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On Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Meaning of Buffy
Anyone who has watched more than a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer quickly figures out that this television program isn’t really about a gorgeous young woman who kills blood-sucking monsters. Sure, most of the episodes contain pivotal scenes of vampire staking or demon decapitation—but they’re not what the show is about. In fact, at its core, Buffy isn’t even about any of the obvious metaphors that the whole mythology (heroic champion of the innocent battling monsters) might suggest, such as high school as a living hell, or the eternal battle of Good and Evil.
From the very first episode of the series to the final story, on the most consistent, fundamental level, Buffy has been about relationships—how to create them, and how to sustain them once you have them. Not just any relationship, either, but the kind that is strong enough and deep enough to provide answers to life’s ultimate questions (why am I here? where am I headed? what does it all mean?).
The opening scenes of “Welcome to the Hellmouth” (1-1) establish dramatic themes and plot patterns that reverberate throughout the rest of the series. When Buffy Summers arrives in Sunnydale, the last thing she’s thinking about is vampire slaying. Buffy has one and only one subject uppermost in her mind: her relationships with the people around her.
The first example we’re shown is the mother-daughter relationship. Although we clearly see their affection for one another, there’s a lot of strain between Buffy and her mother Joyce because of …
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