Happy Birthday, Buffy: A Belated Love Letter To My Favorite Slayer

 

“Why don't we start with, 'Hi, I'm Buffy’…”

 When I worked at a gay bar in NYC, a regular customer asked me what my favorite TV show was.

“Well, my favorite TV show is also my favorite thing—Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love it more than most things in life,” I proudly replied.

“Well, that’s…sad. I’ve never even watched that show. But, I’m not into vampire romance stuff,” the customer replied, instantly becoming my least favorite customer.

In case you can’t tell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is really fucking important to me.

 

“How come you didn't tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?”

I thought that was the point.”

 

January 19th is the date the internet and most Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans have decided is Buffy’s birthday. Mostly due to the fact that her birthday episodes always aired at the end of January and that she says, “Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius. You?”

My birthday is January 21st—I like to think her birthday is the same day as mine. I’m an Aquarius but depending on who you talk to/which Astrology books you read, I’m either the first day of Aquarius or the last day of Capricorn.

So.

 

“I'm telling Mom you slayed in front of me.”

           

Full disclosure: my mother, Alicia, was the one who got me into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alicia’s a very outspoken Puerto Rican who loves jewelry and pugs—and Buffy. She might not be your typical geek (or even really identify as one)—but she’s married to a Trekkie and both her sons are self-proclaimed geeks. My favorite toys as a kid were my Star Trek and X-Men figures. She, at the very least, became a geek by association. But, to be fair, her mother, Panchy, only ever watches Jerry Springer, Telenovelas, and weird SyFy Channel horror movies that she’ll describe to me in detail.

“I love her—growing up, all the women in shows I watched were helpless and needed saving. I always wanted them to help in fights but they never did,” is what Alicia will tell you is her reason for loving Buffy.

And I’m not going to lie, I judged Buffy when it first aired and my mother for watching it. I remember the first time I caught her watching it.

“Are you serious, Alicia?”

“Oh, shut the hell up—I love this show.”

This was a typical interaction between us. Alicia and Ian Crawford like what they like and kind of don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks about it.

 

“Thank God we're hot chicks with superpowers.”

 

Sometime that week I decided to finally watch an episode with her. It was Faith’s first episode “Faith, Hope & Trick” and I kind of loved it. I fell in love with Faith, Willow, and Oz immediately.

I fell in love with Oz because I wanted to makeout with him, I fell in love with Faith because I wanted to be her, and I fell in love with Willow because I related to her.

I was bad at watching shows on a weekly basis when I was in high school—so I only caught episodes here and there and would watch them with my mom. She’d call Angel a “hunk” and say, “Oh, I love you” to Buffy whenever she did something badass. I remember being annoyed that I had missed the finale.

I was so annoyed I missed the finale that I barely watched the 4th season because I felt like I’d missed too much. I watched it less and less because I didn’t (and still don’t, if we’re being honest here—and we are) love The Initiative storyline. I even missed the episode where Oz returned and Willow comes out—but, I was able to use context clues to figure out that the spells Tara and Willow were doing together were a metaphor for lesbian sex—I mean, come on, at one point they’re both sweaty and moaning as a magic O floats around them.

Then season 5 aired. I loved Buffy suddenly having this mysterious younger sister who had an adorable bond with Tara. I loved that Buffy and Giles decided to start training more. Xander and Anya were becoming my favorite couple on the show. Willow was becoming more superpowered than ever. I didn’t even hate Riley—I’m, in fact, a Riley apologist. Season 5 quickly made me fall completely in love with the show—and is still my favorite season of Buffy. For me, it has one the strongest casts, the strongest story-arc, the best villain, and Buffy’s hair has never looked better.

 

“Well, now, that came out a lot more lesbian than it sounded in my head.”


In undergrad, I wrote more papers than I can remember on the importance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I did an entire presentation on Willow and Tara being important to the LGBTQ community and showed a clip from “The Body” when they first kiss for a Gender & Sexuality class.

My radical feminist butch lesbian professor told me after class, “I think they make really believable dykes—I’m going to have to watch this show.”

I was elated.

 

“Till the end of the world. Even if that happens to be tonight.”

 

I know a lot of people were disappointed with the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can’t lie—I was even one of those people. But, my only disappointments were that I wanted a “Previously On Buffy” not unlike the one before the season 5 finale, The Gift (ya know, where they show clips from every single episode leading up to that point and it gives me chills) and I wanted to see a cameo from the likes of Oz, Glory, the cast of Angel—basically I wanted The First to turn into every character that had ever died.

I sobbed when Anya met her end. Anya was the character I disliked most when I first got into the show—when I was foolish and young. Now, Anya is hands down my favorite character.

Humblebrag: I legit S C R E A M E D when Emma Caulfield (who potrayed Anya) followed me on Twitter.

My best friend called me after the finale aired to ask if I was okay. I answered the phone still crying because I have a lot of emotions and almost all of them are about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 

“Ow! Watch it, that's my joystick hand.”

I'm not gonna touch that one.”

 

My collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures is treated like delicate porcelain. I was so bummed when the line ended and I never got an Andrew, Riley, Halfrek, or Jenny Calendar. I have spent more money on these toys than I care to admit—and I’d still be spending money on them if they were still being made.

I don’t like anyone touching them—once my best friend and ex boyfriend hid one of my Buffy figures while I was in the bathroom. I walked into my room, looked at their faces, and immediately knew.

“Who touched Buffy?” I yelled without even looking to see that my "Graduation Day" Buffy figure was missing from the shelf.

I am, however, excited to buy all the new retro style figures that have been put out (just let me get a paying job first).

 

“No, it was back before that, since you two went off to college and forgot about me. Just left me in the basement to - Tara's your girlfriend?!”

 

I interned at BuzzFeed for a few months in 2014 and wrote a lot of things about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Charisma Carpenter (aka special favorite Cordelia Chase), Eliza Dushku (aka Faith), and even Queen Sarah Michelle Gellar (aka Buffy herself, you uncultured swine) all interacted with me in some form on Twitter due to my BuzzFeed articles. Working NYCC for BuzzFeed was one of the best experiences of my life. I barely slept and have never been such equal parts stressed out and happy.

But more to the point: I interviewed Amber Benson and she’s every bit as wonderful as you’d imagine.

That same night, my wonderful co-worker Louis Peitzman invited me out for drinks with Amber. Her PR lady, Melanie, was super nice as were her friends TOM LENK (aka Andrew) and ADAM BUSCH (aka Warren). Adam Busch’s parents were even there. Tom Lenk was sassy with me for asking to take a photo with him and I loved it.

I sent my friends insanely nervous I’M-FREAKING-OUT texts the whole night.

My entire life had been leading up to going out with people who worked on my favorite TV show. I kept my cool (mostly) and I asked Amber if I could buy her a shot. I gushed for .5 seconds about how important she was to me. She let me gush, we hugged, took a photo together, and did a shot of Fireball.

Life was happening that night.

 

“Yes. It's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and…everybody lives happily ever after.”

 

So, the bad part is that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has ruined nearly all other things for me. Buffy is what I unfairly compare everything to.

Nothing has:

  • been as equal parts funny and sad
  • had such great villains
  • made me want punch the air while screaming “FEMINISM” as much
  • had such wonderful/silly/perfect fashion
  • been as self-aware
  • filled my bedroom with as many action figures/statues/etc
  • made me feel all the feelings

…in the same way Buffy has. But, I will never tire of rewatching this show. It’s still something my mother and I spend a lot of time discussing. Every boyfriend, good friend, and roommate I’ve had, I’ve gotten to watch all of Buffy (and usually Angel too).  Any time someone is discussing iconic female characters, I bring it back to Buffy—she’s my not only my favorite fictional character, she’s my hero.

So, happy belated birthday, Buffy Summers—I love you.

Facebook: Ian Carlos Photography

Twitter: @ianxcarlos

ianxcarlos's picture
on January 21, 2015

Buffy Summers in her prom dress holding two pugs.