Hidden Themes in the Television Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Topics: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy Summers, First Evil Pages: 6 (2132 words) Published: December 15, 2008
Since its invention in 1928, the television has had a tremendous effect on many aspects of society. Now, unlike film, people could sit in the comfort of their own homes and look into different worlds and situations which they have never experienced before. Shortly after the implementation of the television set into the American household, the television series was developed and has dominated the air waves ever since. The television series offered an element that film could not. Rather than viewing a one-shot story, television series tell many stories over the course of long periods of time. Character development is much deeper than in film and long, drawn out stories can continue on story arcs over the course of each season. Many television series have been classified as “classics”, but one that stands out above the rest in my mind is Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS). BtVS has a very wide fan base and has actually been incorporated into many college level courses that deal with pop culture and philosophy at many respected universities. BtVS offers deep intellectual insight on various complicated philosophical topics including spirituality, ethics and morals, and also addresses many of the real world pressures people face while growing up, all while continuing to appeal to many different types of people.

BtVS was created in 1997 by Joss Whedon after an unsuccessful movie by the same name. The show was broadcast on the WB network from 1997 thru 2001 and on UPN from 2001 thru 2003 for a total of seven successful seasons. Simply put, the series told the tale of a young girl from Los Angeles who was chosen to fight evil in the world. The series began where the movie left off with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moving from in Los Angeles, California to Sunnydale, California. The story was centered around Buffy Summers, her watcher Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and her two best friends Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander (Nicholas Brendan). Each season of the show roughly followed the same format, which was a “big bad” at each season’s end, with Buffy and her gang fighting smaller, more insignificant villains throughout the majority of the season. BtVS has been said to contain a deep insight into the area of spirituality. Some have even said that the story of Buffy parallels the story of Jesus Christ because of her narrow following, saving of the world, ultimate self-sacrifice, and resurrection. Finding God in BtVS can be quite a difficult task, although finding hints of God or a higher power is a different story. In the world in which the series takes place (often referred to as the Buffiverse), God’s presence is never clearly evident in any episode, although there are hints at a higher power of good taking control at times. In the episode “Amends” Buffy is battling an entity known as The First Evil. The plan of this entity is to have Buffy’s vampire boyfriend, Angel (David Boreanaz), kill either Buffy or himself. Angel is strong enough not to hurt Buffy, but he does try to kill himself. Angel is a vampire with a soul, which makes him good and he is having trouble living with the things he has done before he got his soul back. In an effort to explore the religious and philosophical content of BtVS, Wendy Love Anderson describes the events that take place in the episode “Amends” below: ”Amends” features the ensouled vampire Angel being overwhelmed by horrific visions of his past victims until he finally plants himself outside on Christmas Eve to await sunrise and inevitable death. As Buffy pleads with him to reconsider, unseasonable snow begins to fall in the Southern California town of Sunnydale, miraculously obscuring the rising sun and preserving Angel’s (un)life. The episode ends with a montage of characters marveling at the snow while the camera pans past a theater marquee reading “PRAY” (Anderson 212).

In this episode, Angel was saved by a seemingly higher power. In another episode entitled...

Cited: B. South. Peru, IL: Open Court, 2003. 212-226.
Court, 2003. 282-293.
Riess, Jana. What Would Buffy Do?. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004
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