Recently, I discovered the entire series of B.uffy the Va.mpire Sla.yer is streaming on hu.lu. I had to watch it, from beginning to end and so the bingeing commenced. When I watched it during it's original airing, it may have been around season 4 when I stopped watching every week because the story line lost me. Let's say that I was in love with seasons 1 through 3 and mildly infatuated from seasons 4 through 7. This go round, I made sure to watch every single episode and seeing it through a lens of 17 years life experience compared to when it began made me far more invested. I know, right? I wondered if I wouldn't like it as much the second time around.
I still love the ass kicking. I still love the humor. I still love the fashion evolution. Important things, you know? I thought the show did a good job in several areas like the gay characters being treated as a natural evolution of discovering oneself through high school and young adulthood. Plus there was inclusion of points of view, such as an ex-demon turned human, and a human turned werewolf. They represented "other" and illustrated the difficulties in navigating a society that doesn't like non conformance. At the same time, the show falls flat in other areas. All white people were the main and supporting characters. Yep, as usual, in fact the entire high school, college and town is blindingly white. The Jamaican and Original slayers were Black, but I was uncomfortable watching their scenes because the portrayal was stereotypical. Bu.ffy was written as pretty sharp tongued sometimes, snarky and poking fun at characteristics of people, like telling the Original slayer to do something with her hair (dreads). Later in the series, a potential slayer is Chi.nese and all the entire cast does is make fun of the fact that they can't communicate with her. Another potential slayer is Black and all she does is complain (although, she does survive the series, so I guess that's a plus). It's revelatory to go back now and be able to point at all these missteps when back in the day, I didn't even blink an eye. In fact, at that time, I was more pissed off at who Buf.fy fell in love with than any real problems with the show.
There were a couple of characters where I was somewhat satisfied with their portrayal: R.iley's friend, Forr.est and Principal Wo.od in the last season They were both Black, and I felt like they weren't being used as tokens, at least not as obviously as the Black slayers. The Black guy was a soldier, and in his tenure on the show, it was just that he was a soldier, instead of making him someone from another country or much different background. Principal Wood is, well a high school principal, and while Buf.fy definitely steps in it by suggesting he grew up in the 'hood, prompting a correction from him, he's mostly just a principal who can kick ass. I tend to think that for the era, they were decent characters, although I'm White and a person of color probably has a different viewpoint. I'm trying to see through a lens of learning what my White privilege is, and I'm going to be wrong most of the time as I wade through it.
As far as lack of feminism, it seems that the issue is more that it's White feminism rather than intersectional that's being portrayed on the show, and I'd agree with that sentiment (hard to be intersectional when everyone is White). I've also read that people don't like the clothing worn by the female characters. It's too tight, too much cleavage, yards yada yada. I call bullshit on that argument. When you watch the show beginning to end in a compressed time period, you see B.uffy's fashion evolution from high school to young adult and it's appropriate. Duh, miniskirts and backless strappy tops were all the rage in the late 90's/early 2000's and by the time she's an adult in seasons 6 and 7 the super tight revealing clothes are pretty much gone. The characters are merely dressed how girls dressed back then. Stop with the pearl clutching already.
I still like the show, even with the numerous shortfalls. I can't believe I was as invested in it as I had been given the crappy special effects and high school setting. In fact, I could totally start over and watch the whole thing again. (don't tell S)