I have been a fan of Buffy since I was about 7. I was a pretty tough kid, so with a couple of exceptions (looking at you season seven flesh-eating green creep) I didn’t find it that scary. I don’t want to be flippant, but in the way of many things we experience in our lives, Buffy has shaped who I am today. My sense of humour, enthusiasm for ass-kicking females, an early understanding of queer relationships, my interest in comic books and the confidence that women can be powerful and are entitled to take up space are all things that I have taken with me.
For me Buffy the Vampire Slayer is important. I love it, it’s not perfect but it is my favourite TV show. So finding out about a potential remake isn’t sitting to well for me. A reboot yes! A new vampire slayer with a new story, her own journey and life to claim – do it. That would be excellent, in fact there are tonnes of Buffyverse lore that you could tease a story from. To me, remake is a pretty dirty word. To start with, it lacks imagination and creativity. It really wouldn’t be difficult to give this new slayer a different name and bunch of Scoobies. Today’s entertainment market is saturated with adaptations, remakes/reboots and sequels/prequels. Hollywood is busting at the money bag seams with franchises that may outlive a lot of us.
But why is a reboot better than a remake? A remake means taking the same story, same characters and same plot and basically filming it with younger people with a more modern style (and probably cultural references). So thinking about age, the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired in 1997, over 20 years ago. After recently re-watching the series with my tall friend some aspects that haven’t aged well are a little jarring. The whole Xander thing he has with Buffy in the first few seasons is pretty icky, he is possessive and entitled and the epitome of the friendzoned nice-guy. But he is also a teenager, and speaking as someone who was one, teens aren’t always the most socially and morally adept individuals. Excuses aside, certain social aspects of the show could be reevaluated (Willow is BI and I will fight you on this). The technical side of stuff could definitely look better too, the very early CGI is quite bad; however I don’t see why this can’t be improved along with a blu-ray release of the show in original aspect ratio, pretty please?
There really isn’t much that a remake can add to a show that is a cult classic, a reboot however is the opportunity to explore the Buffyverse further, give young girls today a new hero (a WOC is an excellent way to go) and do justice to the show’s dedicated fanbase without desecrating what they love. Plus what’s empowering about putting one woman in another’s shoes? To have her relive a story already told and not make her own journey? A new Buffy show should be about a new slayer not a ‘Buffy’. I know what you may argue here, ‘What about the film?’ Well, despite its good ideas and intentions the film is trash, the show is not.
Maybe this is what a butthurt fanboy sounds like, and now I understand their pain. But I think this is different. Ocean’s 8 and the new lady Ghostbusters were reboots, new stories, new characters – same key idea. These stories stood by themselves, making links to their predecessors without repudiating the past. One of the things that I love about Buffy is the characters: Willow, Gilles, Dawn, Spike… they and their representations are important to me and I don’t want to see them rewritten. I can however console myself with this; if this is a straight remake, I don’t have to watch it. I have the original show, the enjoyment I get from it and the way it has shaped me won’t change. While a new show with different characters would be a more ideal and respectful revival of the Buffyverse, they can’t take away what has gone before.
Update:I wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago, it has since been announced* the new show will be a reboot and not about remaking Buffy herself. I am personally looking forward to seeing a new chick kicking vampire ass.