To anyone who isn't a fan, it might sound like an exaggeration to suggest that Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a life-changing show. But to those of us who grew up watching (and have rewatched it countless times since), we know this to be an absolute fact. Considering that Buffy celebrated its 20th anniversary recently, this is no small feat: All this time later, fans are still completely wigging out over the show. I think that says everything you need to know. It wasn't just that watching the series gave you a sweet reprieve from the pains of adolescence either; there were some genuine, gigantic ways that Buffy changed your life as a kid. And I think it's time to celebrate them.
Personally, I know for a fact that I may not have made my way out of my teenage years in one piece, if not for this show. It gave me an escape, but it also inspired me to remain strong, fight my corner, and lean on my friends in times of crisis. Buffy was a feminist masterpiece, and it spoke to young women in a way that many other shows aimed at the same group failed to do. That meant a lot when I was a kid. But there are also plenty of other ways that Buffy impacted fans, like me, as they grew up.
1It Showed That Adolescence Could Be Hell
But also reminded you that you were strong enough to fight your way through it and survive.
2It Proved That Being Feminine Doesn't Make You Weak
In fact, you can still be utterly badass in the cutest of prom dresses — and yes, a tiara.
3It Taught You To Be Comfortable With Your Identity
Willow and Tara's relationship in Buffy made many viewers, including this one, feel more confident and comfortable in their sexuality.
4It Maybe, Possibly, Gave You Terrible Taste In Men
If men are what you're into, even the undead kind, then Angel and Spike set some dangerously dreamy precedents that definitely weren't healthy.
5It Encouraged You To Be Brave & Face Your Fears
Listen, Buffy could be downright terrifying when it wanted to be. (Remember the Gentlemen from "Hush"? Exactly.) So it felt like a big deal to be able to fearlessly watch the show as a kid. But also, it was inspiring to watch the Scooby Gang face their own fears every week as they battled evil.
6It Proved That It Was Cool To Be A Dork
While some of her fashion choices, in retrospect, might have been the opposite of cool, Willow's actions were totally the coolest. The fact that she was fiercely smart, a total computer nerd, and basically the high priestess of dorks just made her even more lovable for those of us who could totally relate. (Fashion sense, sadly, included.)
7It Taught You Not To Judge People On First Impressions
Just because they have fangs or horns or a tail, that doesn't mean that they're necessarily evil. OK, guys?
8It Gave You A Killer Vocabulary
Who else tried to make "wiggins" happen at their school, only to fail miserably?
9It Taught You Not To Take Life Too Seriously
Sure, there was a lot horror, angst, and heartbreak in Buffy, but they always took the rough with the smooth. There was plenty of comedy, and even singing and dancing, regardless of how bleak everything might have been.
10It Also Inspired Your Love For Angst-Ridden Alternative Rock
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Album will live in my heart forever.
11It Showed You That Love Doesn't Always Make Sense & It's Hardly Ever Simple
Vampire(s) in love with a slayer. A librarian in love with a cyber-pagan. A mild-mannered nerd in love with a werewolf. It takes all kinds, people.
12It Prepared You For The Actual Horrors Of Real Life
Naturally, demons and vampires are good things to know how to kill should you discover any. But for most of us, the real horrors of Buffy could be found in everyday life: Breakups, bereavements, addiction, and toxic masculinity were all topics that the show dealt with amazingly well.
13It Reminded You That The Boundaries Between Good & Bad Are Sometimes Easily Blurred
From Angel losing his soul and returning to his evil ways, to Spike finding his own path to redemption, and even Willow becoming the surprise big bad of season 6, sometimes the smallest of events could trigger colossal changes in characters.
14It Took Your Childhood Obsession With Witchcraft To The Next Level
"Childhood obsession" — who am I kidding? I'm still trying to spin a damn pencil.
15It Taught You The Power Of A Stinging Comeback
Between Cordelia Chase and Buffy Summers, we've all managed to soak up some serious, quick-witted sass.
16It Made You Rethink How You Felt About Librarians & Books
Wait, is Rupert Giles hot? Am I seriously attracted to a librarian? Hold up a second — are librarians, libraries, and books for that matter, just really sexy? And as you grew up, you realized that the answer was an unequivocal "yes" to every last one of those questions.
17Introduced You To Some Basic, But Inspiring Feminist Ideas
It was probably the best pop-culture introduction to feminism that a young woman could ever hope to stumble upon.
18It Reassured You That Even Slayers Have Bad Days
I mean, sometimes her undead boyfriend would turn evil, or a rival slayer might swap bodies with her and go on a rampage. That's bad. But other times, Buffy's bad days were on our same level — leaking pens, failed exams, and having to accept a job at a fast food restaurant to make ends meet.
See, what did I tell you? Buffy was totally life-changing. Now if you don't mind, I have a Buffy marathon to return to, and I highly suggest that you do the same.