Not only did "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" boast a strong and flawed leading female character, but the show's social commentary continues to have an impact on today's culture.
During the fourth season of the long-running series, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) met Tara (Amber Benson) and came out as a lesbian. In a new interview, Benson said she is "honored" to be a role model to many in the LGBT community for her portrayal of Tara on "Buffy."
"I very much feel like Alyson and I really got to knock on the glass ceiling, and say, 'Screw you, glass ceiling. We are going to knock you down,'" Benson told Hypable. "Just in the last 10 years, there has been such a leap forward. And I feel like we were helpful. We weren’t just making television -- we were doing social commentary."
Benson said "Buffy" "opened the door" to today's shows like "Glee" and "Modern Family." "It brought it into the mainstream and said it’s OK to be who you are. It doesn’t matter who you fall in love with," she said. "If you find someone to fall in love with, you are just lucky."
Hannigan feels similarly about Willow and Tara's groundbreaking relationship. "I was so grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful relationship," she said on HuffPost Live in May. "The people that it's touched that I've met ... it's such a gift to have been able to do that."
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" aired from 1997-2003 and 10 years later, its fans and stars still hold it near and dear to their hearts. "I'm incredibly proud of that show -- proud of everybody on it, of what we did ... You can't be prouder of that show. It still holds up in reruns and I'm blessed every day ... I've been pretty lucky," "Buffy" star Sarah Michelle Gellar told The Huffington Post in May.
On paper, a teenage girl and a middle-aged man should be a recipe for creepiness, but thanks to the stuffy charm of Anthony Stewart Head, pretty much every Buffy fan wanted his or her own encyclopedic British mentor. Whether he was cleaning his glasses in a disapproving fashion, lamenting technology or playing the most hilarious drunkard ever, we all know that Buffy would've been nothing without her loyal Watcher.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" had many standout episodes, but there are just a few that are universally beloved and simultaneously gut-wrenching. "The Body," which saw the death of Joyce Summers, Buffy's mother, featured no music. The performances from the cast were raw -- <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGM5QXNvR3E" target="_blank">let's not forget Anya's speech</a> -- and the imagery stayed with viewers. It was an episode that further proved "Buffy" wasn't just a show about a girl fighting monsters.
From "Fire bad, tree pretty" to "If the apocalypse comes, beep me," "Buffy" had wisdom, snark and insults for every occasion. Like most of Joss Whedon's writing, "Buffy's" one-liners never go out of style, even if beepers and scrunchies have. So the next time one of your friends is acting like they have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone, don't forget to say, "Bored now," before you wander off. Image via <a href="http://delicate-flower.tumblr.com/image/43159909154" target="_blank">Delicate Flower on Tumblr</a>.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has had its fair share of creepy moments and monsters, but The Gentlemen take the cake when it comes to scariest. "Hush" featured the residents of Sunnydale losing their ability to speak and for about 30 minutes there was no dialogue in the episode. The Gentlemen were coming for seven hearts and it was up to Buffy and her friends to stop the murdering monsters and get the town's voices back. Joss Whedon was nominated for an Emmy for writing the episode.
Villains We Loved To Hate (And Kinda Love)
While some of "Buffy's" big bads were kind of underwhelming, for every Adam, there was a Drusilla, Glory or Mayor Wilkins, each with an intoxicating mix of sassiness and psychosis. "Buffy" created villains you loved to hate, and then, in the case of Spike and Faith, evolved them back into characters you couldn't help but love.
"Once More With Feeling"
Pulling off a musical episode is no easy task for a TV show. But "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did it. The cast all sang -- albeit some better than others -- and Joss Whedon had a hand in creating all the music. It wasn't just a throwaway episode -- "Once More With Feeling" set things up for the rest of the season: Buffy's struggles with being back to life, Buffy and Spike, Willow's magic abuse and split from Tara, Xander and Anya's problems and Giles' departure. Good luck getting this song out of your head.
Before Bella and Edward, Elena and Stefan/Damon or Sookie and Bill/Eric, there was Buffy and Angel, with a romance that set many teenage hearts aflutter back in the '90s. Not only did the couple have to contend with a <em>major</em> age difference and an aversion to sunlight, they also couldn't hook up without Angel turning into a homicidal monster -- Romeo and Juliet had nothing on these two. David Boreanaz's character was layered enough to merit his own equally compelling spinoff, which ran for five seasons from 1999-2004.
"Normal Again," a late entry into the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" collection of stellar episodes, turned the Buffyverse on its head. What if Buffy wasn't really the Slayer and just some troubled girl? The episode took place in normal Sunnydale and with Buffy Summers in a mental institution. Which was real: the place with monsters and a Hellmouth or the one with a disturbed girl? Well, the episode ended with viewers asking the very question.
Willow And Tara's Relationship
Sure, Willow had a relationship with Oz for a few seasons, but with Tara, the character really came into her own. The two witches brought new life to the series and portrayed a lesbian relationship in a relatively normal and positive light ... until Tara was murdered and Willow turned evil.
The Mutant Enemy Logo
While most production company logos are just another name that everyone ignores after the credits, Joss Whedon's Mutant Enemy was every bit as quirky and memorable as the show that preceded it -- especially when certain episodes, such as "Becoming" and "Once More With Feeling" offered a variation on the usual "grr, argh" catchphrase.