When I was a kid, the two people I wanted to grow up to be most were fictional: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Xena the Warrior Princess. While this might've said more about my parents' leniency towards the TV I watched than anything else (really, guys — I was nine!), having those two smart, strong, butt-kicking women as my childhood role models was a huge deal. Buffy, especially, had a major impact on me; from her, and the show, I learned at an early age what feminism meant, how friendships stayed solid, and the importance of a really good crimping iron.
But here's the thing about Buffy: for a great series — and oh, was Buffy great — it sure had a lot of flaws. I'm not just talking about the big stuff all fans know about (the awful idea to make a robot-guy a Big Bad, those cringeworthy "the Internet is evil!" rants, nearly every episode of Season 4 except for "Hush") but the smaller things, too. They may have been easy to miss when you saw the show back in the '90s, but trust me, if you give it a re-watch, you'll definitely see what I mean. For instance:
Dawn Was 14, But She Acted Way Younger
I think the Buffy-watching world can agree that Dawn was, by far, the worst character on the show. She was rude and annoying, always popping up when she wasn't wanted and making the already-difficult lives of the Scooby Gang even harder. This might have been excusable if she was 10, even 12, but girl was 14 when she first appeared. She was a teenager in high school, and still she felt the need to whine about Buffy or incessantly badger Joyce (R.I.P.) every chance she got.
The series' writers had originally planned for Dawn to be several years younger than 14, but after casting Michelle Trachtenberg, they raised the age. This might explain why Dawn was such a pre-teen mess in the first few episodes of season 5, but afterwards, when she'd settled in and the writers had the chance to clear things up? Nope. Dawn stayed horribly immature, and even if she wasn't the Key, it was no wonder Buffy and Joyce never felt comfortable leaving her alone unless there was a babysitter 10 feet away.
No One Had Siblings
And speaking of Dawn — before her arrival in season 5, no member of the show's main trio, or even their friends, had siblings. Buffy, I get, but Xander, Willow, Cordelia and Oz? That seems like a bit of a stretch. Of course, Buffy was far from the only TV show to have the all-the-characters-are-only-children-because-it-makes-the-narrative-easier problem, but that didn't make it any less irritating. Couldn't Joss Whedon have given Xander a whiny little brother or something to make it a tad more realistic?
Everyone Was White
Like, everyone. Here are the significant non-white characters that appeared in Buffy: Kendra, a Jamaican slayer with the world's worst accent; Principal Wood; Mr. Trick, a vampire who, ironically, commented on the lack of black people in Sunnydale when he first arrived. And that's it. For seven seasons.
No One Questioned Why A Middle-Aged Librarian Hung Out With A Group of Teenagers For Several Years
Once Joyce knew that Giles was Buffy's watcher, her lack of concern for their time spent together was understandable. But all those years beforehand, when she simply thought Giles was a strange, single school librarian who was often at her house and spent an inordinate amount of time with her teenage daughter? There was no excuse for that. Joyce's naivety was actually kind of disturbing, but, considering how little attention she paid to Buffy's slayer activities or social life, sadly not surprising.
Riley Stayed on the Show For Far Too Long
Before I re-watched the show, my memory of Buffy's boyfriends was basically like, Angel for a bunch of years, Riley for a quick sec, Spike for a bunch of years. To my surprise, though, Riley stayed on Buffy for awhile, taking up space for all of Season 4 and about half of Season 5. I guess I must've blocked out that time, because those Riley-centric episodes were truly hard to watch. Yeah, he was nice and hot and good for Buffy etc. etc. etc., but he was boring. His character arc just went back-and-forth between pining for Buffy/being in the Initiative/being sad about Buffy and the Initiative, over and over again until your head wanted to explode. Riley was the worst, and unfortunately, he lasted for a long, long time.
The Bronze Let Anyone In Over the Age of Five
And apparently held massive ragers for high schoolers every night of the week, with free-flowing alcohol and not a single bouncer at the door. Sunnydale parents might've freaked out over vampires and demons, but when it came to their teens going clubbing after finishing their homework, there wasn't a single complaint.
Buffy Never Got Paid for Being a Slayer
Being a slayer is a dangerous, demanding job that requires enormous time and effort. As Buffy learned throughout the show, it was incredibly hard to balance a social life, school and/or work with her "real" job fighting bad guys. You would think that for that kind of sacrifice, the Watchers' Council would've thrown (a lot of) money her way, but no. Apparently, saving the world over and over didn't warrant more than a "thank you," and rarely even that. Poor Buffy had to take a humiliating job at the Doublemeat Palace (home of the Doublemeat Special!) just to pay the bills.
Nothing Really Changed When Dawn Appeared
I don't mean in the now-Buffy-must-protect-the-Key sense. I'm talking about our hero's life, as well as the lives of Joyce, Willow, Xander, etc. — wouldn't having a little sister for the past 14 years have affected things in a major way? Perhaps a 13-year-old Dawn would've tagged along on an adventure and gotten someone hurt, for instance, or maybe her sixth-grade self had an issue at school that required Buffy to forgo slayer duties on the one night the Master was planning to rise. Hell, maybe Joyce's haircut would've different, just because Dawn showed her a photo once that she thought looked good. Who knows! The point is that having 14 years of changed memories would certainly have done something to alter the Scooby Gang's lives, but according to Buffy, the only thing different was the show's opening credits.
"Once More With Feeling" Just Doesn't Make Sense
Look, I love "Once More With Feeling" as much as anyone, if not even more. I have all the songs on my iTunes. I know which cast members did/did not want to sing and why. I actually understand the reference to "his penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe." But as amazing as the episode is, it just doesn't make sense. The reason? Xander was the one who summoned the demon, and so he knew, all along, why they were singing and what they'd need to research in order to make it stop.
Yet he didn't say a word, choosing to let people literally burn up instead of fessing up to his mistake, which was very unlike him. Sure, Xander was constantly fooling around, but would he really have hid potentially life-saving knowledge from the group just because he was embarrassed? I highly doubt it — and for that reason, "Once More With Feeling" has a lot more issues than just the Scooby Gang's synchronized dancing.