Listicle: Nineteen Reasons I’ve Been Given To Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Today is the 15th anniversary of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” pilot premiering on the TV. I’ve only seen the first half of the first season. Here are things people have said to me to convince me to watch the rest. A lot of them are from Laneia, who apparently has a lot of feelings regarding this topic.

1. Willow’s impending lesbianism, which is actually portrayed w/out grossness or weirdness. It’s the epitome of adorable. This should be enough — I don’t know why we’d need to go any further.

2. It gets better after the first season.

3. It gets better after the second season/ the first season or two is just campy laughable bullshit/ just do your best to stick it out/ stop whining about how campy it is and just keep watching

4. There’s a musical episode. They sing. The whole time. It’s amazing. YOU CAN SING ALONG.

5. You [Grace] kind of look like Buffy. Not really, that was a lie.

6. It’s like Cracker Jacks, and the prize is lesbianism.

7. Think about how much more pop culture references you can make. “They got the mustard out” is some funny shit, and you don’t even know why.

8. Spike. You’ll fall in love w/ Spike and you’ll like it.

9. GIRLS MAKING OUT. GIRLS MAKING OUT EVERYWHERE. ALSO VAMPIRES.

10. sarah michele gellerrrrrr! (sic)

11. Alyson Hannigan though!

12. How do you feel about Seth Green? Seth Green is good in this series.

13. The one-liners are eventually fantastic.

14. Their HQ is the school library, which i’m going to assume is also your fantasy HQ, if you’re being honest w/ yourself. Just — Grace, seriously — they’re constantly surrounded by shelves and shelves of old books; Buffy’s watcher is an even bigger nerd than you; they spend hours/days/weeks doing research and thinking critically. THEY CALL THEMSELVES THE SCOOBIES.

15. Buffy is your heritage, you have to watch it eventually.

16. “I just started trying to watch buffy the other day!” -Riese

17. After you finish buffy you can move on to FIREFLY! !!! (I am a little insulted that Laneia thinks that I haven’t watched Firefly, sidenote.)

18. On a superficial level, there’s so much 90s nostalgia in one series, right down to the matte grey nail polish, dark red lipstick, babydoll tees, bangs, chokers, high-waisted pant situations, you name it. But also here’s the thing: you’ve probably at least seen bits and pieces of 90210 or Dawson’s Creek or such — like, they’re punchlines at this point. Buffy is never a punchline (unless you’re hardcore into the Twilight/anti-Twilight crowd, and you’re not). So basically you’re going back in time, to when girl power was something we believed in w/out irony or nostalgia, and being given the gift of an entirely new tv series built on the unironic idea of girl power, camp and nerd humor. Joss Whedon more or less LIVED for girls like you.

19. OH DUDE FINISH DOWNTON ABBEY FIRST. Buffy isn’t going anywhere.

Grace Ellis has been writing and making hack-job graphics for Autostraddle since 2011 and is a co-creator and co-writer of the comic book series Lumberjanes. She is mostly an intern in name only. (Mostly.) She lives in Columbus, Ohio because why anything. Also, she wants to write the Black Widow movie and feels like if she just keeps telling people, eventually she will be allowed to do it. She has a Twitter and a Tumblr, both of which are pretty above average.

Grace has written 92 articles for us.

134 Comments

  1. I only recently watched Buffy. I’m pretty sure I got through all seven seasons while not studying for exams. But, I did spend a good portion of a couple of seasons screaming at my computer “Buffy is sleeping with a man she met five minutes ago, WHY HASN’T WILLOW KISSED HER GIRLFRIEND OF A YEAR ON SCREEN YET? THEY LIVE TOGETHER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!”

    It got better. It made up for it ten fold. But there was a time I lost my faith in the lesbians kissing thing. I realize now I was just hasty.

  2. Do you know there are entire academic journals dedicated to BtVS? Once you get into it you can read countless essays on gender and sexuality and family and adolescence and philosophy and everything ever and vampires and the slayer. You can also, if you’re anything like me, write your own essays for university about how Buffy was the pinnacle of feminism in 90’s pop culture and how Twilight totally sucks. But maybe I’m just a tad nerdy.

    YAY BUFFY!

  3. Oh thank god I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen Buffy.

    I also haven’t seen Xena, though a friend once described it to me as gayer than the L Word. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little puzzled about how that could be true.

    • As a poor unfortunate soul that just finished watching Xena, I can confirm that yes, It’s pretty gay, but the second half of the entire series is dedicated to Xena killing off the greek gods so the Christian one can take its rightful place or some bullshit. Very meh.

    • Xena has a lot of lesbian subtext, which often frustrated the hell out of me. I wouldn’t say it’s gayer than the L-Word at all. I think it just seemed super gay in comparison to everything else that was on in the 1990s.

      I mean, when the only lesbian characters you’ve seen on TV ever include Ellen who wasn’t even out yet and Paul’s sister on Mad About You and you watch the “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” episode of Xena, it’s like OMG THIS IS THE GAYEST SHOW EVER! And it was in 1996.

  4. Buffy started 15 years ago? I feel old.

    You should watch it! It started as a low-budget midseason replacement based on a bad movie, so of course the first season isn’t that great. It gets so much better.

  5. That picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar in the preview for this article should be enough reason to start watching this show, honestly.

    Reason #21: Girls who watch Buffy are 348957039458 times hotter than they originally were sans Buffy.

  6. It may not have the same impact now as it did then. This is pre-Glee and pre-L-word. Though there were gay characters on TV, few actually had relationships or any PDA.

    Willow and Tara were supposed to have their first kiss during season 4 in the episode “New Moon Rising.” Instead, they blow out a candle. It’s because the studio wouldn’t let them kiss on screen because there was already some gay character on some other show. Their first onscreen kiss is later in season 5 and Joss Whedon says it was only allowed because he threatened to quit if the studio didn’t let them kiss. It was important to him to not make a lesbian kiss be about ratings. And so there’s no lead up or teasers, it just happens as it should.

    I don’t think there’s any one special episode of Buffy that could make a person want to watch all of them. It’s a serialized story that gets better the more back story you know.

    • I feel that when I get around to watching it, it will only be because of Eliza Dushku. Like if I needed convincing, this would be the only reason I needed. I watched Wrong Turn for that woman. And this was before Netflix. I had to go to Blockbuster, in front of other humans, and pay money to watch that movie.

  7. i avoided buffy for a long, long time. then after a particularly heinous break-up, i was given it in doses, like medicine. i think buffy might have actually saved parts of my soul, that gray summer.

    i’m not saying it’s without problems, but i am saying you should watch it.

    that said i just finished season one of downton abbey like 20 minutes ago, OMG.

  8. I think Buffy had some great long-term character development. Joss Whedon is the master of planning, so he often started foreshadowing stuff that didn’t come to play until a year or more after. There were so many great metaphors too.

    Ooh, and once you’ve started watching Buffy, then you can watch the spin-off! I’m not sure how feminist it is compared to Buffy, although Cordelia Chase makes some good comments. I really liked the way they fleshed out Cordelia’s character. Also, Amy Acker, who plays Fred, is so freaking adorable.

  9. I JUST finished Buffy. I don’t think it’s positively the greatest thing ever in the history of the world, however-
    -The storytelling works for their B-Movie genre thing they got going on.
    -I love Joss Whedon writing ensemble casts with awesome dialog and very distinctive personalities. It’s the greatest. I strive for it in my own writing.
    -Willow and Tara are the sweetest thing ever, and their S3 romance progression makes me all fuzzy inside

    That said, Firefly is actually what made me figure out I was super gay. There’s Kaylee (of course) and YoSafBridge, but then there’s that one episode where Inara services a female client and that made me REALLY EVALUATE MY FEELINGS.

  10. Full disclosure, I am a Buffy nerd. I have the box set, read the comics, and wear proudly my Buffy-themed t-shirts.

    I know it is hard to get into. Seasons 1 and 2 are campy and ridiculous. (which is totally the charm of the whole thing) I’ve been told that if you start with season 3, finish the series, and then go back to 1 and 2, it makes the whole thing so much easier. The origin seasons are funnier in retrospect and the ‘creature feature’ throw backs to bad sci-fi, are brilliant.

    But regardless of what order one watches them in, BtVS really is important. The writing is superb. The content was ground breaking. So rare is it that a man can write feminist, girl power characters while striking that balance between sexy, real, honest, and respectful. The Willow plot line about becoming a witch and later becoming a lesbian is appropriately celebrated by lady gays everywhere, but it is by no means the only or main reason to watch this show. The nostalgia factor is huge (their lives would be so much better if they just had frickin’ cell phones) and, yes, the one liners are priceless.

    Grace, I encourage you to give a try, again if necessary. But given all of this, sometimes it just isn’t one’s cup of tea. I will still be your friend even if you aren’t on team BtVS.

    “A day without an autopsy is like a day without sunshine”.

      • Season 8 comic is a little ridiculous (still awesome) but Season 9 comic gets Buffy back to her roots, back to her being a kick ass woman in a dark alley keeping the monsters at bay. What’s great is that this comics just got available in digital format. I have the Dark Horse comic app on my iPad and each issue is like $3.
        I have friends who love the Angel and Faith comic. I’ve read a few issues, but I’ve yet to really dive in. I sort of hate Angel. But I love Faith, so I’ll probably give in soon.

  11. This list is severely incomplete. This time last year I was watching Buffy for the very first time, and it was surprising how many people were apologetic for the “filler episodes” and campyness and entire seasons even, while I had zero fucking problem at all with any of it, and loved every single moment.

    This list is severely incomplete though! Here’s mine:

    1. Spike. SPIKE. FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SPIKE.
    2. Emma Caulfield. I was really surprised how much I ended up adoring Emma.
    3. Feminism
    4. Lesbians
    5. Lesbians handled well
    6. Anthony Stewart Head
    7. Anthony Stewart Head singing Behind Blue Eyes
    8. SPIKE

    There are a lot of other little things, like Eliza Dushku and Azura Skye and the murder house from American Horror Story (and so many awesome people from BTVS being on AHS made my heart warm and fuzzy) and also the musical episode sob sob sob

    Also COMIC BOOKS. THE SHOW IS STILL GOING ON. EXPERIMENTAL BUFFY WITH A LESBIAN GIRLFRIEND. AND SPIKE. DID I MENTION SPIKE?

    I was pretty thrilled to find out after finishing series 7 to find out about the comics continuing where it all left off, which all started pretty recently.

    But in summary; BUFFY. WATCH IT. AAAAAAAA.

  12. The reason you should watch Buffy is because it changed the idea of a tv series, and what it was and could be. Before Buffy almost all shows were like The Simpsons — an episode would play, then the next week it would be like none of it ever happened. Buffy was one of the first shows (with the X Files) to move beyond Monster of the Week. Multi-season arcs, foreshadowing for episodes or seasons ahead, real actual character development — those things all began on or were seriously forwarded by Buffy.

    Buffy is when tv became art. The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men…name an amazing show, they all owe a huge amount to Buffy. Start watching in Season 1, where it’s campy and ridiculous and Monster of the Week, and watch how it changes until you get to Season 3, which imo ties with S2 of The West Wing for the best season of tv ever made.

    Tl;dr Buffy changed the game. Watch it to see how.

  13. can anyone tell me if there’s a good reason for her to watch ‘the pack’ and ‘i robot you jane’?? because those episodes are so hellishly bad, and if they don’t come into play later in the series i think she’d be better off skipping them. also ‘the puppet show.’ gah, just terrible.

  14. Buffy is the only TV series that I liked even more the second time I watched it – there’s so much subtext and foreshadowing that you don’t notice on first viewing because you’re not beaten over the head with it, but it’s there if you want to find it. And for anyone who doesn’t want to, there’s plenty of cool fights and witty one-liners to enjoy instead. It’s not perfect by any means, but there’s a reason why (as someone else mentioned) it’s extremely popular with writers and academics.

  15. This article, along with the comments, just convinced me to finally watch Buffy. I’ve had the first season on my computer for months, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I do remember really wanting to watch it several years ago, and my mother forbid it…but I’m finally gonna watch it now!

  16. Grace everyone has been telling me that I have to watch it for so long too, and then I started watching it, and then two days later you wrote this article, which is fate. we’ll have to both watch it and then recap the entire season at once

        • The most amazing thing about the heart is it’s ability to heal..And if you believe nothing else I say, believe this..You will heal, and one day you will look back on these tears and actually laugh..Mostly at what a jackass she is!

          • Truth is, it was my first relationship and the first person I’ve ever been really, deeply emotionally invested in. So I’ve never quite felt this desperation, abandonment and hopelessness before. So healing seems impossible – but I know, in my head and I can almost feel it, just out of reach, juuuust obscured by my grief, that healing will come, one day, and I think I can hold onto that.

          • All the things. The same thing happened last week. Like Facebook chat wtf?

            I know that it’ll pass and it will be fine and we’ll both be stronger. Really, if you need some one to talk to. You know. Hi.

          • True, and it had an exchange between Xander and Willow that cracks me up-
            Xander, after Willow expresses doubt about the quality of his fake i.d.: “What gave it away?”
            Willow: “Looking at it.”
            Part of it is the singsong way she says it, gets me every time.

            But the episode as a whole was sub par, Tracey Forbes seemed to write a couple of my less than favorite eps. The season 4 “orgasm house” (how I think of it) was another one that just didn’t quite get it right.

  17. I started watching Buffy two weeks ago, after I had fallen in love with so many other Joss Whedon productions it just seemed like the next logical step. It’s truly a cathartic experience.

    SPOILER!(kinda)
    Just finished Seeing Red. I can barely type for the tears.

  18. Okay now I’m 20 and I was watching buffy when I was like 10 years old.I was totally obsessed just as I was with charmed and Xena. Anyway turns out I don’t remember much so I can watch it all again without spoilers! Yeah! (I proably should start after my anatomy exam though, since it will take away some time…)

  19. Guys, I am disappoint. Sure, Anya and Giles and Spike and Buffy are awesome, but TARA. I’m pretty sure the first Buffy ep I caught was a rerun of the First Slayer one where Willow dreams she’s painting runes down Tara’s back *_____* Also Tara is sweet and shy and adorable and their kiss in The Body is my favourite on-screen kiss ever and also have you *seen* Amber Benson’s cleavage? /perv

    Also also I think watching Willow and Tara was when I realised I didn’t just think Pink and Britney and my biology teacher were hot, but that I wanted the kind of *relationship* Willow and Tara had, with the living together and the kitten and the kisses in the morning. So I have a bunch of FEELINGS about them, um. /csb

    TL;DR: Reason 20: Tara.

    • Amber Benson is so freakin’ cool it’s unbelievable. She’s smart, she’s funny and she has a dirty, dirty mind. She’s so proud to have played Tara and been a part of the (at the time)the longest running lesbian relationship on network tv and she’s really kind and generous to her fans.
      I’ve met her at various premiers, book signings and conventions probably 10ish times over the years and she’s just the best. One of the last times we met she spent about an hour drinking beer and talking with me and my friend for around an hour; about childhood stories, her family, Buffy, living in L.A., making movies and writing books.

  20. I watched this show back when I was still in denial about being gay. I didn’t have many crushes on male celebs, but I kind of had a thing for Spike. I also kind of had a secret thing for Buffy too so there’s that.

    Also Joss Whedon is the best. I love his shows and I love the way he writes women characters. He gave the best acceptance speech when Equality Now gave him an award. He’s introduced by Meryl Streep.
    I’ve watched it multiple times because it’s just so great:

    So great!

  21. Okay but…. I really love the movie. Like really, really love it. I have forever refused to watch the series because Kristy Sawnson is my boo and I just can’t SMG.

    Still waiting to be convinced…

  22. I used to be obsessed with Buffy!(because I had a major adolescent crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar). But because I only liked it because of how hot I thought Buffy was the whole feminism thing, in fact the whole story line if I’m honest, past me by. But I’ve since watched Firefly and loved it, so maybe I should watch it again minus the hormones and actually pay attention to the plot!

  23. I would add the disclaimer that this was made before the post-L Word *relative* normalcy of lesbian sex scenes on TV and the lack of Willow/Tara action was the network’s fault. Don’t compare it to Skins or Pretty Little Liars. Compare it to say, the Gilmore Girls, a show that premiered 3 years after Buffy and didn’t have a single openly gay or lesbian character despite it’s allegedly feminist premise.

    My only complaints: lack of Latino students in California, the indigenous spirits episode and Michelle Trachtenberg. Michelle Trachtenberg is the worst and whiniest thing to happen to television since forever. What were they thinking casting her?

    • Andrew! His argument with Warren about who was the best Bond is hilarious!
      “Timothy Dalton should win an Oscar and beat you over the head with it!”

      His interactions with Anya are some of my favorite things ever about BtVS. The wheelchair fight at the end of S7 makes me hurt from laughing.

  24. After the fourth time I watched Buffy (I mean like, all the seasons through, four times) – I finally got to the point of not finding Dawn to be the most annoying character in existence. Apparently she grows on you, like a wart.

    BtVS is one of my favourite programs, I’m gonna say No. 3 in my rankings, after Battlestar Galactica (also amazing female characters) and The X Files (Gillian Anderson, need I say more?)

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