Spoiler alert: I’m probably going to write about Buffy a lot. I haven’t written anything yet because I have been afraid I would never be able to stop. I’m also afraid I won’t be able to do justice to something so sacred to me (this is coming from someone who is on draft #13 of a thank you letter to Joss Whedon). But if I’ve learned anything from Buffy, it’s that one should never shy away from a challenge. Not only that, but one must face challenges with passion and conviction.
To put it plainly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (BTVS) has been one of my best friends since 1997. I’m not talking about the character but the show itself. The show ended in 2003 but I find myself watching the entire series roughly once a year. My Buffy Marathons are usually brought on by a time of difficulty or transition in my life and never fail to get me through anything. Like a best friend should, BTVS always makes me laugh, cry, reflect, understand, and learn. It’s always there for me.
I will begin with some of the lessons to be learned from Miss Elizabeth Anne Summers herself (and her friends, too). She is a huge inspiration to me and a soul mate of sorts. I’ll try not to write any spoilers (because I know EVERYONE who hasn’t watched now will. You should).
Some Lessons Learned From Buffy:
1. Always keep fighting
Never quit! Try a rocket launcher when times get tough! (Image via http://twistedtwinsproductions.blogspot.com)
In the dictionary, if you look up “quitter”, there should be a photo of Buffy captioned “The opposite of quitter”. The girl never backs down. She may need to retreat every now and then to recharge and plan or something but she always comes back stronger than ever. Physically, she never quits; she demonstrates this time and time again, especially when fighting the various “Big Bads” in season finales. I mean, are you kidding me with her and Glory??? Or her fight with the Master as just a fledgling slayer? Um, and don’t even get me started on Season 7. I can’t even think about Caleb without getting nightmares. Buffy doesn’t quit.
2. Find your true friends
The Original Scooby Gang (Image via http://Danielmaidman.blogspot.com)
When Buffy transferred to Sunnydale High, Cordelia (Resident Queen B) swoops in on her. Buffy has the looks, clothes and LA background to be part of Cordelia’s crew of Sunnydales version of The Plastics. Buffy sees through all of that and quickly forms bonds with goofy outcast Xander and Willow, the frumpy, adorable brainiac. That’s because Buffy knows how to pick a true blue friend, you guys! From day one, she saw in Xander and Willow friends that would literally go to the end of the world with her (this is appropriate use of literal – the gang often saved the world from evil, okay?). Not only did Xander and Willow immediately accept her and her secret life, they also immediately had her back. In addition to this, they see Buffy through love, loss, boyfriends turned soulless killers who terrorize them, family problems and naughty phases.
3. Practice forgiveness
Xander and Willow after she, um, tries to end the world (Image via Netflix.com Season 6, Episode 22 Grave)
Forgiveness is huge in the Buffyverse (even when it is slowly and painfully earned). Cases in point: Willow, Spike, Angel, Faith and Andrew. Buffy also forgives foibles that are minor in comparison: Xander and his love spell, Giles testing her on her 18th birthday and Dawn doing, like, everything possible to be annoying and screw things up. Likewise, the gang forgives Buffy. It’s a crazy fight they all fight and everyone needs forgiveness at some point.
4. Find strength through the love of your friends and family
“You could never hope to grasp the source of our power”. (Image via http://media.photobucket.com)
Buffy has slayer strength and cunning but over the course of the series, it becomes clear that she couldn’t do it alone. In particular, the bond and love between her and Giles gives her great strength. Giles is her mentor, her friend, her disciplinarian and her rock. Likewise, she needs her friends and family. Love and relationships only amplify her super powers. Season 4, Episode 21 (“Primeval”) is a beautiful example of this when the gang joins forces that are channeled through Buffy to fight that creep Adam. After the fight, Xander says, “You were great.” She corrects him: “We were great.” It’s amazing, and one of my go to episodes.
5. Live like you will die tomorrow (or at any moment in Buffys case)
Okay fine, so a demon cast a spell to make them all sing. But it looks fun, right?! (Image via http://uncoolkids.com/buffy/)
One of the darker aspects of the show is that this is a teenager who not only must face the possibility of death on a daily basis but must prevent the deaths of others. Oh, and she has died. Twice. Very early in life, Buffy learns to live with passion and purpose because every day might be her last. You can see how she passes this to Willow, Xander, Giles and even Cordelia. Remember when she got Willow to dress slutty under her ghost costume on Halloween??? Oh, and we can’t forget Faith in this category. That girl, poor choices and seeming daddy issues aside, LIVES.
6. Become what you are
“I’m Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. And you are?” (Image via http://www.moley75.co.uk)
Like any teenager, Buffy wants to fit in and be normal. She also wants to have fun. However, she has her “calling” and she constantly must come to grips with her responsibility. The job of being a slayer is something she wants to keep separate from her identity but as she realizes her strength and value to the world, she becomes the slayer. I think it really starts to click in Season 3 Episode 1 (“Anne”), where Ken the douche lord tries to beat her into submission in his underworld labor camp. The kids are all in a line up and have to say “no one” when asked who they are. Not our slayer. She responds “I’m Buffy, the vampire slayer. And you are?” Ass kicking ensues.
7. Use humor
Spoiler: This is not Buffy being sassy. No, no, it isn’t. But it’s a good pic. (Image via http://nikkistafford.blogspot.com)
Buffys fighting style might be described as pun-fu, assault and bantering, tae quip do…. You get it. I’m cracking myself up, by the way. Buffy cracks me up too. She makes slaying her own and injects her personality into her battles all the time. I just feel like there is nothing you can’t defeat with a little sass!
8. Be You
“Who is that girl”??? (Image via http://www.fanpop.com)
Yes, Buffy does Buffy. But I’m looking at Willow for this one. Willow Rosenberg is no one but herself. Ultimately, this leads to great power for her as well. (Whoa, Willow! Cool it!) Willow makes no apologies about being super smart, nor for her penchant for super colorful soft clothing. My favorite Willow being Willow moment is her Eskimo costume for the bronze party in Season 2, Episode 5 (“Inca Mummy Girl”), where Oz falls for her bundled up-ness at first sight. Who wouldn’t?!
So I’ve been cycling through all of the episodes again for probably the eighth time as I have my oral boards coming up. Don’t knock it, it works. Buffy has gotten me through college, medical school, through the residency match, through horrendous breakups, through a grueling residency and more. I even have my go-to episodes when I need a quick boost. This time around it is making me stronger and more sentimental about the Buffyverse than ever. So expect more Buffy thoughts soon. I could go on and on! Favorite episodes, favorite moments, what it means in terms of my life and struggles… Oh yes. There will be more. For now, what are some of the things you have learned from Buffy and the Scooby Gang?
Main image via http://free-photo-download.info