Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Let’s gear our ads to sell our goods, but let’s recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility” — Leo Burnett
This one might be a little more out there, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I can admit that I’m a total nerd. My biggest nerdy weakness? The Cult TV show category on Netflix. Twin Peaks, Doctor Who, Firefly — there’s just something about a slightly campy tv show with a big heart. I’m not going to rank these on the scale, but shows like these are my favorite.
Anyways, I love the cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Remember that one? It was the show on television in the late 90s and early 2000s with the high school girl running around and fighting vampires? Well, it’s actually a widely acclaimed show, and even has college classes about it.
It was also a paradigm shifting show for the role of women in television. Really.
Women in Television
Before Buffy, there had never been a show on TV with a women as the main protagonist. Few shows had even passed the Bechdal Test before (two women talking to each other about things other than men).
Even more impressive, it would’ve been easy for Buffy to be created as a stereotypical, flat character who’s entire identity was being a violent female vampire slayer. Too often, especially during this time, women are written by men who don’t even understand what it truly means to be a girl. Instead, the writers of the show wrote her as a complicated, nuanced high school girl on the verge of adulthood. She was just a normal girl (who happened to fight vampires).
They treated her character with immense humanity and creative delicacy.
The show’s success paved the way for many female driven shows in the future. I would argue that women can now watch TV and see their feelings and experiences portrayed in a relatable way because of Buffy.
Fundamentally changing how women are represented in pop culture? If that’s not a HumanKind act, I don’t know what is.