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April 04, 2003
OPINION
The Struggle
by Daniel Erenberg

I'm not going to lie to you. If this article seems a bit stream of consciousness, that's because it is. It's rough having to come put with somewhat interesting topics on a weekly basis, and this week I couldn't think of anything. I thought for a really long time. I've written about spoilers, villains, Angel, Firefly. Hell, I even wrote a piece about Buffy Porn. What else is there?

The struggle. That's right, the struggle. We've all gone through it. The title of our favorite show is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, not the most scholarly of titles. If it was just called Slayer, no one would bat an eye when they find out it's your favorite show. But we are ridiculed and patronized. And we have to deal with it.

I guess that's the test of the true Buffy fan. The true Buffy fan can tell anyone that it's his or her favorite show without so much as a hint of embarrassment.

It doesn't sound, or look for that matter, like a prestigious or innovative show. It is. We know this by now. We've all seen 'Becoming', or 'Hush', or 'Restless', or 'The Body', or 'Once More With Feeling'. We know the brilliance of the show. We have to deal with the people that have only seen 'that praying mantis one' or 'the one with the dude from Three's Company'. This isn't to say that those episodes, 'Teacher's Pet' and 'Ted', are without merit. But, to the uninitiated, they seem to be.

It's hard to get others into the show. There's an initial reluctance to watch it, based entirely on the title. Then, there's the fact that the show is so rooted in its own mythology that it's nearly impossible to get into it now. Imagine that you're a channel surfer that happened to catch 'Showtime' randomly. You would not get anything that was going on.

There's no jumping-on point. I once told someone about the end of 'After Life' and it intrigued them so much that they decided to actually watch the next episode, 'Flooded'. This person watched it without an inkling of what was going on and never went back for seconds.

This summer, I showed my friend Stephen 'Innocence' and it took me fifteen minutes to get him up to date. Then, while watching this most brilliant of episodes, he would quote Alyson Hannigan's American Pie catch phrase of 'this one time at band camp' every time Willow appeared onscreen.

Recently, Marvel Comics has been lowering the prices of issues that are good jumping-on points for new readers. Writer Mark Waid's first issue of The Fantastic Four was solicited for nine cents, the first issue of the recent Daredevil story arc, 'Lowlife' was twenty-five cents, and they're doing the same thing with Uncanny X-Men next month. Sadly, there's no way to lower the price of a television show.

Writing this article has gotten me thinking about whether I'd support a different title, like Slayer or something simpler and more serious than the one it already has. I've come to the conclusion that I wouldn't. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, despite the scoffing that erupts whenever it's mentioned, is the perfect title for the show. We have the bright side of life represented in the loopy California name Buffy, that's immediately obscured in the darkness of the term Vampire Slayer. This is just like the show that exists with a joking nature that is always pushed away in favor of the dark. However, the show has also shown us that this lightness can coexist with the dark. That's what's called 'shades of gray', loyal readers, something that most shows aren't capable of portraying. Recently, I watched an episode of the wretchedly black and white 7th Heaven. Need I follow through with my opinion on that trash?

Anyhow, the struggle. I'm trying to make this article cohesive. Perhaps a better title for this article would be 'Rant'. Perhaps not.

The struggle exists. People poke fun at you for watching it and you argue (and I know you do) that it's critically acclaimed. They ask if it's ever been nominated for an Emmy. You argue that it was nominated for a writing Emmy and even won an Emmy for Christophe Beck's score. Yes, but that's Writing and Score.

Which gets me started on the Emmy's. The Emmy's, which are far less prestigious than the Oscars and far more prestigious than the Grammy's, are a sorry excuse for a show to award great television. Constantly, they award such supposedly hip fare as Ally McBeal or The Practice (two David E. Kelley shows that won best show in their respective genres in the same year). They give bundles of awards to the ever-decreasingly interesting The West Wing, the declining The Sopranos, the stereotypical, not to mention unfunny Will and Grace, and the so-atrocious-I-can't-believe-the-critics-like-it Malcolm In The Middle. The year Joss Whedon was finally nominated for Best Writing for the deserved 'Hush', he was nominated against three West Wing episodes. Blecch.

Remember that time 'The Body' wasn't nominated for anything? That's the moment in history that made me lose all respect for awards shows. However, you're friends look to the Emmy's for guidance on what to watch, am I right? Alias is a buzz show, Jennifer Garner gets nominated, ratings go up, it gets the post-Super Bowl slot. Need I remind you of Friends (yes, I watch it just like everyone else in the Universe. I'M SHALLOW, DAMMIT!)? Your friends don't see Buffy getting nominated for awards, therefore critics don't like it, therefore they don't watch it, and therefore ratings remain low.

There isn't so much more that I'd like to detail. The Struggle will exist long after Buffy no longer does. We love it. They don't. Rejoice in your solidarity.






Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday nights. You can contact Daniel on daniel@slayage.com.

Latest Comments

if you think that the buffy game idea is a good game comment on it and add some things.

Posted by: ros on July 16, 2004 02:25 AM

i really think that there should be a third buffy game i think it should have the graphics of the first game and the cheats and it should be 4 player in story mode, it shouold be also based around the last season so you would have to find the potential slayers and train them you would do this by taking them slaying with you where another player could join in and play.

Posted by: ross on July 16, 2004 02:23 AM

Is anyone else getting annoyed by these random quotes someone posts everywhere?

Posted by: Lia on April 27, 2004 01:29 PM

I wouldn't worry about the Emmys snubbing Buffy. All those crappy shows that win the awards will be long gone and forgotton in five years whereas Buffy's will most likely be like Star Trek before it and always have its loyal cult following. Besides all the coolest stuff never wins awards. For example, Interview with the Vampire, the best movie ever ever ever, wasn't nominated for much of anything. It was a gorgeous movie with wonderful performances but Oscar snubbed it too. Award shows are rigged and every nominee is selected by crusty old guys who will almost always pick old familiar crap over new, inventive, and exciting. Why do you think crap shows like Everybody Loves Raymond have won so many damn awards?

Also I totally have to deal with the ridicule for watching Buffy. My best friend abosolutely hates that show and will only watch occasional episodes that contain Spike shirtless. Truthfully, I think she does like the show but she just doesn't want to admit it and endanger dampening her coolness factor. My brother hates it as well and a majority of my friends just don't get it. Lucky for me, though, my dad is hooked so he bought me all the DVDs. I mean I now have a select group of friends who like the show just as much as I do but it still sucks to have a best friend who doesn't even let me gush about the show every now and then. I think the reason so many of us have to endure teasing from our friends is because BtVS is one of those shows you either absolutely love or absolutely hate. It has a very specific somewhat campy humor mixed with intense drama that not everyone "gets." I live for shows like Buffy. For me, Buffy and Angel are TV therapy. I can relate every relationship Buffy has had to one of my own or one a friend around me has had. I know a friend who's had a Buffy/Angel relationship, one who's had a Buffy/Spike relationship, and I've had a Buffy/Riley relationship and a Buffy/Parker relationship. I can match everyone in my life to someone on BtVS. I just wish my life was as well-written and witty as Buffy is.

Still, I guess I kind of like that all my other friends shun Buffy. I mean, it gives me something I can like that I know no one will try and steal from me. All of us BtVS and Angel fans have something special not found many other places: an escape. Because thats what our show is, its an hour long escape from the real world and it puts our lives in perspective. It lets us say hey, my life is bad but at least I don't have to deal with the crap Buffy deals with. I know its kinda cold, but its always nice to see people worse off than I am.

Posted by: Lia on October 6, 2003 11:40 PM

I agree, the Emmy awards are so damn annoying. I taped them this year (yes... I was watching Alias the "buzz show") so I could fast forward through the boring parts. That ended up being most of it. The same shows just won over and over again. There were three highlights for me in three hours of tv: Debra Messing winning as I actually enjoy Will and Grace... well I used to before I started watching Buffy. The Amazing Race winning. I generally despise reality tv but I absolutely love this show. The third highlight was during the 'in memoriam' thing for John Ritter. I was very sad to hear he died so I didn't fast forward that bit. I jumped for joy when I saw a flash of his guest bit in 'Ted'. Anyway, enough about the Emmy awards....

You said that there was no jumping in point for Buffy. This is not true. What I'm about to say is very shaming, and my cheeks are already glowing red in anticipation. I only started watching Buffy in season seven. There, I've said it. I feel awful and disgusting but that's the truth. One night I was too lazy to go to bed so I just kept the tv on and decided to watch Buffy as two of my best friends are devoted fans. The episode was 'Same Time, Same Place' and I had NO IDEA what was going on. I kept watching though, and enjoyed the funny dialogue ("Spike's insane in the basement." "Spike's what in the whatment?" "Do you have the powder?" "Oh, I ate that." "I'm insane, what's his excuse?") Basically all the Spike and Anya scenes. I kinda picked up a lot of what was going on by the end. Something about Willow having killed people... I was very proud of myself for having watched it and boasted to all my Buffy inclined friends the next day at school. I was intrigued.

A few days later, I had the fortune of becoming sick and not being able to go to school. My thoughtful mother decided to borrow some Buffy videos from the library where she works, after hearing me mention it a few times. She didn't realise there was an order, and borrowed season six part two "Doublemeat Palace" but I didn't mind. In that weekend I watched all of season six and even learnt some of the songs from "Once More, With Feeling" (And I went to The Rolling Stones concert!!!).

Over the next six weeks I managed to convert my sister and watch every single other episode there was. Now, six months, one week and two days later, I own seasons one to six on dvd, season seven on video ( I taped it off the tv), the OMWF soundtrack and script book, my walls are covered in Buffy posters and I spend all my time either watching Buffy, reading about it on the internet, writing fanfic or quoting it. I've seen every episode of Angel at least twice and have six fish called Spike, Giles, Anya, Xander, Miss Edith and Miss Kitty Fantastico.

It just proves that Buffy can suck you in with one episode, the way it sucked me in and now rules my life.

Posted by: amelia on October 2, 2003 05:13 AM
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