Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season One – a review by Luke

In celebration of twenty years of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I will review each of the seven seasons. Being one of my favourite series of all time—if not my absolute favourite—I am excited to write about it!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer logo

It seems appropriate to start with this line: “Welcome to the Hellmouth!” Here, I will review the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here, I will share my thoughts, my love, and even some criticisms. Enjoy it, and don’t forget to come back for my reviews on seasons two to seven!

Every time I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a whirlwind of nostalgia spins around me. Revisiting the first season—well, it always leaves me in awe at how different, how much younger and less experienced, the characters are in the beginning. They all change, evolve, become different, stronger people. However, I’ll discuss that in a later installment. Right now, I’ll focus on how they are in the first season.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer photoshoot. From left to right: Xander (Nicholas Brendon), Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), and Willow (Alyson Hannigan)

At the start, we meet our heroine, Buffy Summers, who wants to live a normal life. Unfortunately for her, the town that she and her mother, Joyce, have relocated to—Sunnydale, California—is situated on a Hellmouth, “the centre of mystical convergence,” which attracts a lot of supernatural activity.

Even as she tries to redeem the normalcy from before her so-called “destiny,” the librarian at her new high school, Rupert Giles (or simply “Giles”), won’t let her forget her destiny; also being her new watcher, it’s his duty to train her, to prepare her for her destiny as the one and only Slayer.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One promotion

As the two-parter series premiere, consisting of Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest, establishes, she doesn’t have to fight the forces alone; her new friends, nerdy, intelligent Willow and geeky Xander, assist her in defeating the many different evils they face, including the Big Bad—The Master, an old vampire (and I mean, really old, as in ancient)—over this season and beyond.

In my opinion, I think the themes explored in the first season (and of course, the rest of the series) still relate to us now, twenty years after it initially aired. The metaphors or symbolism are clever. A deeply relatable one for many would be Out of Sight, Out of Mind (episode 11); during high school, some of us felt invisible, and this episode exaggerates that idea by actually make someone go invisible. Witch (episode 3) is another great example; according to Rhonda Wilcox and David Lavery in Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s a metaphor for parents wanting to live through their child.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer photoshoot: Buffy as portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar

Unfortunately, some of what’s include in the first season can be a bit cringeworthy. I know the budget was low, lower than the other seasons, but some of the special effects and the monsters looks quite bad—cringeworthy. I Robot, You Jane (episode 8) wasn’t a favourite of mine, though I appreciated the focus more on Willow (and I love Willow-centric episodes), and we’re also introduced to Jenny Calendar.

As for the highlights, for me, the two-parter series premiere, consisting of Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest, as well as Witch, Angel, and my personal favourite of the season, the season finale Prophecy Girl, stand out.

The first season of Buffy is still a great, solid introduction to the Buffyverse. Throughout its 12 episodes, it portrays the idea that high school is hell, using some clever metaphors to explore social issues. That theme would continue in seasons two and three, as well as much later on, all the way in the seventh and final season. Despite its flaws, it’s still enjoyable to watch, and I always look forward to revisiting again. In fact, right now, even though I recently finished all seven seasons and am currently continuing with the official comics, I want to…

Look out for my review of Season Two!

Season One

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6 thoughts on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season One – a review by Luke

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