“Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series that changed the world

In 1997, a series began to be broadcast in the US which, hidden behind a ridiculous-looking title and youthful protagonists, brought with it a revolution in the concept of television serial. We continue to live, whether we know it or not, in the shadow of this paradigm shift: in a world in which series have become a basic part of our audiovisual entertainment more than ever, a large part of the vast menu could not be understood without this tale of vampires, witches, demons and teenagers; without that student drama, with a supernatural and action substrate.

the book that publish dolmen Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series that changed the worldwritten by Jöse Sender, combines the review of the series as a production, telling us about scriptwriters, producers and actors (stuffed with anecdotes and curious facts); with this vision of the work and its sequels as a revulsion for television fiction.

Paradoxically, I remember that many of my peers and friends initially resisted the charms of the series. Blinded by their external conditions, we, first-time university students with anxiety and a serious facade, had to discover Buffy to our regret. Because even though we didn’t know it yet and refused to see it, she was perfect for us. This book does a wonderful job of reminding us why.

For one thing, Buffy was the closest thing we had to a superhero show that wasn’t just for kids.[1]. After all, this was before these were a standard and constant presence. The heart of the series was a direct legacy of Claremontrevulsive and definitive screenwriter of the mutants of Marvel[2] and especially of its stronger female characters, like Storm either Jean Gray. Also and fundamentally for the case at hand, of the adolescent Kitty Pryde and some complex personal plots that related the main story and the secondary ones in a balance between the immediate and the long term. Also, of course, there is a lot of the first Peter Parker and his adage about responsibility as a necessary counterpoint to power in our heroine.

On the other hand, Buffy connected with the funniest side, even more stupid, if we want, of the terrifying and Gothic who lived a peak moment. The 90s were golden years for the audiovisual vampire, counting among its ranks followers as iconic as the stylized dracula of Coppola (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola, 1992); the sensitive ones interview with the vampire (Interview with a vampire1994, Neil Jordan); not to mention the adrenaline-pumping and partially superheroic version of Blade (1998, Stephen Norrington), the hooligan of open until dawn (From Dusk till Dawnnineteen ninety six, robert rodriguez) or the wonderful and strange Chronos (1993, Guillermo del Toro). The film version of the adventures of the Huntress had also been released, with more pain than glory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer1992, Fran Rubel Kuzui), but almost better not to say much more about it or compare it with any of the previous ones.

In a more minority circle, that was also for us the time of Vampire: The Masquerade (the first American edition from 1991), the game narrative which had also meant a radical change in the habits of role-players around the world, even temporarily distancing us from dungeon and spaceships to become conspiratorial lords of the night. Although, in reality, I suspect that our interest in these vampires, undeniably rooted in those of Anne Riceplayed against our possible acceptance of Buffy: it seems that the lighthearted way in which the vampiric subject is treated in Sunnydale was an affront to the dark role playing game elements[3].

But there was still one more prejudice that we had to overcome that distinguished Buffy from other standards of culture. nerd that we had more assumed; one that made (again unbeknownst to us) his existence even more necessary. Buffy, although created by Joss Wheddon, it was a series that introduced (as the book well points out, thanks to a magnificent team of scriptwriters) a necessary feminine and feminist nuance, in eminently masculinized environments and themes. Beyond it all, the series revolved around a strong female lead, surrounded by a cast of largely female characters, who was not ashamed of it, nor did she treat her leading lady like a sexless stick figure. Nor as a sexualized fetish.

All of them, men, women and demons, seemed like real people, faced (of course) with impossible and fantastic dilemmas, but also with the problems and insecurities of a certain time and time. At the same time, they appealed to experiences that were not shared, but that were made understandable through fiction. Of course, none of us was going to face (or so far has been) a vampire apocalypse, but we could all understand, to some extent, the road to maturity that its protagonists went through and, especially, the treatment of the two poles in which the series constantly moves: loss and hope.

But we, and us from other places and times, were not the only ones who needed this series: the world of television series itself needed that change. It could be argued that some attempts to combine the vertical structure of the conventional episodic series and the long-term horizontal plots predate Buffy: we can mention, for example, the weight of the personal arguments in the medium and long term of the mythical sad hill street song (Hill Street Blues), already in the previous decade. But the truth is that the adventures of the scoobies they took that combination to its ultimate form and paved the way for just about everything that has come after it.

This form, perhaps coincidentally, but certainly opportunely, was also perfect to adapt to the current era of streaming and broadcast on demand, in which the risk of losing the casual viewer (who cannot and does not want to find out about the plots in the long term) has practically disappeared and is more important to hook to the viewer for forever to entertain you while doing zapping. A change that, it must be admitted, has had its negative side: today it is very difficult to obtain a satisfactory experience from a single episode and the lengthening of plots beyond their own needs is a fact.

Jöse Sender’s book does a great job pointing out many of those daughters of Buffy that still populate our televisions, as well as outlining the ramifications of the series beyond its original run (including the development of Angel, the parallel series, and the continuations and alternative continuities of the comic side of the universe). We also have to imagine something more of the projects never advanced, especially that series of Giles that we never get to see. Curiously, there is no reference to the licensed novels, of which I believe that only a handful were published in Spanish.[4].

Reading the book has been like visiting an old friend again, while the box of DVDs (fortunately from the edition before the disastrous remaster, to which the author also dedicates a chapter) looks at me from the top of the shelf, like a reproach for the time I haven’t visited her. A nostalgic journey that has reminded me a lot of what made this series so great. My only problem now is how to fit into my life the hours necessary to be able to see it again (and, for now, content myself with listening to the soundtrack of Once More, With Feeling).


[1] Much more, in general, than true superhero productions, which rarely responded to the structure of comic book stories and tended to target a more childish audience. Maybe the other great superhero series ahead of the letter that I must name is the magnificent gargoyles (1994-1997).

[2] A sixteen-year period (1975-1991) in which he turned the mutants, who until then had been the publishing house’s poor cousins, into the publishing house’s most successful section, multiplying the number of characters and collections (to the original Uncanny X-menothers such as Excalibur, New Mutants, X-Factor…).

[3] Curiously, in 1996, only a year before it began to be broadcast Buffy the Vampire Slayerthere had been a brief and unsuccessful attempt to adapt the game into a television series with the title of Kindred: the embraced. The series produced by the company Aaron Spelling it would only produce eight episodes before disappearing.

[4] I have only read one: the quite forgettable, but correct, Immortal of Christopher Golden Y Nancy Holler.

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series that changed the world