Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season One from the Feminist Perspective

Buffy the Vampire Slayer defined a genre, a generation of television and subverted the "blonde in trouble" and "the final girl" horror tropes. This month, in addition to interviews and other pieces, we'll be looking at each season from a feminist perspective.

[img_assist|nid=203|title=Buffy is Left to Drown The Master in Prophecy Girl|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=250|height=333]In general, Buffy's first season feels a bit like a hodge podge. While there was an ongoing arc of the Master trying to rise from the underworld of the Hellmouth and thecreation of The Anointed One, there were also a lot of stand alone episodes based on a "monster of the week" format, such as "I Robot, You Jane," "The Puppet Show," and "The Pack" to name a few. One could tell that the show was still finding its footing in the first 12 episode run.

One, however, could see also that Buffy Summers and, to a lesser extent, Willow Rosenberg were evolvoing as strong women. Obviously, Buffy had the physica strength and experience as a slayer before ever moving to Sunnydale. It is her willingness to go back to the calling that cost her a normal life in Los Angeles and that got her expelled from Hemery High that is most compelling about season one.

In the series pilot, "Welcome to the Hellmouth," her first meeting with Giles goes poorly for The Watcher and she dimisses him as someone who can't possibly prepare her fro the emotional pain and cost of her aclling. She flat out rejects destiny. Nevertheless, once her friend Willow is in danger, she rushes off to save her and ends up confronting the vampire minion Luke in the catacombs below Sunnydale.Similarly Buffy's strength of character and dedication to world saving can't be stressed enough in the Whedon-penned season finale "Prophecy Girl." Here, Buffy knows that she is fated to die by the Master's hand and she tearfully tells her Watchter, "Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die. Yet she faces down the Master, even rising from the dead thanks to Xander's CPR and also eventually disposes of the Master.

[img_assist|nid=204|title=Willow Comes to a Monumental Decision in Prophecy Girl|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=224]Additionally, Willow has a journey of her own in season one. She goes from just a slayerette to someone who consciously makes Buffy's mission her own. In "Prophecy Girl," she walks into a school classroom in which her classmates have been massacred by vampires. She notes to Buffy, "It wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs." From this point on, despite having seen evidence of the dangers and death vampires can cause first hand, Willow becomes Buffy's most powerful ally.It's both girls' dedication to good and their willingness to continue their mission that I think reflects a solid feminist spirit in both Buffy and Willow in season one. They're courageous in a way that doesn't just rely on hacking or on Mr. Pointy taking out the bad vamps. They are also girls who face down their greatest fears and death to save others. That strength of character is something all women can see in season one Buffy and Willow and seek to imitate.

Keep an eye out all month as Legendary Women goes through each season of Buffy for our feminist retrospective!