This weekend during San Diego Comic-Con, news broke that Buffy The Vampire would return to television. But not as a Sarah Michelle Gellar-led revival picking up where the series or even its subsequent comics left off. Instead, Deadline reports 20th Century Fox is developing a reboot. This news quickly triggered outraged tweets and passionate think pieces across the web. As for the Overlords, we had a lively debate of our own about the rebooting of Joss Whedon’s wildly popular and formative series.
Jodi: Smith: I AM HORRIBLY UPSET ABOUT THE REBOOT. Just because they’ll fuck it up
Kristy Puchko: Fuck it up how?
Jodi:: I don’t even know. I always initially side-eye a reboot though until I see it.
Kristy: I like the idea. We’ve had two Buffys. Both I liked at the time. Both get…less great with age. I’m curious to see what a new version could bring to the story.
Jodi:: True. The first season is EEEESH
Genevieve Burgess: Still haven’t seen the original, have no intention of watching the reboot. As a disinterested observer, I will say that I think the stakes are way higher with fantasy and science fiction, as well as representation of women and young women, than they were in the 90s.
Dustin Rowles: I might actually like this one! (*runs*)
Kristy: Dustin, what about the old one kept you from liking it? To be honest, (the character) Angel bored me and I didn’t get into the show until he was gone and Spike was around more.
Dustin:It didn’t make it to Angel. I bailed after season 2, because everyone kept saying that it got better in season 2, but it didn’t get better in season 2 for me. (I did like the movie, though, but mostly because Luke Perry and Pee Wee Herman were in it, and it had a great Toad the Wet Sprocket song)
Genevieve: There’s been a lot of very good fantasy and sci-fi on TV in the intervening years. A new Buffy will have a nostalgia factor but if it doesn’t have anything else new to say, well, there’s already other shows in that area.
Kayleigh Donaldson: As someone who will watch anything with vampires in it, I must admit Buffy has never done anything for me.
Kristy: I like the idea of a Buffy show without bi-erasure, without a love interest who attempts rape, and without Xander, just for starters. Whedon’s Buffy was great for its time. But so much of it is problematic or hokey now.
Hannah Sole: I’d like an expanded Buffyverse more than a reboot. The set up is right there after how they ended the show. It would be less weighed down by the original. Having said that though, a reboot worked wonders for Battlestar Galactica.
Genevieve: I also think Whedon has worn out his schtick. Dude comes in second to Sorkin for setting off my “People don’t talk like that” irritation. It was fun and novel once upon a time, now it’s just self-indulgent.
Tori Preston: I love both buffy versions, and am fine with a reboot. It’s a great concept if utilized well.
Kristy: I’d like to see a reboot that’s not a carbon copy, but has Scoobies who better reflect teens today. Which means they probably won’t be called Scoobies, right? Do kids know Scooby Doo still?
Kayleigh: The Daria reboot is apparently going to be just as focused on Jodi:e as Daria. I imagine Buffy could go down similar routes in its reboot? Or at least something more rooted in how teens today deal with social issues and that metaphor of high school being hell.
Jodi:: I am now onboard. I mean, with all of the previous comments swaying me.
Kristy: As I understand it, they’ve specifically said Buffy will be black, but have not said if/who has been cast. One argument against this I’ve seen is that giving a black actress a reboot role like this is a “hand me down.” Thoughts?
Kayleigh: Very fair. It’s a similar quandary with the all-female reboots. Like, I’ll take them but there’s something very reductive about going, “What if BLANK but ladies?!”
Tori: I just feel like I’m not qualified to comment on that, you know? As a white woman, I’m excited to see the character given a different perspective, but I’d also be excited for an all-new POC female ass-kicking teenager on-screen
Genevieve:: I understand the arguments, and feel like they’re generally valid even if they might not be specifically valid. It will matter how they adapt the character though. Are they changing the history, the setting, the mythology, etc. to be something that better explores the dynamics of having a black slayer or are they just being like ‘it’s Buffy! But black!’
Kayleigh: Does the Buffy reboot at least have women at the helm?
Kristy: Yes, Monica Owusu-Breen (Charmed, Alias, Agents of SHIELD) will be the showrunner/ writer/ executive producer.
Kayleigh: I’m curious as to how this generation of teens feel about Buffy. Is it a thing for them? Friends is big with teens now because it’s on Netflix.
Kristy: I think there could potentially be an interesting parallel between how the old Buffy had to have two faces to the world (one that saw her as a chipper teen, the other that knew her as the slayer), and how Black women face code-switching in their day to day lives. As a white woman, I obviously don’t know a great deal about that. But I wonder if that’d be addressed in this new concept. Basically, I’m excited about the possibilities, and curious to see who they cast and who fills the writers’ room.
Kayleigh: There’s certainly a way to do it. I think we’re moving beyond remakes for simple nostalgia pandering and looking at the real creative possibilities available. Which seems to piss off a lot of dude-bros who want everything to stay the same.
Genevieve: I was thinking along the lines of most fantasy shows that deal with demons and vampires tend to base a lot of their mythology on the Catholic church and its history and lore. It would be good to see them branch out from that Euro-centric approach to the topic.
Kristy: Right! There are so many stories to tell.
Kayleigh: And more people to tell them.
Steven Lloyd Wilson: Buffy is one of the very short list of absolutely formative shows for me, along with Angel. I rewatched them both from the start last year and still adore them, despite their flaws, or even because of them. I think it’s great they want to tell more stories in that universe. I think it’s great they’re making it more diverse. And I loathe the fact that they’re doing a reboot instead of _telling new fucking stories_. It’s not about thinking it ruins what came before, it’s about rolling my eyes at the way they’re self limiting. Because everything they do will be framed in “oh, when does Spike show up and who is going to play him? New!Angel is not an upgrade. When Buffy dies this time will it trigger a new slayer or not?” And the inevitable callbacks, “if the apocalypse comes, Facetime me.”
To Hannah’s Battlestar point, I’d mainly just argue that the difference there is that the original was really not all that well regarded relatively. It had fans, but always as sort of a hokie cheap Star Wars knock off that only ran a couple of seasons. And destroyed its own mythology with Galactica 1980 anyway. I’d say a better comparison would be Star Trek if instead of Next Generation they had rebooted it with a new Kirk in 1987 instead of telling new stories.
Hannah:Agreed- new BSG was a massive upgrade. To add more Trekky points, the new Trek movies rebooted in a way that acknowledged OG Trek but built in a reason for the reboot with the alt timeline thing. The end of Buffy just set up so much opportunity for new stories that it seems a bit weird to start over when they could take new slayers and create new stories with them.
TK Burton: Thoughts on Buffy: When it came out, I adored it and still consider it to be a formative TV show for me. BUT. The more I watch it as I got older, the less it appealed to me. It told great stories, but often at great disservice to its characters, who were routinely assassinated by the writing. By the end of the show, so few of them were still likable. So I’m not opposed to the concept of a reboot, because I think a lot was left on the table and a lot could be improved upon.
THAT SAID, I also think they’d be better served by telling another story within the Slayer mythos. The next generation of slayer or slayers, for that matter.
Buffy too often relied on the pain of its characters as character development, and their routine betrayal of each other is a testament to that. Everyone cheated, everyone gave in to darkness, everyone fell from grace. Every. Single. Character.
Hannah:The OG voiceover - “in every generation”- is replaced with Buffy’s one from the last ep- “can stand up, will stand up”
TK: That’s a lovely idea!
Steven: “We have 12 seasons of beloved world building and license to make a new show. What should we do?” “Throw it away?”
TK, that’s all fair criticism, I think. It gets worse as it goes for sure. On rewatching it, seasons 1 through 5 of Buffy still worked for me, but I shut it off three episodes into season six. It’s amazing how it just fell off a cliff with exactly what you’re saying. At the time slow watching it on network it felt more like a slow decline, but in streaming time it’s just a different much worse show with none of the characters acting like they’ve acted before.
TK: Exactly. Whedon’s default was “when we run out of ideas, make a good guy act like an asshole”I still SEETHE when i think about Tara. And Anya.
Hannah:Was just typing about Tara! Whedon fridged her just to break Willow.
TK: Even Joyce. That was one of the greatest episodes in the history of television. And I fucking HATE that it happened. It became such a deeply cynical study of human nature, a complete 180 from the earlier seasons.
Tori: I think the thing is that a really good reboot always takes on a life of its own, so it’ll be in the execution. Can nuBuffy create a place in our minds that is separate from the versions before it? We won’t know until they try. But I think the possibility is there.
Kristy:: I used to get really worked up about remakes and reboots, as if they’re very existence would “ruin” the thing I loved before. But anymore, I am intrigued to excited. It’s not like a new Buffy means we must all set our old DVDs and fan art on fire. It means we get a new version, a new opportunity to see the story grow and change, a new chance for excitement and surprises. Or maybe it’ll suck. But then the old Buffy still exists.
Weigh in with your thoughts on the rebooted Buffy The Vampire Slayer news below.