Wait, before anyone gets mad, that is not a rhetorical question. Having seen only one episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and going “sure, yeah, okay, they talk fast, it’s cute” in college, I’m completely mystified by all the people who still bring up Buffy in conversation all the time. And there are a lot of people. Smart people with lives. Many of my friends, in fact. Usually when the subject of Buffy comes up, I nod politely and try to change the subject lest I get reveal my ignorance of the show to what everyone has to admit are its totally insanely rabid fans. I understand both the real cultural (feminism, nerd liberation) and the pop cultural (genre-creating) significance of the show, but could a person just watching Buffy for the first time now actually enjoy it, or did you have to kind of be there? And which episode most perfectly represents the purported best-everness of the show? And really, what could possibly, possibly justify entire academic conferences about Buffy? For real, I’m curious, don’t slay me.

Comments (16)
  1. I think it still stands up, but cultdom does have a way of clouding anything. You may be immune due to hype/worship.

    Some of the very good Buffy episodes mean nothing if you haven’t seen a few others – it’s very serialized. So an episode for a newcomer is a little rough to say.

    My pick would be “The Pack” – it’s the first episode I saw as well (also as a complete skeptic, as I saw the truly horrible original movie in theaters). It’s in the first season, so not much back story has occurred, but it’s not afflicted with some of the budgetary problems that make some of the first episodes cheesy despite some good writing.

  2. Sloth38  |   Posted on Jun 6th, 2008 0

    Actually, I was quite against watching even one episode of “Buffy” (c’mon, those people in high school were weird) until my friend forced me to watch one three years ago. I mean forced. I then spent the next 30 days absorbing the entire 7 season series. I am now quite the Joss Whedon fan, let me tell you. He builds characters really well and keeps them engaging with a great sense of humor mixed with real emotional depth.

    Try “Doppelgangland” for a laugh, “The Gift” for action and drama, or “Hush” for a spooky mix.

  3. I don?t think someone who starts watching it today would be able to get into it, even if they watch it from the beginning. Whenever I watch some of the earlier episodes they?re a little boring and dated.

    My favorite episode is Hush from season 4
    The creepy demons “The Gentlemen” capture the voice of the population of Sunnydale, to steal human hearts without scream. Giles find that in accordance with a legend, the creatures will be destroyed if a lady screams, but Buffy’s gang plus Riley must fight the monsters voiceless.

    I could never pick a ?best? episode but the best season is Season 3.

  4. The show is smart, quippy and entertaining, but by season 4 it becomes masterful. In my opinion, it’s when the time the show enters darker territory, pondering about death, loss, depression, and isolation, that Buffy enters the pantheon of colossal American television.

    Plus, the whole cast is pretty awesome.

  5. The problem with explaining Buffy to someone who’s never watched is that you could never really appreciate the show for watching one outstanding episode. Even if you liked it, most of the significance comes from the build-up and a familiarity with the characters’ histories. It’s a tough show to crack without a hefty time commitment. But it’s crazy worth it.

  6. it’s gilmore girls but spooky.

  7. I think the show wins new fans today because it’s funny. Everything else said above about how well the characters are developed, etc are true. But the snappy dialogue is what hooks people I think.

  8. Chadams  |   Posted on Jun 6th, 2008 0

    I started off later in the canon (thanks to FX’s reruns) and saw that the show was taking a lot of risks by putting Buffy and her family/supporting cast through the wringer (namely by killing them off). I started watch some of the earlier shows and found them to be long on set-up, but satisfying know that the show had every intention of taking said risks.

  9. Don't Knock me Unconscious!  |   Posted on Jun 6th, 2008 0

    If by “You have to be there” you mean “Watch more than one episode” then yes, you have to be there. Joss Whedon is great at directing an ensemble. Buffy has rabid fans not just because of the action and snappy dialogue but because you really feel engaged and a part of every character’s life and development, from high school outcasts to accomplished do-gooders.
    Season six is my favorite-it goes to some very very dark places-but I don’t think it can be appreciated standing alone. I would suggest you watch “Once More With Feeling” from season six. It’s the musical episode (unless you hate musicals) and pretty entertaining. You kind of want to know more about what’s going on after watching it and start of at Season ONE, proper, though it is kind of weak compared to what follows. The AV Club is currently blogging the first and second season of Buffy on their site, check it out and see if it inspires you to pursue this line of self-improvement.

  10. I was a huge fan in middle school and some of high school and the only time I’ve mentioned it recently was when I saw Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof walking around on Mother’s Day. Maybe your friends are smart with lives now, but what about when Buffy was running?

  11. SailorAlphaCentauri  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 -1

    I’m not one of the Joss Whedon fans writing to you today. I have tried to watch several episodes over the years, and I just couldn’t get through one. I got tired of the dialog very quickly, I couldn’t care about the characters, and I couldn’t be bothered to make the investment into watching to care about them.

    I actually did like the Buffy movie because I thought it was supposed to be stupid. I found it hilarious and didn’t mind the lack of depth. Sometimes a good “bad” movie is a fun thing to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

    I tend to be more turned off by things by the rabid fans who act like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like their favorite thing, but I think my disinterest has more to do with not being a fan of the genre that Joss Whedon writes in than anything else.

  12. caringiscool  |   Posted on Jun 10th, 2008 0

    i’ve been wondering about ‘buffy’ myself, actually.
    i have it on my netflix cue, just to see what all the hub-bub is about.

  13. Danielle  |   Posted on Jul 4th, 2008 0

    The first time I watched Buffy was three years ago. I didn’t want to watch it, I thought it would be horrible! Especially after seeing the original movie. My mom however had purchased the first season, so I decided to give it a try since she did spend money on it.

    I was hooked, right from the first episode. Of course that might have to do with the fact that I generally love anything that even mentions vampires…

    I still think that you could definitly get into now, if you watched it.

    For an episode…. Oh. That’s tough. There are a LOT of good episodes, but honestly I’d suggest just starting at the begining with the first episode. If you pick another one you may still like it, but you might not understand some of the parts.

    Yes in the earlier season, some of the refrences are a little dated… But I still think it is a really good show. It’s the perfect mix of humour and drama and has a lot of good messages with being all preachy.

    Give it a try, if you hate it, you hate it. But… You MIGHT like it.

  14. Kate  |   Posted on Mar 24th, 2009 0

    I had never seen a single episode of Buffy until a few months ago. My newfound college friend was watching a favorite episode, and I began watching, curious. She invited me to watch a few more with her. Now, she happened to be watching Season 4, but by the episode “Fear Itself” or “Beer Bad” I was hooked, and spent the next several months watching the entire series. I can’t fully explain its appeal, except that it’s a great mix of action, romance, drama, and comedy. I think anybody could get into nowadays, but I suggest starting with Season 2. because Season 1 is kind of hokey. By the end of the episode “Innocence” I’m sure you’d be hooked.

  15. Cam  |   Posted on Oct 16th, 2009 0

    I found BTVS 4 years ago by complete accident. The only things I knew about it were the title and that Sarah Michelle Gellar was in it. No-one suggested watching it or told me how good it was. I caught it from the first episode and, having no intention of becoming a fan, watched it on and off for a while. Little by little, I was pulled in until eventually I was blown away.

    I highly recommend giving it a chance. Best combo of drama, action, comedy and farce I’ve ever seen.

  16. It’s simple. The show is a mix of different things. Horror, sadness, action, humor and all around awesomeness. The show is amazing. It’s extremely well cast and you can’t help but love the characters. “The Gift” was the first one I saw back when it aired in 2001 and I was hooked. I was in tears at the very end even though I had no idea what was going on. To put it simply, the show is amazing. I would reccomend starting with “Welcome To The Hellmouth” and then “The Harvest”. Since the writers make so many referecences to the other episodes, you would be slightly confused.

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