, such as the Emmys. Sarah's portrait was amazing, she deserved better recognition at that time and these days she should be getting better roles, I agree..

For more I was a little disappointed with its last season, I loved the previous ones, especially the second, the third and the fifth. And that Buffy musical special episode was just so original and creative.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Romeika: Yay for Buffy fans! I've always believed it went unappreciated because awards voters thought teen TV show=stupid. It more or less set off the trend for action shows with female protagonists (Charmed, Alias, Dark Angel etc all came after it) - I can't believe 'The Body' and the musical episode (which actually had good music) didn't get nominated for Emmys. Esp. Sarah in the former- it was so close to like that it got uncomfortable to watch at times.
Season 7 wasn't so good, you're right, but I kept watching because of Spike. But picking a favourite between Season 1-5 is impossible for me :)

In Yr Fshn said...

Too true! I miss Buffy somehting awful. Have you seen the graphic novels? If you can still imagine the way their voices sound, it's pretty good substitute...

riz said...

This is really a great essay piece. I agree with you especially about Gossip Girl which is the most prominent example of this right now. I now see why it's demise is so rapid in the eyes of many female viewers. I mean it is pretty much just plain boring at this point. It's not even about the discovery of adolescent female legitimacy or agency at all...

Blue Floppy Hat said...

In Yr Fashn: I haven't been able to get hold of the graphic novels, even though I know they exist- I've seen a few scans online but that's it.
Riz: Thank you :). Part of me is just tired of the fact that the heroines of teen TV shows for the last few years have mostly been such whiny/bitchy victims. Nice to see I'm not the only one who feels that way..

evie said...

"Well, I'm not exactly shaking in my stylish yet affordable boots, but there's definitely something unnatural going on here..."

i know i'm a little late to get into this "i love buffy too" conversation (boy am i behind in catching up on everyone's blog) but here it is... i love buffy and i miss it. no other tv show/ heroine has quite captivated me like this one did. i remember being obsessed about everything and even knew all her witty punchlines by hard! buffy, angel, spike... sigh.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Evie, you're never too late to share the Buffy love! She was by far the coolest girl on TV in the last ten years. And I was one of those crazy nuts who used to haunt Buffy messageboards...I rather miss doing that these days.

evie said...

i'm practically restraining myself from jumping up and down in glee and saying "me too me too". i was regarded as a bit of a geek for knowing my buffyverse too well, but i managed to convert one or two non-believers. once they sat down through an entire episode, it was no turning back and they were hooked! ah.. the good ol' days

dreamecho said...

well, since we're all talking about the old WB shows...

definitely missing out on the rory as "good girl/bookworm" in gilmore girls that the clothes horse mentioned....

also loved roswell like susie...

and to this day associate katherine heigl with her roswell character like you!

never was much into buffy, but TOTALLY dig the vulnerable warrior that she was.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Sorry for the delayed response, guys..
Evie: Buffy fangirlism is the best! It was always easy to get into it if one had a little backstory...I even watched the bad 1992 movie the TV series was based on (and SMG is the better Buffy, by far).
Dreamecho: I loved Gilmore Girls too, and even more because Rory more or less grew along with me. Roswell's first season was brilliant, but they kind of lost the plot after Season 2, with random aliens and people getting married. But before that, Jason Katims really did do a great job with making stuff seem like it mattered.

Anonymous said...

Came here by chance, but...well, I can relate. I am a 41 year old male - straight and not generally sentimental - who rarely watches TV. And I miss Buffy! I bought the entire DVD set, God help me. But it´s that good.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Sorry to be responding so long after the fact, but part of the brilliance of the show was that you didn't have to be a certain way (teenaged or female or American- I'm two out of those three) to be drawn in to it. And I'd love to own the DVDs, it's THE great underappreciated show of the last decade..

Anonymous said...

I love Roswell too!

Buffy is awesome. Is my favorite show. Now and forever.

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