The importance of being a “Buffy” fan

I love it when I find another closet Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan in the most unexpected of places — like a colleague at work, an old high school friend or a cop who pulled you over for speeding and notices your Once More With Feeling soundtrack. (Not that that’s ever happened to me.)

So imagine my delight when reading a Q&A on wowowow.com between 60 Minutes correspondent (and one of the site’s founders) Lesley Stahl and New York Times columnist Gail Collins I learned that Buffy was the latter’s favorite show of all time. Now that’s what I call all the news that’s fit to print.

Lesley Stahl and Gail Collins

But my glee turned glum when I read Lesley’s response to Gail’s admission.

LESLEY: Television. What do you like to watch on TV?
GAIL: My all-time favorite program in my entire life was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
LESLEY: No! No! No, no, no.
GAIL: I’m sorry.
LESLEY: It can’t be.
GAIL: It is.
LESLEY: Yeah, you’re apologizing. I heard that. I’m sorry. That’s extraordinary.
GAIL: I love that program so much; I can’t tell you.
LESLEY: Why?

Boo, Lesley Stahl! Boo! Of course, this kind of incredulous, disdainful response is all too familiar to fellow Buffyverse disciples. How many times have you had someone look at you funny after you’ve revealed your love for Buffy and say, “Buffy? Seriously? Um, yeah, whatever.”

To which, I always say, don’t be fooled by the blonde and the bloodsuckers. The show was a metaphor for what we all go through growing up. Also, man, it just rocked, so don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it (cough, Lesley, cough).

And, of course, that’s exactly what Gail told Lesley, too. Leave it to the Gray Lady’s first-ever appointed female editorial page editor to lay out her argument with in intricate detail:

I would love to say it was only because of the powerful woman thing. Certainly Buffy did save the world every other day. But it was the funniest, best take on adolescence that I ever saw. Basically the conceit of the whole thing was all the things that you actually go through in adolescence were happening, except it was all about monsters. So, you know, when she went to college and she kept insisting that her roommate was a demon, her roommate really was a demon, as it turned out. And every time they tried to have sex, you know, any of them, something horrible happened. Especially the guy character; when he tried to have sex with anybody, when he was in high school, the girl turned out to be a praying mantis or a mummy or something else horrible. And when poor Buffy finally had sex the first time with her vampire lover, it turned out there was a special curse that turned him into this maniac monster forever.

Now that’s what I call a true fan. And she was a public one, too. Gail wrote a piece in the Times about her love for the show after its series finale.

What always made Buffy so great for me, besides the fact that it gave us one of its most adorable lesbian couples in the history of television, was that the show blazed a trail for female heroes. Buffy was a superhero who was also all-too-human. Sadly, too many people couldn’t get past her silly first name to find that out.

All this of course got me thinking, what shows do you love and find yourself defending to the uninitiated and unappreciative masses. Besides Buffy, my list include My So-Called Life and Wonderfalls. How about you: What shows will you defend tooth, nail and wooden stake?

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