13 March 2017

Buffy turned 20 last Friday

As if I needed yet another reminder of my advancing age, one of my favourite television series of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, premiered 20 years ago last Friday.

I was not a fan of BtVS in its early years. The premise seemed rather ‘silly’ to me, so I did not bother to watch the first few seasons. I was in graduate school at the time, and some of my peers would rave about it while we hung out in the computer room or grad lounge. But I didn’t start watching it until around 2001-02. I didn’t have cable, and so only received about 3 televisions stations on my crappy old box. One of those stations, though, played BtVS reruns late at night (around 1 a.m., I think). I was struggling to write my dissertation at the time, and so would often turn on the tube after a long day of procrastination and self-loathing, only to catch an episode. Very quickly I realized what a fool I had been to write off the series before! Within a couple of weeks I had purchased DVDs of whatever previous seasons were available for sale. By the time the series ended after 7 seasons I had watched every episode (even the bad ones) at least twice. In the years that followed I watched the entire series again at least twice.

While I have not thought much about the series in recent years—I last watched the entire thing with my spouse around 2009 (shortly after we got married)—it has given me countless hours of joy. Its mix of humour, horror, adventure, and drama was—and remains—unique.

Anyhow, it seems that the folks at Vox are big fans of Buffy as well, as they posted a ranking of all 144 episodes, from the worst to the best. I think that the ranking is broadly correct, though I would of course quibble with some specific decisions. In particular, I would rank ‘The Body’ at #1—in fact, “The Body” may be one of the greatest television episodes ever. I certainly can’t think of a more powerful one in any series!

Yes, there definitely are some weak BtVS episodes (“Beer Bad” is … bad). But at its best, BtVS was amazing. And even its middling episodes remain superior to 98% of what’s available on television. (Okay, maybe it’s only 97% these days, thanks to such excellent shows as The Game of Thrones).

All of the ‘top 10’ episodes are truly epic. Thanks Joss!


  1. I'm the same age as Buffy. Not the show, the character.

    I also thought it was silly when it first came on and never really gave the show a fair shake until I was in college.

    I've been meaning to re-watch the series since it's all on Netflix, but I just haven't found the time/motivation.

    Incidentally, I have run the BtVS roleplaying game that Eden published while the show was still on. Given your gaming preferences, I'm guessing it would not be your jam at all, but I do have to give it credit for the mechanics producing a pretty faithful representation of the show.

    Anyway, hats off to BtVS.

    1. Actually, I own the BtVS (and Angel) RPGs, as well as a few supplements, but never managed to run it. I agree that it's not my usual style of gaming, but it looked well done and interesting nonetheless. I'd like to try it some day...


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).