One week into Cambridge, I’d already met who I now refer to as my “Buffy Bestie,” Rachel. It was an absolute inevitability that I would mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how much it means to me, but I never thought I would be so lucky as to bond with someone over the profound love I have for the show. It probably does seem a tad perplexing that a TV show, especially a supernatural one that hosts vampires, at times questionable (even for its time) special effects and fight scenes, could mean such a monumental amount to me, but it truly does.

At a superficial glance, what appears to be merely a camp, light-hearted, enjoyable “girl-power” show, goes so much deeper

I was around eight years when I discovered Buffy, starting at season six, the penultimate one and certainly the darkest of the whole show. As an only child of a single mother who is also a sister and a best friend to me, I was particularly drawn to watching the dynamics play out between Buffy and her sister. Buffy’s heroic kindness and constant self-sacrificing spoke to me and the lens through which I viewed my mum. Regrettably, I would never describe myself as a happy child, but like any other, I never had the vocabulary to articulate why or how. The one thing that brought me the most immense joy was Buffy.

It was and still is a string that has held me up and seen me through life’s hurdles, trials, and tribulations. I had a sanctuary I could turn to and be invested in. Little eight-year-old-me adored the quick lines, the ‘Scooby Gang’ group, a beautiful white prom dress worn amidst a kick-ass vampire fight and an unflinchingly kind, resilient, open-hearted hero that I could look up to as well as relate to. Despite the times throughout my life when I felt so greatly overwhelmed by certain difficulties, Buffy never left my side. It has always acted as a flotation device, something that would drift in and out of the river to keep me afloat. I can stick on Buffy and see it through the lens of pure, unapologetic childlike wonder, sentimentality and love. It’s hard to articulate or pin down why it is so inherently comforting, but I think in part, it is the very things that make it potentially easy to criticise (its cheap budget, special effects and fight scenes) that are concurrently so endearing, but it is the content, script and storylines that capture the human experience so sensitively, delicately and beautifully that outshines and is key to Buffy.

At a superficial glance, what appears to be merely a camp, light-hearted, enjoyable “girl-power” show, goes so much deeper. It is funny and camp, however as we progress more as a society regarding an abundance of topics such as gender equality, the show certainly isn’t free from problems. However, it was truly profound, broke boundaries and is still so culturally relevant. It is a stunning coming of age series that tackles meaningful and difficult situations that every person can face in life, laced in the metaphors of demons and vampires. Buffy’s episodes shape some of life’s adversities into a demonic metaphor and then have a blonde vampire-slayer cathartically punch it in the face, embellished with a witty pun, what could possibly be more comforting than that?

How can I reconcile that the creator of a show that means so much to me represents everything I disagree with and contests what the show itself stood for?

Premiering in 1994, seeing a young woman be the “thing that monsters have nightmares about” while still maintaining her femininity and having them not be mutually exclusive was monumental. It also explored homosexuality in a character that was initially established as heterosexual, presenting their relationship as beautiful and loving, completely accepted by the friendship group and one of the first to show a lesbian kiss on American television. The show triumphed with its phenomenal and touching musical episode, as well as the deeply devastating score-free episode, The Body. It has stood the test of time so successfully because of its ground-breaking female character, its very buffy-specific dialogue and humour, lovable friendship group, complexly drawn out characters that develop and incredible storylines, episode centric and season driven.


Mountain View

Searching for home in Wong Kar Wai

A part of me felt destroyed upon hearing stories that emerged revealing Whedon’s problematic and abusive nature on the set of Buffy, as well his other projects. One calls into question just how ‘feminist’ he is when one of the actresses, Charisma Carpenter (who played Cordelia Chase) recounted being ‘bullied’ about her weight and her pregnancy, so much so that she still suffers from a long-term injury as a result of it. How can I reconcile that the creator of a show that means so much to me represents everything I disagree with and contests what the show itself stood for? Can we separate the artist from the art and when the show is so vast, collaborative and made up of several creators – are we able to dismiss one, even if he was the central figure?

With every landmark point of my life, Buffy has been there, and coming to Cambridge was no different. As a lead-up, I was watching season four (the season Buffy goes to university) non-stop, snuggled up in my accommodation in one of the two Buffy t-shirts I brought with me, being overlooked by my Buffy poster. Buffy has always offered me hope, comfort, tears, laughs, thrills and has anchored me, acting as a light to run to after a hard day. It will forever be my ultimate favourite show, thing in the world and my unflinching comfort show.