My Personal Relationship with Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered twenty years ago this week, on March 10, 1997. Where were you back then?

In March 1997, I was in graduate school at the University of Texas. And I was miserable. I didn't like Texas, but UT had offered me the best deal and it was one of the best schools in my field (information science). I was trying to finish quickly by taking too many classes, so I was constantly doing projects and writing many, many papers, and I was working part time on top of it.

When "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "The Harvest" aired together on March 10, 1997, I watched it. But honestly, I wasn't impressed, I thought it was goofy and the high school setting made it feel way too young for me, and I didn't watch every episode in season one. Fortunately, I gave it another try when season two premiered. By then I had gotten my masters and had taken a twelve-month contract job in Mississippi to hold me until I found a more permanent job. (I didn't care much for Mississippi either, but I liked the Gulf Coast.)

When exactly did I fall in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer? During the second half of season two, of course. I can remember being stunned by what happened in "Surprise" and "Innocence," just blown away by how shockingly twisted and personal the story had become. When season two ended, I was completely obsessed.

When season three was airing, I taped every episode (remember VHS?), rewatched and practically memorized the dialogue, talked about Buffy with my friends at work (by this point, I had a more permanent job in Virginia). And I was compelled to write about every episode. I sent my weekly Buffy ramblings to my online friends. Which is why my reviews are signed with my name at the bottom — because they started out as emails to friends.

If season three hadn't been so amazing, that might have been the end of it. But season three was amazing. When season four began and Angel was spun-off, I started reviewing Angel, too. Eventually, I started looking for an online home for my reviews, and found one. Okay, I found three (they're all gone now). Eventually, I started reviewing a couple of other shows, too.

In late 2000, when season five was airing, I applied for the professional job of my dreams in Los Angeles and to my complete and utter surprise, I got it. Honestly, I didn't move to L.A. because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but proximity to the actual place it was filmed made the show an even bigger part of my life.

It started with Sunnydale High School. When I was interviewing for the L.A. job, I stayed with an old friend and, knowing my obsession with Buffy, she took me to see Torrance High School. After I moved, my new apartment in L.A. was very close to Sony Pictures Plaza (Wolfram & Hart) and I passed it all the time. This inspired me to hunt down and visit a few other Buffy/Angel locations. My favorite, after the high school, turned out to be the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, which is where they shot when they needed a cemetery bigger than the one that they created in their parking lot.

The best thing about Los Angeles, other than the weather, is that a lot of movie and TV people can attend local events without having to fly. From 2002 to 2004, I attended a lot of Buffy-related celebrity thingies: four autograph events, a science fiction convention featuring David Boreanaz, the last Wolfram & Hart revue, and a political fundraiser thrown by Joss Whedon that featured a lot of his favorite actors. That last one was my favorite experience as a fan. It was amazing.

I also went to a small club in Santa Monica to see James Marsters sing. In fact, I went twice, in November 2001 and February 2002. Considering that both times there was a huge crowd and no seating so that we all had to stand huddled together and that the second time, we waited for hours for Marsters to show up, which was embarrassing because I had brought along a non-Buffy-fan friend, it was still worth it.

The final season (seven) might not have been a great one for the show, but it was for me. Since I lived relatively close to the warehouses in Santa Monica where Buffy was filmed, I stumbled into the opportunity to watch them film scenes on location, in the street. This is not as much fun as it sounds since it mostly involved sitting on a cold curb for hours, but how many people can say that they actually saw their favorite show being filmed? What with the events and the filming, I saw nearly every member of the cast of both Buffy and Angel, and talked with most of them. I also met several of the writers. And Joss Whedon, twice.


Back in the late nineties, I was an aspiring writer and had produced two and a half not-very-good novels. When I started writing about Buffy, my reviews weren't really reviews; they were rambling, brief, and somewhat unfocused. But as the show progressed, I must have gotten better at expressing myself, and I even acquired something of a following.

In 2004, I finally started my own web site and posted my already existing reviews of Buffy, Angel, Alias, The Dead Zone and Lost. Initially called BillieDoux.com for obvious reasons, my site later went through a couple of transformations as other writers eventually found me and joined up to review other shows, and eventually became Doux Reviews. We now have over 7,000 reviews and over 40,000 comments, and the site gets bigger every day. Reviewing television shows has become a huge part of my life.

So what does Buffy the Vampire Slayer mean to me?

It was and is my favorite show ever, even supplanting Star Trek. Buffy was so fascinating, unusual and complicated that it got me started writing episode reviews, which I am still doing eighteen years later. Buffy is the reason Doux Reviews is here at all. Honestly, I can't believe it's been twenty years since I saw "Welcome to the Hellmouth" back in Texas. I don't know what my life would have been like if I'd never seen it, but it would certainly have been different.

Happy birthday, Buffy!

Love,
Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

17 comments:

Diogo said...

Truly a show for the ages. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/10/the-rise-of-buffy-studies/407020/

Patryk said...

Buffy is a gift that keeps on giving. You know what other site exists beacause of BtVS? TV Tropes. :) There was something in the show that invited people to analyze it over and over.

Buffy also solidified me as a TV fan, but the seeds were already there thanks to the genius tv-novel called Babylon 5.

Marianna said...

This is a great article about the significance of Buffy and how it's not just a high school show or a vampire show.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/arts/television/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-20-year-anniversary.html?_r=0

Michael Keating said...

Thanks for this Billie. I've been reading your reviews for nearly 15 years knowing that you have the same relationship with Buffy as I... It was lovely to read this back story. I never knew you had lived so close and visited the set! Amazing. Keep writing and I'll keep reading. Happy anniversary!

Katerina said...

"When season three was airing, I taped every episode (remember VHS?)"

And when my local station stopped airing Buffy, Billie very kindly mailed me those VHS tapes when she was done with them, stemming my desperation at not being able to watch it live. (This was long before Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services came to the rescue in such situations.) Talk about a great friend!! :)

Billie Doux said...

Katerina, my friend, it was a pleasure. :)

Mallena said...

I was halfway through my third pregnancy when Buffy premiered. I had seen the movie version and liked it, and have always enjoyed supernatural shows. I watched the show live and stuck with it for it's whole run. I bought the seasons on DVD when they came out, even though they were really expensive at first. I'm not sure how many times I have done a rewatch, I've lost count. I love Buffy for it's heart, humor, and storytelling. All the cast does a great job, even Nick as Xander, even though he's not my favorite.

Anonymous said...

If you have seen it...Its in your top 5 shows of all time.

The only other site thats coverage of Buffy matches this site is this.....Incredible!

http://www.criticallytouched.com/buffy/

migmit said...

I originally watched it when it was aired on Russian TV. Dubbed, of course, poorly (not their fault this time, it's nearly impossible no translate all that language properly). I remember that "Immolation-o-gram" was dubbed as "that burning lady". SAD! But the saddest thing of all was that they only aired two seasons at the time. And I honestly thought that the show ended with Buffy leaving Sunnydale (please don't tell me it's a spoiler!)

Much, much later I found out there are more seasons. And I've got DVDs — not official ones, with each season fit into one disc. Quality was poor, but who cares? And the person who gave me those discs also set a condition for me — I was supposed to give copies to some other tormented soul. Which I did.

Strangely, AtS never really worked for me, and I've never got past third season.

Miguel said...

Billie I remember reading your reviews of Alias on TV Tome (was that the name of the website? hard to remember now) and then excited when you started your own website and you only had those four shows up in the top banners. Wow I can't believe that was 2004, and I have been reading your reviews for so long. They have played a big part of my life. Thank you for writing.

Victoria Grossack said...

I moved to Switzerland in 1997 and so did not discover Buffy until a few years ago, and only after I discovered and fell in love with Firefly. I really enjoyed Buffy, but it wasn't as important to me as Star Trek DS9, which I know even better in German than I do in English (they did a great job with the dubbing) and have been working on going through in French. Still, I acknowledge that Buffy is great - good storytelling, arcs, and constant pushing the envelope - and moreover, Buffy seems to inspire people. But why is that exactly? Because Buffy keeps at it, no matter how impossible? Because she's little and so defies the conventions? Anyway, I think it's so fitting that you posted this piece on March 8, 2017's day to honor women.

Selena said...

Billie, like so many others here I have been reading your reviews since the early days of TV Tome. When Buffy aired in New Zealand I would go and read your reviews immediately afterwards to see what your thoughts on the episode were. Sometimes you would catch something I missed, sometimes you interpreted things differently than I did, all of which added to my enjoyment of Buffy and your reviews. In fact, Buffy and Billie have almost become synonymous in my mind.

When you moved to your own site I followed, because I didn't want to miss out on your reviews. When you recommend something or start reviewing a new series I check it out too, if I can, because it turns out if Billie likes something I probably will too. That's actually expanded to everyone who writes for this site.

So, thanks Buffy for not only being a wonderful TV show, but also for bringing me Doux Reviews!

Denise Robinson said...

I don't remember how I first found your reviews. It was back in the early days of Buffy, when I was desperate to find someone as obsessed with it as I was. I started reading your Buffy and then Angel reviews. Then moved on to Smallville, Supernatural, Veronica Mars, and more. Your site has gotten me into many shows that I may not have given a chance, but because you reviewed them I figured they must be worthwhile. All these years later, it's just become part of my TV watching routine. As soon as I finish an episode of anything, I come to this site to read the review. Strangely enough, this is my first time ever commenting. Thank you for making my life as a TV nerd that much more enjoyable!

Billie Doux said...

Thank you all so much for all of these lovely comments.

I should probably confirm that the three sites on which I initially posted Buffy reviews were indeed TV Tome (which became TV.com), theslayer.net, and @N-Zone. It's sad that all three are gone now. It was the end of TV Tome that really pushed me into starting my own site.

Sera said...

Your great reviews of both Buffy AND la femme Nikita cemented my love for your work here.
Now when I look for a new show, I usually start here and see what you reviewed and liked. I found so many great shows through the reviews here, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the hard you and all the other writers do here :)

Mallena said...

Sera, I have watched many shows that I never would have even thought about watching until they were recommended and reviewed on this site. Happy Valley, Nikita, and Rectify to name a few. I'm also rewatching Alias for the umpteenth time just so I can follow along with the reviews that I haven't read yet. Getting to review my favorite shows on this site is also icing on a very tasty cake.

Lamounier said...

Billie, what a wonderful experience you had as a fan! Getting to visit the set, meet cast and crew. That's awesome.

I'm also glad for the existence of this site. I discovered it through an Alias site that had your reviews there. I knew you had watched Buffy because you mentioned it a couple of times, but it took me a while to notice there was a link to your own website. When I discovered it, I was like "oh, my god, she reviewed Buffy too!". Hee. I hadn't really watched Buffy since its ending, so stumbling on your reviews rejuvenated my love for the series. Thank you for that.