Buffy the Vampire Slayer (And why it’s important for female representation.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came onto our screens in 1997 and took people of all ages and genders by storm. With it being one of the most popular vampire shows, it tells the tale of a young girl named Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her journey that she takes being ‘The Slayer’ under the watchful eye of her Watcher: Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head.) She is aided by the help of her friends, genius witch Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), the geeky Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), preppy and ex-demon Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield), another witch Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) and her sister Dawn (Melissa Tratchtenberg.) Along the way she encounters love, loss and most importantly vampires, the main two being Spike (James Marsters) and Angel (David Borenaz.) With seven seasons of vampire slaying action (even with a musical episode being thrown in) Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show that should be at the top of everyone’s list of shows to watch.

Let’s start with our protagonist Buffy Summers.

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Buffy is like any other teenage girl, full of questions, hates High School and just wants to fit in. Which goes okay, until she finds a vampire. Buffy suffers through ups and downs just like every other teenage girl, and the way that the show represents what she has gone through and what it does to her emotionally. When Buffy dies (the second time) she is brought back by magic and after that she feels uneasy about being back. She struggles with all of the power that she has, and she doesn’t want her friends to die for her. Buffy is the character that most people want to be when they watch the show. She’s smart, spunky and strong. She has many different romantic relationships (mostly with vampires) but, she always stands up for herself. She struggles later on with having to look after Dawn by herself after their mother’s death, struggling to find a job and to make sure that Dawn is safe while still fighting vampires. Buffy gets a lot of pressure put on her a lot of the time but, still manages to power through it all.

Willow Rosenberg

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Willow is normally everyone’s favourite when they start watching the show. She’s nerdy, smart and if people start the show nowadays they normally see her and think “Oh hey it’s the girl from How I Met Your Mother/American Pie.” However Willow is a far better character in Buffy than she is in the other shows that she has starred in. Willow is the sweet one, and for the first couple of seasons is a lovesick girl that has a crush on her best friend (Xander) and when she cheats on her boyfriend Oz (Seth Green) with Xander, the relationship ends and Willow then discovers that she is gay after meeting Tara. The show is one of the first shows that features a lesbian relationship and shows that sometimes a relationship can be unhealthy as Willow starts using magic to play with Tara’s memory. And with Glory (one of the most evil demons in Sunnydale) messing with Tara’s head in one episode, it starts the awakening of Dark Willow. During Season Six, a boy named Warren attempts to kill Buffy but, ends up shooting and killing Tara instead. At Tara’s death, an evil awakens in Willow and she ends up killing Warren in revenge and also attempting to kill her friends. It is Xander’s love and friendship that ultimately saves her, however the darkness has a lasting effect and Tara’s death gets to Willow more than it seems.

Anya/Anyanka Jenkins

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Let’s move on to my favourite character. Anya used to be a vengeance demon, helping out girls who had been heartbroken by men. We are first introduced to Anya when Cordelia wants to get revenge on Xander. ¬†When her demon rights are then taken and she is human, Anya develops a crush on Xander and attempts to get him to sleep with her. As a human, her and Xander fall in love and start dating (one of the best relationships of the show- in my humble opinion.) Anya has many quirky traits, such as being obsessed with money and the idea of being able to have cash as quoted with one of my favourite lines “Can I trade the children for more cash?” as she is playing the board game ‘Life.’ Anya also has a fear of bunnies which is one of the quirkiest personality traits she owns, with the running joke that she thinks that they’re evil and scary. Being an ex-demon Anya isn’t one to understand many human things like how to run a shop, how to drive and most importantly how to deal with a death. Perhaps the most heartbreaking scene for Anya is in the episode ‘The Body’ when Buffy’s mother dies and Anya is asking inappropriate questions, but then doesn’t know how she’s supposed to feel because Joyce was always there and now she’s gone. It’s one of the more real subjects that the show goes into, which I may discuss further in a post about the episode as a whole. What hurt me most was the last episode of Buffy to air, when Anya sacrifices herself to save Andrew and ends up dying with nobody being able to find her despite Xander looking. Anya was a true hero and is one of the most complex characters on the show, being confident to discuss sex, money and how she feels romantically towards Xander.

Dawn Summers

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To me Dawn is a very relateable character for many people. She lives in the shadow of her older sister and constantly thinks that she is being ignored. She may whine a little to people but, she has her reasons. Dawn was first introduced as ‘The Key’ a powerful object that wasn’t always there which starts off her idea that she doesn’t really matter and that nobody needs her. When her mother dies, Dawn takes it hard. She has to completely rely on Buffy to help her and she can’t begin to cope with the idea that her mother is truly gone. After the death, she feels more and more unnoticed and she even starts a spell that forces everyone to stay at home so that they can spend time with her. (By accident of course.)

Tara Maclay

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Tara may not be the best character in the world but, she deserves some recognition. Being the second representation of a lesbian character, the fact that she isn’t sexualised is key. Tara suffers through things, with her mother being dead and her father being very¬†controlling of her as she is a witch, she has a bad home life. However she is very happy with Willow, but stands her ground when Willow starts getting addicted to magic and although it hurts her she eventually leaves Willow when the magic addiction gets too much. Tara’s fate may be upsetting and left a lot of fans in tears as she did not deserve to die, but it also paved the way for a story arc that ultimately changed the show completely.