Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a perfect example of a cultural artifact. It pushed so many boundaries and shattered so many ceilings that its reputation as a genre-resistant and television-redefining masterpiece will probably never be challenged. It has inspired more hours of content and conversation than the original show has episodesincluding my own podcast, Slayerfest98and was a major win for queer representation.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its sterling reputation, Hollywood executives feel that it’s a show worth dusting off and rebooting for profit. INTO has already questioned whether such a reboot is necessary. While Buffy broke ground in 1997, a lot of its politics look quaint in the rearview mirror of our current culture. But, because we live in a world of dollars and cents, a Buffy reboot may happen. If it does, here are a few ways the show can continue to push boundaries, rather than relying on its old tricks.
1. Address its basic gender essentialist premise
Part of Buffy’s lore is summed up in the very first line of Slayer mythology: “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one.” Buffy’s beloved series finale scoffed at its own mythology bySPOILER ALERTturning every potential slayer in the world into an actual slayer.
But what about shattering the rest of the mythology? How does the slayer mythos define “girl”? This might be a question that the show should wrestle within its latest iteration. Trans women, gender nonconforming and non binary folks should all be represented in this new world of slayers.
2. Do better when it comes to race.
Buffy, like too much of media, has a blind spot when it comes to race. Black characters were often either killedRiley’s BFF Forrest and Mayor Wilkins’ henchman Mr. Trickor forgotten entirely, like Giles’ season four play buddy, Olivia. When it wasn’t killing or forgetting its characters of color, the show often cast people of color as magical ne’er-do-wells, like the native princess in Inca Mummy Girl or the Shadow Men who created the black, animalistic First Slayer.
3. Ditch the sex negativity.
One of Buffy’s most memorable arcs happened in Season 2, when a moment of pure happinesssexturned Buffy’s brooding beau Angel into the season’s big bad. And while its central metaphor of “guy changes after sex” still works, some of Buffy’s other messages about sex, which were often a result of pressure from the network or parents’ groups, should be left in the past. Need we forget how often the characters slut shamed Faith or the episode “Where the Wild Things Are,” where sexual urges manifest a poltergeist?
4. Don’t let toxic masculinity go unchecked.
For all of Buffy’s in-your-face feminism, it often allowed its male characters to struggle with toxic masculinity but never have to address it. Yes, it certainly rings true that a teenager/early twentysomething like Xander would be intimidated and feel insecure by the sheer amount of powerful women around him. However, Xander was very seldom given the opportunity to learn and grow. If Anya can learn what it means to be human, surely Xander can do the same about his own masculinity.
5. Bring Tara back.
I mean, this one is just obvious. I don’t care what magical incantation you need to work out to get it done, just do it.