If there was any show that has inspired me more than any other, it is 100% Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can’t even deny it; many shows have inspired me as a writer afterward (Parks and Recreation, Battlestar Galactica, and Orphan Black, just to name a few), but none of those even hold a candle to how much Buffy is in the back of my head as I write literally anything.
Like Friends, a badly-aged yet still enjoyable distraction from the bleak existence that is 2018, Buffy has a lot of flaws. It fails miserably as an intersectional feminist work, the romances (and relationships, in general, really) are ultimately unsatisfying in the end, and the supposedly empowering message was seriously troubled by a complete lack of consent in the series finale. And, as you’ve seen throughout this challenge, those are really just the tip of the iceberg on my issues with Buffy.
However, that doesn’t detract from how much it influenced me as a writer in the first place. The quick wit of the characters, the season-long storylines, the solid world-building … it was so different from anything I’d ever watched before that it got my creative brain churning. And like Xena: Warrior Princess*, it made me realize that, yes, I could tell a story about a woman that was just as heart-pounding and exciting as any with a man in the starring role.
No, it’s not perfect, and I don’t expect it to be. I like discussing the show’s shortcomings with fellow fans; it makes me a more critical audience of both what media I consume and what I produce. I can’t go into too much detail, since it’s a major spoiler, but I will say that how Tara was treated was a major source of inspiration for me in later parts of The Legion.
So really, Buffy is every bit as much a How-To as it is a Don’t You Dare Fucking Do This Have You Learned Nothing You Fool. Whether or not the reboot, if it sees the light of day, will correct a lot of the issues with its parent series, it’s going to make other mistakes for creators to learn from, and maybe that is really what I’m trying to take away from this challenge. While I may hate Xander and the writers’ storytelling for Tara, what good is it just to critique it when I can write something better (in theory)? Where there are consequences to patriarchal attitudes? Where supporting characters have as much dignity as their leading counterparts? Where racist actions are treated as such and not just shoved under the rug because, hey, it’s the main character making fun of a woman’s non-white hairstyle?
It’s a goal, right? And dammit, I’m going to shoot for that goal. Or pick whatever sports metaphor you’d like here. Gah, I’m exhausted. Thank GAWD November is over today.
Art Credit: Buffy Wiki
* I will fight anyone on the cultural significance and power behind Xena any day. In the wise words of Jameela Jamil, fucking try me.