Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Why I Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer

on September 13, 2013

Buffy

For a few months during the first year after I was laid off, I found a TV channel that showed several episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” back-to-back late at night.  At the time I was suffering from insomnia, so I was staying up late so I would be tired enough to fall asleep when I finally went up to bed.  Finding “Buffy” re-runs was both a blessing and a curse; it was a terrific distraction from the non-stop internal monologue I was having about my situation, but it ensured I wouldn’t get to bed until the wee hours every day, which probably wasn’t helpful.

As television shows go, “Buffy” had it all – great writing, characters you cared about as they grew and changed, and solid performances by a terrific ensemble cast.  The reason “Buffy” was so good is that the monsters and magic and vampires were just a vehicle for the real story, which was about life and love and loss and hope and redemption – universal themes that everyone can relate to.

The thing is, I don’t know if “Buffy” would resonate as much if it was just beginning today.  Today we celebrate the anti-heroes, the bad-guys-you-can’t-help-but-root-for types.  It’s Tony Soprano, Dexter and Walter White that fascinate us now.  I’m sure there’s some deep meaning in this trend, but I don’t know what that could be.

What I do know is that for me at that time, “Buffy” represented a simpler world I wished I could be a part of.

Buffy Summers, reluctant hero though she was, knew her enemy and who she was fighting to protect.  At the core of the show was an ongoing battle between good and evil.  Fighting the good fight was difficult and required sacrifice; sometimes those sacrifices were heartbreaking.  Sometimes good characters succumbed to evil, worn out by grief and constant striving, or seduced by visions of earthly power.  Most of the time the lost found their way back, redeemed by the love and faith of their friends.  But if they didn’t, you can be sure they got their comeuppance.  That was how it worked – good always triumphed over evil.

I have never believed that people are either good or bad – human beings are far more complicated than that, and we live with a certain amount of moral ambiguity as a matter of course.   This is not necessarily a bad thing; understanding the complexities of the human heart makes us more willing to forgive others’ faults and show mercy when someone stumbles.  If Tony Soprano’s legacy is that we all become a little less judgmental of each other then I think that’s a good thing.

But I miss the clarity of Buffy’s world.  I miss the black-and-white nature of that universe, where evil was an ugly monster that could be vanquished with a wooden stake.  Life, while not easy, was at least knowable.

During those months as I struggled with my own confusion and sense of loss I would watch Buffy and think how much more straightforward her life seemed.  In our world, evil doesn’t rush at you, claws out.  Your life’s work isn’t as simple as a choice between being a good guy or a bad guy.  I longed to have a life that was clear-cut.  I longed to know what I was supposed to do next.  I knew my answers couldn’t be found in a television drama, but it was a relief to escape the chaos for a time.

That’s why I still miss Buffy.  It would be so much easier if life was just a straight-up fight, but my kind of demons can’t be dispatched with a wooden stake.  Frustration, self doubt, worry, guilt – there is no spell to consign these tormentors to another dimension.  But one thing Buffy knew in her world that does work in this one, and that is to never give up.  Keep your loved ones close and keep fighting.  Because if you do, you will prevail.  Perseverance is rewarded.  Good always wins.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/crusey/443763509/”>Tc7</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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One response to “Why I Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  1. […] Why I Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer (brooksedisblog.wordpress.com) […]

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