A lot’s transpired within the “geek” universe since last I’ve trekked the blogosphere. So much so that opining about something once more brings with it the awkward sensation of returning to Earth after a prolonged five-year mission in search of new life and new civilizations; it’s also like encasing oneself underneath a warm blanket after a long night of drunken foolishness; or shoveling a bag full of Doritos into your face. It feels really good, is what I’m trying to say; because, let’s face it, we all have the need to whine about something, right? It’s built into our collective nerd-DNA. Which brings me to the focus of today’s post: the Buffy “reboot”.
Now, when I initially got the news via an alert from The Hollywood Reporter on my trusty iPhone back in July (Comic-Con weekend, to be exact), I was outraged. If I remember the moment correctly, I believe the verbiage (although not verbatim) was, “Ugh…what the f**k?!” What the hell was the network and Joss Whedon thinking?! What was there to “reboot”?! The show, as it was originally executed between 1997 and 2003, is a brilliant example of serialized television. It’s a master class in storytelling, and I, as a longtime ardently-loyal fan, was not having this transgression be thrust upon my beloved show. Nope, nope, nopity-goddamn-nope!
A bit dramatic, I know, but I tend to have a flair for the “dramatic” when I’m riled up. I was a thespian in high school, you know.
Insert jokes in 3…2…1…
However, as news broke that this was not a reboot, but a revival, and that it was going to be a sequel to the original series, not a retelling, my anger relented, and my anxiety was assuaged a bit. And after last night, both have been assuaged an infinitesimal amount further. The reason being, I attended a writer’s panel of which Monica Owusu-Breen was a part. It was for the podcast The Writers Panel. It was held at the Hayworth Theatre on Wilshire in Los Angeles and included quite the impressive panel of television writers (I highly recommend that you check it out once the 400th episode has been posted). Rounding out the show was Caroline Dries (who’s writing the new Batwoman series on The CW), Alexandra Cunningham (who’s writing the upcoming Dirty John series), LaToya Morgan (writer for The Walking Dead and the upcoming Wool adaptation), Angela Kang (showrunner for The Walking Dead), Christine Boylan (writer on the Netflix Punisher series and for the upcoming Painkiller Jane movie), Gennifer Hutchison (writer for the upcoming Welcome to Night Vale series), and Shernold Edwards (writer for the upcoming Red Line series on CBS). Pretty amazing panel, right? So, when Monica was asked to elaborate on the reason for why the new show would be resonant today, in 2018, she obviously couldn’t answer (foolish mortals should know better than to think she’d divulge that kind of “Top Secret” information at this stage of pre-PRE-production). However, she did have this to say about her love for the original series:
“I was in graduate school when Rodney from Sociology came to me and said, ‘You have to watch this show. I mean, it’s got the most epic love story and it’s doing some important feminist work!’ And I was like, ‘Alright, let me check this out.’ And since then I was a fan. And so, there’s something for me when I made the transition from academia to writing. For me there was something really wonderful about having a show that was doing important work on a social level and telling stories that I felt like I wasn’t seeing in other places. And as an aspiring television writer, that’s what you want. That you want to have to say something about the world.”
I know, I know, it’s not much to go on. All that was really confirmed is that she’s one of us; she’s a fan. And, to be quite honest, it wasn’t just the little bit she shared. It was her personality and humor that kind of won me over. She reminded me of Joss, and the way he conducts himself in interviews: poised and humble, yet confident and funny – dry-humor funny, that is. And now I can kind of see why she was hired for the job – not like she needed any sort of great personality, what with the list of acclaimed shows she’s worked on over the past twenty years: Charmed, Alias, Lost, Fringe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Brothers & Sisters, and Midnight, Texas (which she created).
Look, my stance on the matter is still this: leave the show alone. If you want more Buffy, there are several more seasons to enjoy in comic-book form. As a matter of fact, season twelve just began. You can even enjoy more seasons of Angel, as well as more stories with Faith and Angel together (how’s that for a treat?!). The reason why Joss’s original series still endures is because he used it as a metaphor to subtly tackle ongoing social and human issues, just like Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry had done before him. And just like his predecessors, he tackled them discreetly, weaving them into the fabric of his plots, so as to not punch you in the face with his message. I mean, even Angel’s transformation into Angelus in season two was a brilliant metaphor for guys being heartless pieces of crap.
Additionally, Joss also created a world in which some of these things just are. A place where these “issues” really aren’t issues at all. Things like Tara and Willow’s relationship, for example. There wasn’t any sort of hoopla or pomp and circumstance surrounding it. It happened, and the gang accepted it as something totally normal – just as it should be. End of story. I don’t want the new show to be politicized, because politics change over time. What was once a thing, may not be in a decade or two. The original series is universally loved because it focused on the human condition, and all the pain and suffering and joys that come with the complex experience of “life” – things which are rites of passage for every generation of adolescents making the transition into adulthood. If Monica and her staff of writers use Joss’s foundation as a template for their ideas and storytelling, this new series stands a more than fair chance of being just as loved. I’d bring back Spike though. A little “James Marsters” goes a looooong way, Monica. Just saying….