On how she slays me Halloween and every day
As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, the branches of the golden-leafed trees smashing ever so gently against the rain-soaked windows, a happy little tornado brewing in the autumn air, I ponder the coming of your favorite holiday and mine, Halloween. On October 31st, I get to try on another skin (usually not in Leatherface style) and I get to try on another life. It’s the day when we can flaunt all our baser instincts on the outside and everyone agrees to read this as merely part of a traditional running gag. We pretend that a grown man dressed as a robot is simply kitsch, that my Kim Kardashian Klubwear (replete with faux bootyliciousness) is ironic and has nothing to do with a desire to be like her. We pretend, but deep down we know who are and that our disguises may actually speak more truths than the mundane “costumes” we wear to work every day.
Drusilla: Do you love my insides, the parts you can’t see?
Spike: Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet. That’s why I’ve got to study this Slayer. Once I know her I can kill her. And once I kill her you can have your run of Sunnyhell. Get strong again.
Drusilla: Don’t worry. Everything’s switching. Outside to inside.
—Buffy, 1st Halloween episode
Cut to a place where the everyday norm is monstrous and strange while it’s Halloween that tends to feel tired, a little ho-hum. Welcome to Sunnydale, California, a.k.a. Hellmouth, U.S.A. Yes. We’re going there. Buffy territory, ya’ll. Love it or leave it. And you better love it.
Now, during this blessed time of year, I urge you to go back to Buffy and her Scooby gang (or visit with her for the first time, if you dare) because this show really captures the silly/crazy/ugly/funny monstrosity of being human. Starting with cheesier, dorkier episodes, the show grows with its cast and audience answering life’s questions from: “why must I be a teen werewolf in love?” to “how do I come out to my mom as a ‘kinda gay’ witch?” to “what is my greatest gift and how do I share it with the world while protecting mankind from total demonic destruction?”If the first season is too silly for you, jump in at season two. If you’re over high school shenanigans, try the college years. The fashion hilarity alone is worth tracking, people. How high up the torso can the Buffster’s khakis get? How many lame-o terrycloth zipper-necked polos does Xander own? Get in on these epic conversations!
Me (chanting): One of us! One of us!
And let me reiterate, if you love Halloween as much as I do, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a real treat. The first Halloween episode cleverly plays out the psychological desires that linger inside one’s costume of choice by turning each character into the ghastly ghoulie or pretty princess they thought they were merely portraying. Chaotic hilarity ensues. Each Halloween show is awesome, in my humble opinion, but like I mentioned above, in Sunnydale and in the Buffyverse by extension, everyday is pretty Halloweeny, so settle in and let the sugar rush take hold.
Not convinced? Oh, but there are many reasons to (re)watch:
- You get to see a female hero (whoop, whoop!) cope with and learn to own her identity as slayer, savior, leader, daughter, sister and friend.
- Teamwork abounds and each character is loveably flawed, quirky, angsty, hilarious and inevitably at some point, poorly dressed.
- Even the villains and extras are freaking fantastic and they return throughout the series with realistic regularity so that you feel like you’re peeking in on a real universe full of real relationships. There is no forgetting; the past is always part of the present and future of the show, which also makes for classic call-back catch phrases.
- The monster metaphor speaks to the awkward, the outcasted and the queer—a part of all of us and the identity of many who don’t usually have the luxury of seeing their story on TV
- Stemming from my first reason, issues of “girl power” intricately build into the furious glory of ultra feminism in the last season. Legend-… (wait for it)…-dary. Literally. Like, whoa.
So, what say you we make Halloween last a little longer this year? Carry the candy hangover well into Turkeyday (there’s a good episode about that, too) and invite good ole Spike and Drusilla over for a little cuddle and a wee bit of evil—How does that sound?
Insane troll logic? Well, that’s my favorite kind!
[This piece originally ran on October 27, 2010]
Ana Holguin writes PopHeart for The Idler.