I don't get Buffy the Vampire Slayer, should I give it more time?

**Ok, ground rule: please don’t spoil for me (feel free to use spoiler boxes). I just want to know whether I should keep watching. **

I completely missed the buss on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was kid when it ran the first time, but didn’t know about it till a few shows in, when a friend of mine clued me in on “this realy cool show with vampires and things”. Me being a smart-ass purist at the time, I refused to watch any show if I’d already missed episodes; I told her I’d wait for the reruns.

Anyway, several years later, here I am, having never seen a single episode, and I keep running into people who love this show. My boyfriend’s best friend keeps raving about it, another group of friends were in the middle of a year-long "episode-a-day"marathon. So I give it a try.

And I’m baffled. I’m two episodes in, and so far, these are my conclusions:

  1. It’s mostly badly done slapstick, idiotic dialog, and (granted, I expected this one) mid-nineties TV acting.

  2. Every single character, maybe with the exception of Willow, is a psycopath.

I realise that tastes differ and it wouldn’t bug me if I just didn’t like it. Its just that I feel like someone who has had eleven different people describe lemons as sweet, and then tries one for the first time. I don’t understand how people can sit, years later, discussing inter-personal relationships, charachter development and plot for BTVS, and be living in the same universe as me.

An example; I don’t understand how this conversation (in a thread about sympathy for fictional rapists)…

…can happen, and apply to the universe I’ve just been watching. I mean what? How can this dramatically described rape happen in the same universe as the two episodes I have just seen, where someones best friend gets killed for a joke, and no one ever reacts to it? How can a rape, in such a universe, be anything but farce? I don’t get it.

I might ordinarily assume that the series changes dramatically between the first and sixht season, but my boyfriend has seen an episode here and there, and he tells me the slapstick element just gets worse, and the plot even sillier.

So, are my friends crazy? Am I crazy? Have I fallen into some strange warp-zone, and amwatching an entirely different show than everybody else?

Bottom line: should I give this show a few more seasons before scrapping it, or will it be an exercise in frustration?

Probably. Like many shows, Buffy started a bit slowly (though I disagree with your assessment in point one – Buffy’s dialog was consistently witty, inventive, and clever, and most of the characters were perfectly normal people caught in a difficult situation).

But the show overall is a very good one. What really makes it outstanding is the way it tweaked cliches. Every time you thought you knew where the story was going, Whedon would throw you a perfectly logical curve that was so obvous that you’d wonder why no one ever thought of it before. The strongest point of the show was its plotting and storytelling, and because of the long arcs, the stories could develop in surprising ways.

Keep watching.

I remember when those first two episodes aired. I didn’t like it either. I tried watching one more because everyone was going on about how great it was and I still didn’t care for it. Eventually I caught some very late season two episodes in reruns and I was hooked. The end of season two is spectacularly great. The fact is that season one just isn’t that good. The series found some real depth at the start of season two and it became great (with some crappy episodes).

So I’d say give it another chance. You know the basic premise which is all you really need so I’d say skip to the last three episodes of the season which are better and give you the hook for the next season. Then watch the first episode of the second season and if you don’t want to go on then let it drop. There’s a character arc in there that’s typical of what the show is about (though it gets even better from there) and if you don’t like that then you probably won’t like anything else that’s further in.

Following the 5th season Buffy heads into some really dark territory for the 6th and 7th seasons. I enjoyed seasons 1-5, disliked 6, but I found 7 to be decent though I still think they should have stopped at 5.

If you don’t like it after a few episodes then I wouldn’t bother wasting your time trying to get through multiple seasons. There’s nothing wrong with not liking the show.


The second season is when it really starts to take off. Now if it doesn’t do anything for you, fine. Different strokes and all that. But I think it was a marvelous show full of snappy dialogue, great metaphors, and wimmin I’s like to look at.

There are some truly classic bits of television (and just plain Drama) in the seasons ahead of you. Some episodes I can watch over and over (Pangs, Hush, OMWF, Something Blue) and others that are just too painful to see again (The Body, Seeing Red)(and for different reasons Wrecked and Beer Bad). There is dross in there, sure. But some of it, the majority I believe, is pure gold. Give it a chance.

Which episodes have you seen? Are you starting from Season 1? If so, things really start to improve in Season 2 and really hit their stride from Season 3 on (with a few rough patches here and there).

I found Season 1 pretty weak with poor characterization, bad slapstick and cheesy monster of the week episodes. However, over the years the series develops wonderfully complex characters who relate to each other with smart, witty dialogue. The series also develops some pretty deep storylines rich with metaphors about coming of age, taking responsibility for yourself and others, and self-sacrifice.

I found it well worth struggling through the early episodes and some later rough patches to get the good stuff.

I love this forum, a whole handfull of answers in less than five minutes!

Ok, consensus seems to be that if I don’t like it by season two, I should give up. I can live with that. I’ll head to bed now, and start watching some more tomorrow.

I didn’t discover Buffy until DVD, in 2005. Based on a trusted friend’s urging, I started with Season 1, and was as skeptical as you are now. I barely made it through them, but two episodes before the end of Season 1, I started to think “Hmmm, there’s some real promise here,” and by Season 2, Episode 3, I was a fan for life. Seasons 2 and 3 are my favorites, but once you get past Season 1, the show is consistently great.

And if you want to skip most of season 1, you won’t miss much. But after that, it just gets flat out awesome.

Agreed. Seasons 2 and 3 are the really good ones. Things start going wonky after that.

Oh, I would if I could but…never really grew out of the purist smart-ass thing :smack: It just feels wrong to skip episodes.

*BtVS *is the single greatest TV show in the history of American television. And it just got better as it went on. The corollary to this, of course, is that the first season was the weakest. If you insist on being impressed in order to stick with it, dip into Season 5; try The Body. Otherwise, trust us, and be patient: it gets waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than Season 1.

I’d recommend sticking with the first season. There are plot points that come up which are referenced in later seasons.

I’m another huge fan. I like Whedon’s style of sarcastic writing, his ability to switch from tragedy to comedy, and his tweaking of cliches. I think it’s the best show ever aired on commercial television. It’s certainly the finest fantasy show, not that there’s much competition. I know there’s a backlash against it now, but it still holds up.

My favorite seasons are 3 and 5. I really liked the mayor, and I really liked Glory.

The weakest aspect of the show was Sarah Michelle Gellar. She’s just not a very good actress. But Whedon is one of those filmmakers–Tarantino is another–who can coax a good performance from an untalented actor.

I avoided it in first run, until “Once More, With Feeling” the oft discussed, oft debated, musical episode in Season Six. Then I scrambled like crazy to catch up on seasons 1-5. I completely agree that the first few episodes of the series were feeling out their audience, testing the waters as it were. I, however, am in the minority in that I thought Seasons 6 and 7 were as good, and in some if the individual episodes, better than 1 thru 5. If you decide to stick with it, and you do watch all 7 seasons, you might want to also watch all 5 seasons of Angel. Some people start Angel concurrently with Buffy season 4 and alternate. Which can work out plotwise as there were a few crossover episodes along the way. Then when you’re all done watching Buffy, check out the [del]comic books[/del] graphic novels of Season Eight. :wink:

Okay Septima, just accept that the next four or five episodes suck. Things pick up at Angel (the episode, not the character), fall back into the hole for an incredibly bad robot episode, and then starts the “good stuff”.

Personally I hate being told “It gets good later so you have to sit through six hours of crap before you can be entertained!” A good show shouldn’t force you to put up with that kind of low quality for an extended period. This is why I recommend jumping ahead; you’ve got the back story and the two or three important elements that get introduced to you in those bad episodes are simply referenced in the later episodes (something that isn’t done as well later on; jumping into season three, for example, is a bad idea).

I’m assuming here that you aren’t a Whedon fan from his other works (Angel, Firefly/Serenity, the comic Astonishing X-Men).

If I’m right, then I suggest you skip it.

I’m looking at your specific complaints:

The first suggests that you simply don’t like Whedon’s signature snappy dialog. The second… Well, I don’t really get where you’re coming from in the second. You do understand that in the Buffy story that vampires are creatures of pure evil that can be slain guiltlessly, right?

The people above me are right. The plots get deeper. The writers and actors start to really get the feel of their characters. Seasons 2 and 3 are some of the best television ever. But I’m picking up signs that this show simply isn’t for you.

Aw, comon, the robot episode is great if you want to get your first glimpse of angry Willow, one of my favorite features of early seasons of Buffy. :smiley:

But yeah, other than that, the robot episode kinda bites. I am a fan of the nightmare episode, however.

No, I haven’t watched a lot of Whedons work, but whenever someone actually quotes lines at me, I laugh. These two episodes where just so full of the signature, mid-nineties “brainded schoolgirl chatter”, which I hate; nobody talked like that, and I was a schoolgirl at the time. Example:

“When I go out shoping, I like to buy the most expensive thing, not because it’s expensive, but because it costs more.

I mean, WTF? Ok, It’s funny when I write it out, but it was really unfunny on screen. Might be the actress.

Another example:

Airhead#1: “Wish I’d been there!”
Cordelia: “You should have been there!”

At a place where people got killed? Really? Yes, It’s for laughs, it just doesn’t make sense and again, the delivery was really unfunny.

It’s one thing to know that something can, in theory, be killed without guilt, and to actually kill it whitout feeling. And I would still expect someone who just had his recently turned best friend killed in front of him to…react? At all? Even more so a character who has never heard of vampires before that morning, and has never killed anything before in his life. It just seemed so off that he not only didn’t react as a feeling human being (Shock? Horror? Regret?) he didn’t react at all.

And If you already know there are vampires out there, you should realize that moving town and throwing some sort of angsty hissy-fit isn’t going to magic them away. I don’t know her history, but Buffy, as presented in the first two episodes, seems a bit scrambled in the brain department. Yeah, she’s sixteen. If she was six, I would still say she was too old for her behaviour to make sense. Again, might be the acting, though.

But, if it’s as everyone says, and things get better in a few episodes, I’ll keep at it. I didn’t say I wasn’t entertained, just not for the right reasons. And bits here and there were entertaining for the right reasons. The scene in the beginning, with the “shy” girl in the abandoned school who has her boy-for-the-night check carefully if there is anyone in the buidling, then morphs and drains him? Gold!

And Willow fibbing Cordelia into deleting her homework by saying she could save by hitting “deliver”? Gold again, cept for the braindead chatter earlier on.

I’m actually sad I didn’t see this as a young girl, because I would have loved it back then. Did most of you see this when you were young teens?

I didn’t discover it until I was 27.

I’m just going to take a moment to plug Angel. While I enjoyed Buffy quite a bit (well, I never did get around to watching seasons 6 and 7) I thought Angel was the superior show. I hated the character of Angel while he was on Buffy, but liked him much more once he got his own show. For a show that seemed to have started off as a dumping ground for characters the main series didn’t need anymore (Angle, Cordelia, Wesley, and [much later] Spike), it turned out very well.