30 Days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Day 30: What You Think Made Buffy So Great
What made Buffy so great? A lot of things. Most obviously, there’s the cast, who were not only pretty, pretty people, but also extremely talented ones. I can’t count the number of terrible movies I’ve sat through just to watch one of them do their thing. There’s the fact that the show, despite having a small but loyal audience throughout its run, has appeal that is pretty much universal if you can actually get people to watch it; everyone from kids still in high school to those nearing the senior citizen range can enjoy it, and those are just the fans I personally know. This is a television series that can be admired with equal ardor by academics and teenagers, no small feat.
The action/fantasy TV genre does not have a great history with strong female heroes, which was especially true in 1997. Buffy's impact on our current pop culture landscape cannot be underestimated, from the way it sneakily influenced our slang to the way it spawned a wave of imitators (the CW is currently looking for the “new Buffy”). Its greatest impact can be felt in the writers whose careers it either birthed or defined: Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Marti Noxon, Drew Goddard, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Greenberg, Howard Gordon, and others. If you throw in Angel, you can even count The Shield creator Shawn Ryan among that number. If you’ve enjoyed a TV show in the last 15 years, there’s a 90% chance that one or more of its writers cut their teeth on Buffy.
And who can we thank for all of that? Joss Whedon, duh. If you’re a fan of TV, film, literature, or any creative medium—someone who devours art and recognizes something special when you find it—then you know that there are some people who just clearly have the fire. Joss Whedon has the fire. It’s obvious in every interview, every commentary, every speech, every candid moment, that this man lives and breathes writing and filmmaking, that he pours himself into every single endeavor with equal fervor. If I ever meet him, I want to personally thank him for the work that he’s done, even though I’m sure people say that kind of thing to him all the time. Most of all, I want to thank him for once upon a time showing an 11-year-old what writing could do, what art could be, what feminism meant, what empowerment was, and that the hardest thing in this world is to live in it…but that we have to be brave and live anyway.
So, uh, yeah…Joss Whedon is what made Buffy the Vampire Slayer great.