Buffy Watch-With-Teen

You may already know that we’ve been watching Buffy/Angel, from the beginning. It took me some persuasion to get my son to start, but after the first episode, he was hooked. Yay, Geek Mom validation!

But it’s thrown up a curious thought.

Both series have dated really well. The special effects are very much of their time, of course, and Isaac’s been vastly amused by Willow’s computer equipment and skills, and by the absence of cellphones – all the technology that he grew up with and takes for granted, and that my generation remembers being without. But the characters and their roles, how they interact and fit together – outcasts and bullies, principals and princesses, social awkwardness and crushes and family tensions – they’re absolutely timeless, and they haven’t changed.

The thing that struck me, though, was his impatience. In any episode, he would keep asking me, ‘why’s that there, why does this happen, that doesn’t make sense’. And I would keep telling him: watch the story. Trust the narrative, relax into it and let it lead you. No writer – be they novel, script, comic – puts down a thread without picking it up again, it’s all part of the weave, and it’s all there for a reason.

Maybe it’s a generational thing – a good narrative is about creating tension, about building questions and answering them, and about finally making all those threads come together at the end. And, as our technology has changed, then so has our expectation – my son’s fifteen and perhaps he’s just so used to instant gratification that he feels adrift when its not there.

Rewatching them, though, has been magical – and seeing them through new eyes was like rediscovering all my favourite characters all over again. Isaac liked Spike (and will be attending MCM in suitable cosplay), and Faith; for me, it’s always been Wesley, as his character arc is just so fabulously extreme. It’s a tough call, though – as they’re all so good. Still!

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