20 years ago today, America learned that a 15-year-old girl could save the world. All it took was a reliable Scooby gang, a whole lot of courage, and a companion by the name of Mr. Pointy.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed television forever, and given the current glut of '90s-era reboot and revival shows, it's only natural that 20th anniversary conversation has largely revolved around what it might take for the series to come back. Producer Gail Berman recently said she'd be on board if they could get Joss Whedon; but a recent interview with the boss-man makes Buffy: The Mom Years sound pretty unlikely.
"I'm sure they'll be rebooting According to Jim soon," Whedon joked to The Hollywood Reporter. "Is the nostalgia bank so goddamn secure that we can just keep withdrawing from it? ... Somebody has to move on. We have to create new things for people to try to reboot."
Whedon added that he pitched a "fan-funded Firefly" to his agent after that series' cancelation, but now realizes that — unlike Buffy Summers herself — sometimes dead things should actually stay dead.
"I see a little bit of what I call monkey's paw in these reboots," Whedon continued. "You bring something back, and even if it's exactly as good as it was, the experience can't be. You've already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time. You have to meet expectations and adjust it for the climate, which is not easily. Luckily most of my actors still look wonderful, but I'm not worried about them being creaky. I'm more worried about me being creaky as a storyteller. You don't want that feeling that you should have left before the encore. I don't rule it out, but I fear that."
Given that David Boreanaz recently said "no, never; that's done, see ya, next" when asked if he'd play Angel again, and that Sarah Michelle Gellar questioned how the series could possibly translate into adulthood, we should probably close the book on a Buffy revival once and for all.
But the good news is, Whedon — who took a serious Eat, Pray, Love break after directing 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron — is back in the mindset of telling Buffy-esque stories.
"I came back to wanting to talk about what I always want to talk about: young women who have power and the burden of having that power," he explained, adding that he's "doing it in a new way with new characters and learning something while I'm doing it."
"What we were hoping for was a show that made people feel stronger — something that made people understand the idea of female leadership and internalize it as normal," Whedon concluded. "That's something that people have spoken to me about more than anything in the last few years. At the time, having a female-led action show was not the norm."
And for what it's worth, if Whedon were to create a new series about young women yielding great power, one of his Buffy actors would almost definitely be on board: Anthony Stewart Head, who penned an essay for Guardian on why Buffy was "a feminist parable for everyone - including me."
"When a 40-year-old man comes up to me 'confessing' to being a fan of the show, as if its a dirty secret, I tell him to stand proud," Head wrote. "Buffy might have been a teenage girl, but the issues in the programme transcended age or gender. It's undoubtedly a feminist story, about the empowerment of women, but Whedon managed to tell that story in a way that was inclusive. He is an incredible, genius writer - so it's hardly a surprise that few, if any, have managed to emulate that feat."
Head, a father to two daughters, added that studio executives still struggle to sell women's stories, and that female protagonists are often "thin on the ground."
But this is what makes Buffy — and Whedon — so damn special, even 20 years later.
"In the final season, Whedon started to build up this young group of 'Slayerettes' around Buffy," Head concluded. "I was confused. 'Where is this going?' ... But after seven years, in the series's final moments when Buffy handed over the mantle to all womenkind, he encapsulated the true message of the programme. And it's that legacy that still resides in all of us, true, lifelong Buffy fans."