Awwwww, thank you friend. When people say things like that, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
[casually takes this opportunity to ramble about BTVS]
Hundreds of essays and even entire books have been written on the significance of Buffy Summers in popular culture and the fictional canon. (I have a lovely anthology on Whedon in academia on my shelf right now actually.) It’s one of those things that I’ve already written on in my academic post-secondary career and I hope to again because the topic is so rich.
Having a popular show with a strong female lead is so important. I’m cautious to say strong female character, because society has warped that term to assume that Buffy is only strong when she’s staking vampires and kicking ass. Buffy is incredibly strongly written and complex though.
We need more characters like Buffy. Someone who fills the hero role in every possible way and if often saving her less competent male allies (I love you Xander but….) Someone who little girls everywhere can look at the screen and see a strong woman kicking ass. But also someone who is flawed and can’t always save the day every time. Someone who relies on the people around her when she needs it most. Someone who gets knocked down and gets back up again even stronger. All of that was so important and revolutionary and still is.
Buffy Summers is a hero of a generation.
On a personal level for me, being a kid growing up in the early 2000s and raised by a single mother, I remember that a Buffy rerun was on every day at 3 pm on MTV and I always watched it with my mom. It was like religion. That was such an important thing to be exposed to growing up, all of that strong and vulnerable female characterization that is so largely lacking in television as a whole.
Buffy changed the way that female characters are written. Sarah Manning wouldn’t exist the way she does without the legacy of Buffy Summers. Olivia Pope. Daeneyrs Targaryen. Claire Underwood. Piper Chapman. Alicia Florrick. Selena Meyer. In recent years our tv screens have become populated by more and more complex female characters. There’s a reason that the Emmy category for lead actress in a drama is arguably the most competitive this year — there are more and more complex women for amazing actresses to bring to life. That is a legacy owed largely to Buffy.
No character is truly perfect, and the fact that I can find several notable characters that I would argue are better written than Buffy is a testament to that. This is nothing against Whedon or Buffy or whatever — I am as big a Whedon fan as you’ll find. She’s just….flawed, as every person is. Her execution can be read as flawed, as every character’s can. It really all is personal preference. If I come right out and say that Buffy is written perfectly, someone can pull example of how in certain instances she was imperfect to them.
That’s the lovely thing about reading characters, we all see and relate to different things and different things sit differently with everyone.
I doubt anyone could name a perfectly executed character. The world has it’s Walter Whites, Atticus Finches, and Jean Valjeans. It also has it’s Buffy Summerses, Elizabeth Bennetts, and Anne Shirleys. There are important characters everywhere, but no one is flawlessly written to everyone. That’s the wonderful thing about fiction.
I could write for ages on why BTVS as a production revitalized tv and changed our scope from episodic story to serialization and the concept of the Big Bad and all of that stuff, but from a character perspective yeah, I think Buffy Summers is flawed but so fundamentally important to television as we know it.
Really my personal opinion more than anything, but I will defend the importance of Buffy to pop culture to the death, haha.