Though Joss Whedon is today considered the god of nerds, and his show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is thought as a perfect piece of television, fans like to forget the shakiness of Season 1. It's not just dated, it's carbon dated... between beepers and references to "the net," you feel like you've been transported to some archaic hell dimension. This is why, after re-watching the series for the fourth time (no shame), I'm finally emotionally ready to tear apart the original Buffy pilot.
I am not, mind you, referring to the unaired Buffy pilot, a remarkable piece of work that's sans Alyson Hannigan, which would be a grainy hell to screenshot. I DO encourage you to fly over to YouTube later and watch the hell out of that, as well as the quickly aborted Buffy animated series. But no, I'm referring to the very first formal Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Welcome to the Hellmouth. And what an apt title that is.
Our introduction to Sunnydale, a bizarro Santa Barbara filled with vampires, demons, and giant praying mantises, is shaky. Much like Buffy's first meeting with Giles, you're kind of wigged out 30 seconds in... or laughing hysterically. But it you soldier through it, the two of you eventually develop a life long bond.
So join me as we reflect on this gem from the '90s, the 1990s, in case you forgot.
1. "In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer."
We have to hear this badly overdubbed spiel for a season and a half, and it doesn't even make sense given the later context of the show. There are SEVERAL potential slayers all over the world with the ability to be activated, and once one is killed (which tbh usually doesn't take long) the next one pops up. In short, SEVERAL Slayers are born to a generation, because they have to be back stocked in case of almost inevitable premature death.
But I guess it isn't the kind of thing you'd attach to a supernatural job listing.
2. The series starts strong with the usual destruction and illegal activity in a high school.
Like trespassing. Or murder.
3. Julie Benz, bless her, looks glaringly 24-years-old.
No disrespect because she IS 24 here, but paired with the bangs and Catholic school get-up it's like, "Come on, who are you fooling here?"
4. HER VAMP FACE, THO.
THAT IS SOME JANKY PARTY CITY SHIT RIGHT THERE.
5. And then we're forced to listen to this barely-formed theme song for two seasons, which has the modern auditory appeal of AOL's dial-up tone.
Like, can we just...?
6. Buffy's weird ass dream which includes...
The walking dead...
Someone breaking into a hookah bar...
7. Buffy's considerably darker hair.
I wonder if she had the same high school experience as me, in which she would call herself a blonde and friends would be like, "It's really more like a light brown."
NO IT'S BLONDE.
8. Xander skateboarding.
How very Bart Simpson of him.
9. Principal Gets-Eaten-Within-Like-5-Episodes.
When he died, it left a hole in the series.
10. This meet cute.
If it was a halfway decent rom-com they would've ended up swapping spit.
11. THIS meet cute.
If it was a halfway decent fanfic they would've ended up swapping spit.
12. Cordelia is supposed to be the most popular girl in school.
In THOSE lime green corduroys?
13. Buffy also underestimates the power of the frappucino.
She downplays it to "tasty but trendy," meanwhile every time Starbucks announces a new one the Internet implodes.
14. The most successful actress in the franchise, everyone.
15. When Buffy goes to the library to borrow an Intro to Chem textbook and Giles throws down this bad boy.
One step at a time, buddy.
16. MORE IMPORTANTLY, the GLEE on his face when he unearths the book about the demonic underworld.
"Oh my god, it's you!"
"Guess what we're learning about in school this year!"
"I'm simply quivering with excitement!"
17. The fact that this is even shocking in Sunnydale High.
Their school newspaper has an obituary.
18. Jesse McNally.
Xander and Willow's lifelong friend who is never mentioned again after the first two episodes.
19. The weird Edward Cullen vibes Angel's giving off here.
I know that's an absolutely sacrilegious thing to suggest, but he's stalking her in a dark alley, he's being cryptic and kind of creepy... at least he has the dignity to lose his soul later on and become a soulless, irredeemable murderer.
21. These H&M business casual separates Buffy wore to a club.
22. This crushed velvet blazer.
H&M business separates for vampires, tbh.
23. When Buffy thinks this wave from some rando is meant for her.
You've been in Sunnydale for like six hours, settle down.
24. This inappropriate closeness.
BACK AWAY FROM THE 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL, GILES.
25. When Cordelia insists that she HAS to have hepatitis, the trendiest disease of '97.
"I mean, NOBODY cool has Epstein-Barr anymore."
26. When Cordelia breaks out her cell phone to tell everyone that Buffy attacked her.
27. When the master wakes up, all facially deformed and confused, rising from a pool of blood.
He is all of us on the first day of our period.
28. DARLA'S VAMP FACE, THO.
Really, now with the purple lipstick?
That's epically unfortunate.
29. When Buffy nearly gets bested by the clunky, brainless vamp.
Get it together, girl.
"So, you come here often?"
30. When it was a two part episode.
Unfortunately the series was cancelled immediately after that, leaving behind no lasting cultural impact.
Images: 20th Century Fox/Netflix (37)