It’s hard to believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is over 20-years old. For seven seasons loyal fans watched as a group of awkward teenagers turned into competent and courageous adults as they battled supernatural forces drawn to the small town of Sunnydale. Beneath it lurked The Hellmouth, a portal that would ensure a gruesome apocalypse. Amidst the catastrophes of school dances, first jobs, and first loves, the vampires, demons, and demi-gods they faced were all representative of the horrors of adolescence. When Buffy ended its seventh and final season, it was a property of Fox and had jumped around from the WB to UPN. Fox has been discussing a reboot for some time and now it seems finally headway is being made to give the beloved franchise a fresh coat of paint.
A reboot is either a great idea or a horrible idea, depending on how the source material is treated. Many fans think the studio executives should leave the original series alone, while others would just be happy seeing any incarnation of Buffy Summers and the Scoobies on regular syndication again. So often reboots are the result of profiteering showrunners rather than to satisfy the fans or appeal to a new generation of them.
15. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: THE ORIGINAL WAS GREAT
What made Buffy the Vampire Slayer different from other series of its time was its quirky elixir of drama, comedy, and supernatural horror. Fans watched as a group of misfit friends went from awkward teenagers to smart, quick-witted, courageous adults against a backdrop of challenges from monsters, demons, and vampires. And though Buffy herself may have represented a stereotypical trope of the blonde-haired heroine in a slasher flick, like the movie on which the series was based, she was a fully realized, complex character that challenged its parameters.
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. By the end of the series, Buffy and the Scooby Gang were young, competent adults who had learned from love, loss, and other themes that made them ready to take on the world. What new telling of that story could possibly be better than what we got?
14. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: MORE CREATIVE ENERGY
With any franchise, sometimes the creative energy dies. The drive that the writers, crew, and creative team had in the first few seasons begins to wane as they fall into a routine. Every plot point and plot hole is explored, and every storyline becomes old hat. Joss Whedon had checked out of Buffy by season five and six, leaving actors and writers scrambling for direction. Audiences either loved or hated those seasons because of the odd creative choices they contained.
The creative energy brought to a reboot can make everyone involved feel like there’s suddenly all sorts of new possibilities and opportunities. Certain directions for characters and their arcs that once felt locked in can suddenly change, and audiences will get excited by the invigoration they sense on the screen.
13. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: A REBOOT COULD NEVER BE A CULT HIT
When Buffy first aired, no one knew it was going to be the smash hit it proved to be. It hopped around to several different networks, from the WB to UPN. In the beginning, creator Joss Whedon, his writers, and the cast didn’t know if it would get renewed after its first season. Even when it did get renewed, every year they held their breath to see if they would get a chance to continue their vision.
The show was a success because there was nothing like it on TV. It remained that way because of word of mouth. It was an inherently niche show that proved it had the legs to survive for seven seasons because of its fiercely loyal following. A reboot will take an already now popular, immortalized show and piggyback it’s success in an inferior way.
12. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: NEW WRITER’S PERSPECTIVE
The original Buffy writers were locked into both Joss Whedon’s vision and also their own methodology for doing the things that they did to Buffy and her whole cast of characters. Several Buffy writers have gone on to work on hit shows like The Wire, Once Upon A Time, and Supernatural. Their talent for fantastical storytelling on Buffy made them perfect for other similar projects.
Talented up and comers may be just the sort of writers that a Buffy reboot needs in order to ensure that it becomes a success and not just another failed attempt at recreating glory. They may have even grown up on the original, and seen a lot of similar television series since, ready and willing to lend their creative agency to the project.
11. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR DEFINED THE ROLE
When Sarah Michelle Gellar first stepped into Buffy Summers’ chunky heeled boots and pleather jacket, she had only been in a handful of films in her career, most of which were low budget horror movies or teen comedies. What Joss Whedon was looking for was an actress that could convey uncertainty but also courage, integrity but also flaws, and ultimately grow as the series continued. To play Buffy, an actress has to be authentic, vulnerable, yet also unimaginably strong.
Other young women were up for the part, including Jennifer Love Hewitt and other popular actresses of the time, but Sarah Michelle Gellar had the exact constellation of attributes Whedon was looking for. She became synonymous with the role, and it remains her most famous role to date.
10. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT NARRATIVE
Buffy Summers and her friends went from awkward teenagers into competent adults trained in everything from witchcraft to occult rituals. They went through growth spurts, first loves, and all the hard stuff that goes along with adolescence. When the series ended, they were ready to go out into the world as mature, relatively stable people, and it seemed like a natural conclusion for the show.
A reboot could offer a different narrative. Buffy and the Scoobies may not be in high school at all. Buffy may not have a group of close friends. She may become a cynical and jaded loner like Jessica Jones. She may even encounter other gifted individuals like herself who aren’t Slayers at all, but superhuman or even superhero. The possibilities are endless in a reboot!
9. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: ADOLESCENCE HAS CHANGED A LOT
At its heart, Buffy was about the horrors of adolescence manifesting in the form of real supernatural threats that a group of teenagers had to overcome. Buffy and the Scoobies juggled typical teenage problems like homework, pimples, bullying, learning to drive, and messy breakups. They also researched rituals to entrap demons in parallel dimensions, dusted vampires, and dealt with world-ending challenges on the apocalyptic scale.
Adolescence has changed a lot in the 20 years since the series aired. For one thing, even though cell phones existed, the cast wasn’t depicted on them all the time. They didn’t even use their computers all that much. In this way, the show was able to have a timeless quality teenagers of any generation can relate to. Could a group of teenagers today be bothered to look up from their phones and save the world?
8. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: SHE WON’T BE RESTRICTED TO SUNNYDALE
The fictional town of Sunnydale, California has become synonymous with Buffy Summers and she with it. It has the same mystique as Santa Clarita (based on real life Santa Cruz) as featured in the vampire cult classic The Lost Boys. The town feels so real to the characters in the series it became real to the fans, and some people can’t imagine Buffy not spending her time there.
Buffy can fight the forces of darkness anywhere, and allowing her to leave Sunnydale in a reboot opens up all sorts of possibilities for her to come in contact with different sorts of allies and threats. No doubt Buffy would behave differently if she dusted vamps in San Francisco or Dallas, and the vibe of the show would change if it wasn’t centered in small town America.
7. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: THE BUFFY CHARACTERS ARE OWNED BY FOX
After bouncing between networks, Buffy finally landed on UPN, while always being a property of the 20th Century Fox Studio. Since the characters and likenesses of the franchise are owned by Fox, executives at Fox will have a lot of creative pull. The direction that a reboot series could take will be directly affected by the network and what it chooses to focus on.
Fox is currently home to Gotham, Family Guy, and Lucifer. It has a lot of popular series, but none that occupy the same niche that Buffy once did. Even more extreme television series that challenged tropes, such as The Following, were eventually cancelled after three seasons because they were too provocative. Buffy would need a network that will let it explore its dark themes in a unique way.
6. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: MAJOR CHARACTERS MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE
Though it wasn’t on the same level as Game of Thrones, major characters died in Buffy about once a season to give the threat against her poignancy. Whether they were killed in a haphazard way or by the main Big Bad of the season, their deaths served to give Buffy’s role purpose and meaning. That being said, a lot of major characters died that were fan favorites.
While many fans have mourned the loss of Buffy cast members, they may get to look forward to them returning in a reboot. Depending on the narrative direction it takes, familiar faces may appear again, albeit slightly changed since they’ll be played by different actors. Some of these characters may also appear younger than we know them, or even much older.
5. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: IT MAY HAVE NONE OF THE ORIGINAL CHARACTERS
The original series had a cast of truly memorable characters. The goofy but lovable Xander, the awkward but intelligent Willow, the witty and charming Spike, and many more, all of whom contributed divergent perspectives and unique storylines. Their trials and tribulations were each different, and they all served to highlight the themes explored by their spunky heroine.
The reboot may choose to keep Buffy but have none of the original characters. If it isn’t set when Buffy is a teenager, or even in Sunnydale, she could have an entirely new Scooby Gang, and entirely new love interests. It remains to be seen whether Buffy’s castmates were as integral to the series narrative as she was. Fans would argue that the show wouldn’t be what it was without them.
4. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: JOSS WHEDON WILL STILL BE ADVISING
Joss Whedon was a writer attached to the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film who went on to develop the show, a show which enamored him to legions of fans. For many, there would be no show without him, and it is his creative genius that ensured it received seven seasons. He has gone on to gain notoriety for creating the Firefly series and of course directing The Avengers and its sequel Age of Ultron.
With Joss Whedon attached as an adviser to the reboot, he can inform new writers and cast members on a subject he is intimately familiar. No one knows Buffy Summers or the rest of her friends and goes like the man who mapped out their entire narrative arc. Having his presence included ensures that Buffy is handled properly and doesn’t diverge too much from its core ethos.
3. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: IT’S INSULTING TO THE ORIGINAL CAST
Making a reboot of Buffy is pretty insulting to the original cast, crew, and team of writers. Unless some of them are involved, it implies that the original wasn’t good enough the way it was, and needs improvement. The only way “reboots” are acceptable is if they pay homage to their original source material, and respect it.
Reboots often occur for two reasons; for money, or because showrunners literally want to introduce a new generation of fans to a franchise or fandom they care a lot about. This has to be carefully done, because reboots often completely discount the opinions of the original fanbase in favor of appeasing a new one, leaving neither satisfied. To solve this problem, have cameos by original cast members, invite some of the old writers back to steward, and be as respectful as possible.
2. WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA: IT WILL HAVE A HUGE BUDGET
The first season of Buffy had a very tiny budget. The same set for one hall in Sunnydale High was redecorated with posters to resemble every other hall and corridor, and the cemetery was constructed in a parking lot outside the sound stage. The tombstones were rearranged every time a character walked past them to make it appear as though they were walking through yards of grass. When the series was renewed for a second season, the budget got gradually better, but not by much until the last few seasons.
With all of the popularity of the original series, showrunners know that they can get studio executives to greenlight a huge budget because audiences will tune in. This means that the supernatural aspects of the show can be more impressively rendered.
1. WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: IT’S MORE OF A REBRANDING
A reboot can often feel like a rebrand if not handled properly. Take the reboot for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All the filmmakers wanted was more edge, grit, and action for a premise involving anthropomorphized turtles, focusing on CGI destruction rather than any cool martial arts. The Mummy reboot became a paint-by-numbers international spy/action thriller vehicle for Tom Cruise instead of a thrilling, Indiana Jones style adventure.
Unsurprisingly, neither franchise ever really took off because fans of the originals couldn’t get into the new look and feel of this rebranding and repackaging of the original material. New fans didn’t get into them because they were just like everything else on the market and people were pretty bored with the same thing over and over again. Stick to the original recipe and don’t repackage Buffy.
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