Buffy The Vampire Slayer is 25. The TV show, that is. And to celebrate this there’s a new DVD release and a few things along that line, and also this book.
Evan Ross Katz is a huge Buffy and Sarah Michelle Gellar fan. In this book, he has researched the show, it’s cast, it’s backstory, it’s fashion, it’s fans… and he’s written a book that celebrates the show and it’s fandom, as well as looking into why it’s so beloved and why it touched people’s hearts and still has die hard fans today. It also looks at the darker side of the show, and it’s creator Joss Whedon.
The book strikes a playful tone, with asides and a slightly excited, breathless feel, a lot like a fan excitedly sharing their fandom with you. Sometimes it feels a little gossipy, it has interviews with fans as well as cast and crew. It’s very rich in quotes and anecdotes. It sometimes feels a bit mixed media, with excerpts from scripts, interviews, then stories and photos. On the whole, that works. It also really wants to meet a show made back then with where we are today: it’s loved but it’s also got it’s problematic episodes and characters, and of course, the now notorious stories about what went on on set.
I liked looking at the show as a cultural phenomenon or moment. It’s touched people and reached people in different ways that I never knew about. I thought that was really nice. It’s a show that a lot of people roll their eyes about, but when you meet someone and they like it too, it’s a lovely point of connection. I used to have marathons of re-watching it with a friend over sushi, and that’s a really nice memory.
This book feels very for the fans by a fan, and I think that’s fine. There are plenty of books about the show that are more insular, like viewing guides or guides to the creatures of the show, things put out with the seal of the brand or studio that didn’t address the show outside of that, so this feels a bit different, a bit fresh. And of course, more in line with how we see the world in a post-Twitter, post-MeToo world.
One thing struck me as I read this book: that for fans and for the author, the show becomes something they can quote or know inside and out, sort of like a religion. While for the actors, it’s a job that they sometimes enjoyed or sometimes didn’t. It’s not their whole world, their life and career has moved on. They don’t remember all the stories and all their lines. The author talks about this and how sometimes a fan will correct a cast member of a show on a small point. Fandom is such a weird thing.
Read It If: well, this one is for Buffy lover’s, which I guess is obvious. But with it’s take on Buffy as a cultural moment, it would make a great gift for the fan who has everything. (If you give this to someone who maybe is a new fan or hasn’t seen the whole series, this book contains spoilers. Just something to keep in mind).
Thank you to HBG Canada for the copy of this book for review.