If the apocalypse comes, beep us: Sheffield Gothic launches our Buffy Blog Series

‘In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.’

Welcome Slayers, Scoobies, Watchers and newbies to Sheffield Gothic’s latest blog series, dedicated to the one and only Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series, which ran for seven seasons between 1997 and 2003 – and spawned a spin-off, comic books, and games – recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary, and (though fashionably late to the party) we wanted to do our part to celebrate. As those of you who follow us on social media already know, we of Sheffield Gothic have quite the soft spot for Buffy (and you can read our top ten episodes it here). So, over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a series of blogs focusing on various aspects of all seven seasons from a variety of contributors, focusing on a season per week. And if you want to carry on the discussion, feel free to use the hashtag #BuffySlays20 (disclaimer: other hashtags are available) or email us at: sheffieldgothic@gmail.com.

(Reunited! Cast of BTVS  celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary)

When the 20th anniversary celebrations began to cross my path earlier this year, I decided it was finally time to devote my full attention to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had never been an avid Buffy viewer as a teen, but it was always in my periphery: it was on in the background at friends’ houses, there were posters of Spike and Angel on bedroom doors, and in depth discussions on forums I hovered around back in the dark ages of online fandom. I absorbed bits of plot and lore here and there – enough to be interested, but never quite enough to fully draw me in.

So earlier this year, I decided to start a full scale Buffy bingewatch.

It’s easy to romanticize something we loved when we were young, to view through glasses tinted with comfort and nostalgia. I loved the idea of Buffy as a teenager, and what she represented to me as a young woman, but I wasn’t attached to the show. Sitting down to watch the first episode, I wondered if I was actually going to enjoy it – would it be too dated, too cringey? Would the 90’s fashion be too great an offense to my sensibilities?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t a perfect show. But it’s a pretty freaking good one, even with the bad 90’s fashion. I watched three seasons in the space of two weeks. I loved it as much, if not more, in 2017 as I probably would have in 2003 had I been paying attention. 

(Cast of BTVS rocking bad (or good?) 90s fashion)

There’s a reason that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the pop culture giant that it is. It’s sharp and thoughtful, blending the ridiculous camp of the Gothic with the high school drama hilariously but also often for devastating emotional effect. It’s as watchable, as insightful and as interesting now as it ever has been.  There’s so much I could say about BTVS, including the way in which it works as a Gothic text, how much I love Buffy Summers, her status as a heroine and icon, and of course how much I hate (HATE) Xander Harris.

This blog series has been in the works, and planned for release this week, for months. However, in light of recent news we felt we couldn’t begin the series without addressing the allegations that Kai Cole has made against Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We at Sheffield Gothic want to say two things. Firstly, this is and always will be a feminist collective. We support Kai Cole and her statement. Secondly, this series is intended to be textual, critical readings of the show, its cultural impact and its identity as a Gothic text. We promote being critical of the media we love, and whilst revelations such as these can make loving that media very difficult we can’t ignore them or push them aside. We are open to input- if you feel that this needs addressing further, or would like contribute on the matter then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Over the next few weeks, these are the kinds of conversations we’ll be having here on the Sheffield Gothic blog. So whether you’re a long time fan, or you’ve not been bitten (yet), we hope you’ll join us both here and on Twitter (@SheffieldGothic) to take part!

Lauren ‘Bee Afraid’ Nixon is a PhD researcher at the university of Sheffield, whose research focuses on masculinity in the Gothic. Co-organizer of Sheffield Gothic along with Mary Going, she is the Watcher to Mary’s Slayer, and like all good Watchers, she’s sarcastic, English, and always cleaning her glasses.