When I was 10, the WB premiered a new hit show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” As an avid fan of “Dawson’s Creek,” I thought I would give it a try and I soon became hooked. After watching the show through Season 2, I became disillusioned, disinterested and indifferent after the death of my favorite character, Angel.
As I’d later find out, Angel would make a reappearance in the next season, but that didn’t stop me from turning off the TV and turning on the radio dial (Britney Spears, Spice Girls, and Backstreet Boys). Yes, I am a child of the ’90s. Can’t you tell?
Fast forward six years later. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was about to go off the air when I saw a commercial on FX that advertised reruns for the show airing early in the morning. I decided to tape the episodes and watch them when I got home from school. It was a tradition that lasted for almost a year. It was during this time that I saw the “Scooby Gang” (Buffy and her friends) go from high school to college, from poms poms to beer and from straight to gay. My first female celebrity crush, Allyson Hannigan, who plays Willow on the show, found herself not only discovering her Wicca talents, but also her feelings for women — well, one woman in the fourth season. Tara, played by Amber Benson, is a young, Wicca, blonde and shy woman who not only kindles with Willow and her Wicca spirit, but her erotic and sensual spirits as well.
At age 16, when I was well aware that I liked women, Tara and Willow’s relationship especially touched me. Not only did I think they were the cutest and hottest couple on television (gay or straight), but I found that their relationship was seldom put in a box, a stereotype or anything that “screamed” lesbian. They just happened to be two women who fell in love. Their friends’ reactions to their relationship was real, accepting and refreshing to a ton of queer viewers who saw their pairing as a beacon of hope and inspiration. I know it was for me.
Willow and Tara’s relationship, still today, is the longest lasting lesbian relationship on cable television. “The L Word” has definitely reached out to many viewers, but only those who can see Showtime. With Buffy, Joss Whedon, the creator of the show, was able to take Tara and Willow’s relationship to an entirely new viewer base. Not only did he reach the queer audience, but many straight viewers who might have otherwise seen lesbians as a stereotype and not as people. With Tara and Willow, they were able to see lesbians beyond the stereotypes and see the qualities that make them equally human and unique.
For a show that has been off the air since 2003, “Buffy” has become even more a cult classic among its avid viewers and continually created new fans. It’s engendered a plethora of scholarly studies on queers in the media and on television, gay and lesbian studies, gender studies and much more.
For those who think “Buffy” was just a television show adapted from a cheesy movie, it’s become so much more than that. If you love more than just one genre of television, if you want a different kind of show, if want to see the sweetest, most honest lesbian TV romance that ever existed, then “Buffy” is your show. You’ve got 144 episodes over seven seasons to enjoy — so eat some popcorn, enjoy soda (or pop) and slay some vampires.