Analysis / Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The ultimate description of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is its own title

Well not quite, but for a show that is so full of tropes, it is quite tempting to just try and define it with a single, short, unusually capitalised phrase; so we might as well use the one it already provided for us.

Buffy

Inside the title the name of the heroine shows the young side of a young/old juxtaposition. The show has a focus on youth so expect Adults Are Useless. In an effort to avoid Totally Radical, we had Buffy Speak. Really it's still the result of a thirty-five year old trying to write dialogue for teenagers. Other thing to note is the tone of the name, irreverence. That tone appears in Buffy's Establishing Character Moment. Finally it's the Character in the Character Name and the Noun Phrase and the hero is undeniably that character. While we may have a Hero's journey, expect a dark side. If the writers go off the track with the hero then the viewers go off the show. For instance, the seasonal rot in season six is connected to viewers discomfort with Buffy's behaviour.

The

Well, see above but quote with us now "In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer." (emphasis added) The starting voice over informed us that she was The One and we saw in the starting season the tropes that accompany The Chosen One in high school: I Just Want to Be Normal, It Sucks to Be the Chosen One, The Only One, Refusal of the Call. Then in season 2, we learn There Is Another. Then after that season she runs away but The Call Knows Where You Live and so on. Eventually in the end there is an attempt to Screw Destiny and we come up with The Chosen Many.

In this series, the "the", unlike some other shows, is an indication of being The Only One which gets reflecting in many of The Call tropes recurring and running through as a theme.

Vampire

One notably fact about the first season was the lack of vampire villains. Really the vampires in the title provide the old side of the young/old juxtaposition. So its not just Our Vampires Are Different, it's possibly all Our Monsters Are Different. The old legends will be taken and put up against youth culture (and bazookas). Also, vampires = fantasy genre and one important aspect for a piece in the genre is Applicability versus Allegory. Buffy fell on the allegory side, sometimes rather blunty, so the Aesops and associated tropes came with it.

Slayer

This indicates several things but above all, an action show. Consider then its aim of having a "strong" female character in the context of an action show. She can be emotionally messed up and run away, she can get into a messy relationship with a bad boy but she is important and strong because she is physically strong. That is the starting point. This extends to the other characters, Willow is superior to the other "wanna-blessed-be's" because they are worried about wicca as a religion. Willow on the other hand wants to learn magic to fry demon ass.

The ultimate invalidation (and that's a good thing)

We can consider the ending, then, as the ultimate invalidation of the show's ultimate description. Surprisingly, this can be considered the perfect ending for the show, as the show was constantly trying to invalidate its own title:

  • Buffy : We couldn't get rid of Buffy. We killed her twice and her friends kept bringing her back.

  • Vampire : We couldn't get rid of vampires, or even the evil in general, that bug people throughout the series. No matter how many vamps bit the dust, no matter how many Big Bads were taught a lesson, there was always another around the corner.

  • Slayer : Well, we can't get rid of the evils of the world so we need a slayer. The show's mythos takes care of that, insuring that any time a slayer dies, a new one pops up in its place. The slayer can try giving up, but, no matter what, after some Wangst and some Epiphany Therapy, she'll be back.

So how is the title ultimately invalidated? We left one word out:

  • The: at the very end of the show, we the lose the definite article. Buffy releases the magics that limits the number of slayers. She is thus no longer The Slayer, but one of many. Once that happens, all the themes above come to a head. Buffy now could die and we wouldn't notice. The Vampires can be Slayed by someone else. Buffy may still be called "The Vampire Slayer," but it's clear that she is no longer absolutely necessary.

Season 6 was a massive Deconstruction of the series

The focus of the season was the main character's journey to adulthood. There was no long story arc or ancient evil to face. The bad guys are a bunch of nerds who never outgrew their childhood hobbies, symbolizing the fans who only liked the show's sci-fi and supernatural aspects. The real villain is not defeated by the strongest wizard or the mightiest warrior but by the comforting words of a friend. The season ended with Buffy affirming that she wants to live and Spike gets his soul back because the show is not about death or killing but the protection and sanctity of human life and that the world is a beautiful place to be despite all the hardships and tragedy we all face. That's why the Musical Episode was appropriate to Season 6 rather than any other.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Analysis/BuffytheVampireSlayer