Moments in Buffy: The Chosen One was Just a Girl
When the Buffy tv series started, I was a Freshman in high school. Buffy, of course, was a sophomore on the show, and I pretty much wanted to be her. (I’m sure there is a picture, somewhere, of a disastrous haircut, where I had layers – not good for my hair time or facial structure.)
That show had, and has, a lot of personal significance for me. It was a perfect storm of awesome.
There was wit, humor, compelling characters, character evolution, and a Doomed Relationship.
What? I’m a sucker for the star-crossed lovers bit. (Of course, I’m talking about Buffy and Angel. And, no, that’s not a spoiler. The show’s been in reruns for a long time now.)
I suspect that the reason Buffy resonated with so many people is that she was, at her core, just a girl. She was a girl dealing with circumstances she had no say in. She was fighting things that scared the laymen and, quite possibly, ate him. (I’m looking at you, Principal Flutie and Principal Snyder.)
Sure, Buffy was the Chosen One. She slayed things while wearing awesome leather pants. She burst into song because someone *cough* Xander *cough* accidentally performed a summoning spell.
But she also dated a total tool (Parker), watched her first real love walk away (Angel), and struggled with identity (who she was vs. who people needed her to be).
Buffy was a girl trying to do right in a world of wrong. She stepped up to the plate, even when it was the last thing she wanted to do. She did what any of us do when we’re faced with impossible, terrible, or scary things: she put one foot in front of the other. She took action. She didn’t let herself be defined by what the Hellmouth wrought.
So, why am I talking about this? It’s an odd thing to do – to draw comfort from a tv show, especially one that’s no longer airing new episodes. But I do.
I may not have ever tried out for the cheerleading squad, had to run my ex-lover through with a sword, or faced The First (from beneath you, it devours) – but I have felt lost, had awkward run-ins with exs, and been unable to speak (Hush was a beautiful episode).
Yes, in a narcissistic way, I see myself in Buffy. I think that’s the mark of a good, enduring character (literary or otherwise): she makes us contemplate ourselves. Feel. Identify. Commiserate. Remember. Consider. Grieve. Cheer. Laugh.
That moment, where Angel and Buffy stare at each other through the smoke (right after Graduation)? That KILLS me every single time I watch it. I’m seventeen, again, with the words of Sarah McLachlan rattling around in my head.
The episode where Buffy loses her mom? I’m a total mess. It’s just…raw. And honest. And real. It’s horrifying, because it seems to come out of the blue. It reminds us that death is always unexpected. No matter what, you can’t prepare for it. It isn’t possible.
The end of the musical episode where Buffy and Spike kiss? I want that to be wrong, but then I start rooting for them to make it work. Because it’s so bassackwards and insane, that it works. It’s so crazy that it makes sense. Two people who used to hate each other fall in love. The key in both of those things is passion. It’s apathy you have to worry about, there. Those two? Never apathetic about each other.
Today is a Buffy kind of a day. In fact, I’m putting the soundtrack on right now. Later on, I’m going to watch an episode or two. Because we can all use a little reminder, now and then, that we are capable of more than we know.
That you, me, and that chick in the back (the one with the great highlights) – is stronger than we allow ourselves to admit. We’re not weak, even when life seems like one big World of Suck. We don’t cower. We don’t back down. We don’t give up. We figure out what to do next.
That’s what true strength is.
“I don’t know what’s coming next. But I do know it’s gonna be just like this – hard, painful. But in the end, it’s gonna be us. If we all do our parts, believe it, we’ll be the ones left standing. Here endeth the lesson.” ~Buffy