Buffy The Vampire Slayer at 20 – How the show changed the way I watched TV

I’m just one of millions of fans who was influenced by Buffy The Vampire Slayer in some way. It is a series that I find myself returning to again and again. I crack open the boxset and pop on an episode whenever I’m having a bad day. BTVS is a very rewatchable show, no matter how many times I’ve seen an episode I always find myself laughing, crying, gasping as events unfold on screen.

The real importance of BTVS in my life is that it was the first show I truly appreciated. Sure there were other series that I obsessed over, Quantum Leap being one of my early TV loves but BTVS was different. With this show I realized that TV could be something more than just a new story every week. It built up the mythology aspect of the narrative carefully, mixing in the standalone with the season’s big bad and the developing relationships between the characters.

BTVS taught me that TV could be as exciting as films and spending seven years with the characters actually changed how I viewed stories. Don’t get me wrong I love films and some stories should only be told in two hours. However, thanks to BTVS I now find myself more in love with TV as a medium because of the time the viewer gets to spend with the characters and the story. I love watching characters develop over the time, to see them go through heartache and joy, to see them face loss but also win. Every episode, even the slightly disappointing ones can bring a new aspect of a character to light – a simple character beat can change how we see them and expand the world of the show.
BTVS showed me that not everything had to be wrapped up in 42 minutes, that consequences could continue to reverberate throughout the seasons. The series also helped me see that a show is never just what it seems on the surface, that deeper themes can be used to say things of importance.

I was 17 when I first saw the show and it really was a huge part of my pop-culture education. After BTVS ended in 2003 I wondered if I would ever find a show that I loved as much (other than the equally fantastic Angel). I eventually found it with Lost, another show that focused on the characters and mixed tragedy with mythology and whilst not as funny as BTVS it did have humor at times. BTVS was the show that encouraged me to invest in a long narrative and Lost cemented that.

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