In 2007, Joss Whedon finally released Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #1. The comics have been a combined effort of Whedon and other writers from the TV series, as well as some new names. Picking up some time after the events of “Chosen”, the comics introduce fans to a much expanded Buffy-verse where there is conflict with the US government, and a Slayer army stationed all over the world.
Admittedly, Season 8 was a rocky ride that felt larger than life. In its Afterword, Whedon writes “We’ve learned what you like, what you don’t… We’ve lost a few fans along the way and, hopefully, gained a few.” He added a promise that the following seasons would strive to return the series to what made it special, “the everyday trials that made Buffy more than a superhero.”
The series is currently in season 11 and delivering on all that it promised. Plus, there are some really fun new concepts and characters, like zompires, and the return of some former Scoobies, like Oz. And for the shippers, we do get to see Buffy and Angel interact again – and we finally get some proper resolution with Spike as they finally develop a mature and loving relationship.
You have to take the bad with the good, so here are the 15 Most WTF Moments, to date.
TV shows that draw on decades old source material are not exactly a new phenomenon, but there is certainly a new trend arising from it: the revitalization of classic, but problematic, material. The fact is, there is an overwhelming number of great stories out there that, by today’s standards, are burdened by their historical baggage — perhaps most notably in their politics of gender and sexuality. A good example is the cover of a 2011 Archie & Friends comic, in which Archie is asked how he tells apart his set of twin girlfriends, and with a big smile he replies: “I don’t even try!!”
As popular culture becomes increasingly progressive, looking back at some of our favorite classics requires a certain amount of whistling passed some pretty unfavorable images of patriarchal and heteronormative values. But we do it because, hey, they’re the classics! And we justify it with extensive contextualization, which is fine. But what’s braver, is questioning those images. And that’s exactly what we are seeing on TV these days with shows like Bates Motel (2013 – 2017) and #Riverdale (2017 – present). These shows are more than simple remakes, reboots, or re-imaginings, they are subversive re-contextualizations; and though they aren’t perfect, they’re rather brilliant.
Game of Thrones is a story of war, honour, and bloodlines. The struggle for the Iron Throne is a boundless bloodbath, spanning endless winters – and whether you count it a prize or a curse, no one is safe. Inspired by the tragically gory stories of past monarchs and empires and glorified using magic, fantasy, and sex; Game of Thrones is meant to do nothing if not thrill. Much of its excitement comes from that simple fact that anything can happen. Vying for the throne, characters thrive on vengeance and power. And each week, the question remains the same: who will get it next? Or, more importantly, who should get it next?
With all of the betrayal and evil-doing in Game of Thrones, the most powerful force of all is karma. Twisted as it may be, we love to watch the tide turn on those we love to hate. Similarly, there’s the odd occasion when a stroke of luck graces one of our heroes or heroines, and that can be just as satisfying. For all its tension, drama, and violence, Game of Thrones rarely misses an opportunity to give characters what they have coming to them. Here are 15 Times Game Of Thrones Characters Got Exactly What They Deserved.
A couple months back I encountered the newly released trailer for Stranger Things, Season 2. Aside from the utter disappointment that came with the realization that the trailer was only a play on audience anticipation and gave no narrative information, I found myself disappointed in me. Why? Because despite ranting and raving about the brilliance of this show, I had to stop and think, ‘what happened last season?’. Blasphemy, I know. But this is the paradox of binge-watching.
For those of you who don’t know, Stranger Things is Netflix’s greatest success. Season 1 was an engaging mix of 80s nostalgia, sci-fi/horror hybridity, and beautiful character development.
Most people are quick to describe it as similar to the best horror movies of the 1980s; and although Stranger Things is a perfect example of this sentiment, the truth is that this is a period of time in which TV has become far more cinematic than it has ever been in the past. We are currently in a new age of storytelling that conflates the escapism of the cinema with the accessibility and interactivity of TV.
The Cinematic TV Experience
We are presently experiencing TV in a way we never have before. Some go as far as to call it the Golden Age of Television, referencing the sheer quantity of quality TV available. Traditionally, TV has been thought of as the cinema’s crass younger sibling; it was originally a space for variety shows and game shows, and eventually moved towards the sitcom. For a long time, TV shows were rigidly structured and predictable in a way that cinema was not. Of course, to be fair, the cinema had had decades to mature by the time the 1950s saw the birth of TV.
Though the introduction of TV (and later the VCR) initially worried the film industry, the fears eventually proved to be unfounded. Stats from the 1980s show that people actually attended cinemas in record numbers. There are different ways to interpret this, but what seems evident is that TV and movies do not cancel each other out. They offer different viewing experiences. Or, at least, they once did.
Back in 2000, historian and theorist Anne Friedberg wrote a critical essay aptly titled, “The End of Cinema: Multimedia and Technological Change.” This essay highlighted the ways in which spectatorship had been altered, first by the advent of the television, then by the advent of the VCR, and finally by the advent of digital media. Astoundingly, her arguments do not feel at all dated when we think of them alongside the advent of content streaming. Rather, it seems she was prophetically telling the origin story of Netflix.
Despite initially offering some problematic portrayals of women – Lori, Andrea, and Carol – The Walking Dead has really stepped up its game in the last few seasons. Lori and Andrea were killed off, so that takes care of that; and Carol transformed from abused housewife to tough-as-nails survivor. More women eventually got added to the main cast, and they keep getting stronger and more well-rounded.
Now, Maggie, Michonne, Rosita, Tara and Sasha make up some of the best female characters on TV today. But it took until Alexandria for us to get a female leader; and soon after, she died and Rick took over. Then we met Dawn, who was in charge at the hospital. She turned out to be two-parts villain, one-part weakling who couldn’t stand up against the wrongs she knew she and her group were committing. Even more recently, we met Jadis. There’s not much yet that can be definitively said about this group, except that they are strangely modelled after a 90s sci-fi flick. Unfortunately, it’s unclear at this point if Jadis is friend or foe.
Suffice it to say, the depiction of female leadership has been questionable. Nonetheless, this week’s episode, “Something They Need” shined a spotlight on two of the season’s most significant female leaders. Natania of Oceanside, and the rising leadership of Maggie, at Hilltop. Both make very interesting case studies for the authority of women in a post-apocalyptic world.
Vampire lore has been an obsession of literature, art, and pop culture for hundreds of years. In the last decade or so, there has been an influx in vampires in young adult fiction, paired with an influx of young adult fiction in popular culture. As a result, the vampire routine started to feel played out, and people even started actively hating on it. Vampires have now been put in a really uncomfortable homogenizing category of teen romance, which has subsequently made it difficult to defend the many vampire stories some of us still hold precious.
Creators of vampire fiction pre the teen-craze have also found themselves looking to defend their work. To great effect, Joss Whedon’s ongoing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series presented a storyline in which the Big Bad was named “Twilight.” Meanwhile, Steven King and Scott Snyder embarked on a new horror comic book series, American Vampire, which cynically stated that the bloody goodness of the vampire had recently been “hijacked by a lot of soft-focus romance.”
The truth is, there isn’t one right way to do vampires. The mythology was popularized by Bram Stoker in his 19th-century Gothic novel, in which the main plot involved Dracula compelling women to fall in love with him. The romance is built into the core. And yet, that dangerous allure elicits a sense of horror that reminds us that the vampire is, first and foremost, a monster. But, whether you like them broody and romantic or straight up bloodthirsty, you have to admit – it’d be great to have one back you up in a fight.
Bates Motel has proved itself to be an impressively unique spin on the concepts of both the prequel and the television adaptation. Like many other film geeks, I for one was absolutely terrified to see what would be done with the iconic Hitchcock classic, Psycho. I especially wondered how they would frame it; how could a 53-year-old film about a woman-hating murderer, with a now outdated Freudian psychosis, be responsibly portrayed on television today? The idea made me so uncomfortable, that I avoided the show until its fourth season had completed.
Once I finally got the nerve to check it out, I realized this was not a simple rehashing, nor was it a thoughtless manipulation of the kill-the-pretty-girl trope that Psycho, for all its brilliance, troublingly brought about. Bates Motel is best described as a love letter to film history, and a tribute to one of its most notable pioneers. Flawlessly updated to appeal to a new audience (some of whom probably haven’t seen or do not recall its source material), Bates Motel never forgets where it comes from, or where it is. Proof of this is not only in the action-packed, plot-twist heavy, narrative – but also in the Hitchcockian cinematography, which even includes many long shots. Hidden within the narrative and cinematography are a number of obvious Psycho homages, but there are also some less obvious tributes. Here are 8 subtle nods to Hitchcock that you might have missed in seasons one through four. Beware of spoilers.
Adaptations of comic books are a dime a dozen these days, what with MCU superheroes dominating the film industry and DC television shows spreading like wild fire. However, as any comic book reader will tell you, the pages of graphic novels have so much more to offer than superpowers. Brian K. Vaughn’s, Y: The Last Man is a perfect example. This post-apocalyptic series features a dystopia in which a mysterious illness has entirely wiped out the Y chromosome, killing every male being in the world – except for two: Yorick, and his monkey sidekick, Ampersand. The award-winning series (praised by Greats including Robert Kirkman and Joss Whedon) ran for 60 issues, and is currently in the works for a television show – and it promises to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Let me explain.
With Buffy the Vampire Slayer currently celebrating its 20 year anniversary, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on some of the reasons why it is widely regarded as one of the best television shows of all time. After a really sad beginning as a failed movie, and then hitting the air as a low-budget, mid-season, replacement, it still went on to become an icon of popular culture. Not to mention, the colossal level of critical acclaim it has achieved. The series launched Joss Whedon (writer/creator) to stardom; and today, most people agree that he’s a genius, or a nerd-God of some sort. So, what is it about a teenage girl fighting vampires that could be so overwhelmingly successful? It’s simple. The show’s got wit, smarts, and heart. Perhaps most importantly, though, it has some of the most well-conceived characters in TV history.
Ever fascinated by deconstructing human nature, the writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (almost obsessively) developed and redeveloped characters so that they would grow and change overtime in a realistic way. Not only did this make for engaging storytelling, it ensured that each re-watch would be a more richer experience than the last. To break this down, let’s take a look at the theme of duality as it pertains to the way in which characters mirror each other, and the way in which doubles and dopplegangers draw attention to the complexity of identity.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! In celebration, here’s a look back on some of the craziest stuff the series had to offer.
During its seven-season run (1997-2004), Buffy the Vampire Slayer was constantly pushing the envelope. Network politics be damned, creator Joss Whedon was not above shaking things up: “Censors. Don’t love ’em.” Seasons one through five originally ran on the WB, during which time there were a lot of restrictions by which to abide. However, a show that worked primarily on the level of metaphor was able to get around a lot of things and have fun doing it. Those first seasons still got to deal with issues related to dating, parents, and abuse. Things became a little touch and go in 2000 when the series began to develop a lesbian relationship. Whedon admits some things had to be cut and kissing was not allowed, but he was dead-set on moving forward with the story-arc anyways. For seasons six and seven the series moved to UPN, where Whedon was essentially given carte-blanche. It comes as no surprise then that these seasons dealt with a even darker subject matter. Not to mention a number of heated sex scenes; even Willow and Tara got to spice things up.
Ultimately, Whedon’s desire not to shy away from controversy made for seven years’ worth of compelling TV. Buffy the Vampire Slayer entertained, enthralled, and taught us a lot about life. Today, network TV is littered with sex, drugs, and violence and viewers gobble it up. But it’s important to reflect on the history of TV censorship and progression and to pay tribute to the predecessors, like Buffy, that set the stage for anything to happen next.