Women of Awesomeness: Buffy Summers

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Buffy MovieIn 1992 Joss Whedon (creator of oh so many things beloved in geek/nerdom) brought us a singularly appealing movie; Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At first blush it just looked silly. It was about a self-centered, cute ditzy cheerleader who just so happened to be the long lost mystical Slayer of vampires. Turns out the movie was much better than expected. It was witty, sweet and funny. (It also featured what I think is one of the best death scenes ever by Paul Reubens.) Had things been left at that, Buffy would have become one of those fun little trivia things geeks like to throw out in drunken conversation.

The in 1999 something special happened. Buffy came to TV. (While the series didn’t quite fit in with the movie, continuity wise, the original script was adapted into a comic called “The Origin” and Whedon has accepted it as canonical.) I was skeptical of the idea of a TV show, but being a fan of the movie I gave it a go. By the end of the first episode I was fairly well convinced that it would be a fun thing to watch. I was afraid it wouldn’t last more than a season, shows I like that much early on haven’t always had the best track record. (This is a phenomena that I am pleased to report is not happening as much these days.) I quickly became a fan of the show and stuck with it faithfully almost all the way to the end. (The last half of the final season I was in Hawaii and the local cable company ceased carrying the channel the show was on. I was able to eventually get caught up on things, but I missed out on the weekly viewings as it was happening.)

Buffy & Spike

What made Buffy so special? Well, in part it was because of well written scripts, good dialogue, the occasional catchy tune (yay musical episodes Once More with Feeling season 6 episode 7) and some groundbreaking events. I mean they even had a show with almost no dialogue in it whatsoever! (Hush; season 4 episode 10)

buffyBuffy’s development throughout the series is what makes her worthy of being on the Women of Awesomeness list. She starts off as a self-centered girl with no real appreciation of her talent and the need for her in the world.  By series end she is something of a marvel, she is confident, scarred, and wise. Throughout her journeys she suffered tremendous loss, and great victory. Heck, she died twice saving the world. (She dies in the season one finale and again in the season five finale.) There’s a third death but that one happened in an alternate universe and it wasn’t the Buffy of canon that died, plus the entire incident was undone at the end of the episode with only a couple of people who remember it, Buffy has no knowledge of that alternate existence. There’s also a fourth possible death at the end of season 6. Buffy was shot and in critical condition and there’s speculation that she flat-lined briefly, but that’s never been confirmed.

Anyways, it’s safe to say that Buffy took a beating during the shows run. Of all the women I’ve discussed so far I think we can agree that, physically, Buffy is the most kick-ass. She’s never met a weapon she couldn’t use, she’s agile, heals quickly, and can do a flying split kick. Of course it helps that she’s far from normal. She’s a supernatural figure herself, complete with an array for powers like danger sense and heightened senses.

buffy scoobiesAnother weapon in Buffy’s arsenal is her support structure. Fondly called the “Scoobies,” they consist of Willow and Xander and a host of others who have come and gone, like her sister Dawn, Anya the ex-revenge demon, Tara and more. Willow and Xander were the new girls first and best friends, they’ve been with Buffy ever since she came to Sunnydale. There’ve been others who have been instrumental in Buffy’s success as a Slayer (and as a TV series) like Cordelia Chase (one of the more developed second line characters for sure) and Faith (another Slayer activated after Buffy’s death. Creating a chain that would lead to there eventually being more than one Slayer at a time.)

Of all of Buffy’s support structure there is one that can be said to be the most vital. Rupert Giles, formerly known as “Ripper.” (I’m still hoping they’ll make the “Ripper” series.) He started off as Buffy’s guide, her would-be mentor. It was his responsibility to shape the Slayer into a killing force, to mold her and guide her and keep her alive as long as possible. He became a friend, and more he became a father figure for Buffy. In the end he had to do as all fathers must, he had to let Buffy go.

In the end Buffy (still kicking butt in comic book form) did what no other Slayer before her had done… lived to fight another day.

Flourish 3

 

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