I finished my initial run through of Buffy the Vampire Slayer earlier this week, and have had some time to sit on the ending, ruminate on the series, and pull some thoughts together. In the wake of completion, I’ve spent a few hours here and there exploring that world that is devotion to Buffy. That Buffy has found a lasting cult following is an understatement of overwhelming proportions. It’s worth a minute to consider that following.
There are at least a handful posts that I plan to devote to the show, which will probably balloon into more, throwing several thousand more words at a television program that has already earned more devoted scribbling than any to come before it. Academics, cultists, lovers of popular culture, all have found an apparently boundless ocean of material to write about Buffy.
And into this ocean I’m going to throw a few stones. Buffy Studies (as the field is called) has journals both in print and online that have been running for 10+ years, academic conferences (Slayage Conference #6, 2014 in Sacremento, CA) held around the world, books and classes and a whole strange and wonderful network of thought wholly devoted to the Slayer.
Third Ten Million Years comes much later to this endeavor and makes no claim to add anything to the discussion other than one more (insightful?) reaction and interpretation. I just want to acknowledge those who have been, for a decade, unpacking BTVS, a truly remarkable consideration. Ten years later 30-something men are still discovering the show and an appetite to explore it. That alone is a testament of the accomplishment of Joss Whedon and his fellow Buffy creators
It’s possible that this is just me. Perhaps the appetite for BTVS, outside that small academic following and the Whedon die-hards, has waned. After all, the show ended its seven season run 10 years ago, and it was well before the show’s demise that avid devotion of those most attentive fans began creating a culture of cult around Buffy and her pals. The ensuing years have seen almost comical devotion to the show, at such a high-level of enthusiasm that it seems impossible that such a fevered impulse can remain.
By the end of the series, ten years ago, in fact, Emily Nussbaum was already asking in the NY Times if the world had tired of all the Buffy-worship with her aptly titled article “Sick of Buffy Cultists? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Writes Nussbaum on Buffy‘s end:
“If it’s sad to have one’s favorite show go off the air, the secret truth is, it’s also a relief. A television cult can’t really start in earnest until the show has ended. (See: ”Freaks and Geeks.” No, really, see it.) For all its pleasures, appointment TV is also a lot of pressure. There’s the anxiety of raised expectations, the friendship-threatening debates over the proper plot arc, the misfiring VCR’s, the leaked plot spoilers. Now everything is spoiled, and we can settle in and enjoy — treat the story as one big, satisfying narrative. Few shows reward rewatching as much as ”Buffy,” a series which might appear campy at first sight, but over time reveals as many layers as Tony Soprano’s Oedipal complex…Now that the show is over, fans can explore such connections with a sense of perversely satisfying closure.”
This depth is self-evident in BTVS, and even 10 years later, this eagerness to reach the series’ conclusion, to finally look back at the whole and begin working out the details of a campy teen girl show has motivated untold blog posts and journal articles and cult-nerd conversations. I can’t wait to write about and think about and re-watch episodes to reveal something new. And I will. But in the endeavor will also be another objective, like all Whedon fans before me and to follow, to encourage lovers of popular culture, sci-fi horror, fantasy, wit or just excellent and creative television to take the plunge.