3 Life Lessons from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. On the surface, it might seem like an action-packed show solely meant for entertainment. But it’s so much more than that. I believe that this show contains valuable lessons for our lives. Here are a few. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1.) Never judge a book by its cover.

Joss Whedon is great at taking stereotypes and upending them. A cheerleader can be a vampire slayer. A vampire can have a soul. Buffy was as far from the flaky cheerleader stereotype as one could get—street-smart, clever, and kick-ass, she was a girl no vampire should want to tangle with.

Or take Cordelia, the head cheerleader slash “mean girl.” She ends up falling for Xander and playing a role in Buffy’s vampire-fighting gang—even if she never quite loses the urge to make snarky comments about everyone else’s wardrobe.

Everyone is complex. People can be strong and vulnerable, smart but naïve, silly but serious—we’re each many, many qualities rolled into one person. And Whedon’s work reminds us of that.

2.) “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” –Buffy

Have truer words ever been spoken? The world can be a scary place. Sometimes, even on the most peaceful of days, violence can break through and upend our lives. Uncertainty lies under every step we take.

But so does beauty. As I type this, I have a view of the deep-pink blush of buds on the maple tree outside my window. Maybe today I’ll spot a deer in the small stretch of woods behind my apartment. We can take pleasure in these simple things—a cup of tea, a deer pausing in mid-step, the pages of a much-loved book.

Yet we also have to challenge ourselves. Because Buffy was right. To live in this world requires bravery. We have to try things that scare us—even if what scares us is something that never makes the news. Maybe we want to go skydiving or bungee jumping—or maybe we simply want to try our hand at a new career or tackle an overwhelming project.

I remember the day that I told my boss I was leaving my job in university publications in order to write full-time. A voice inside told me it was silly to leave a job I liked to pursue writing. But I knew if I didn’t, Old Denise would regret it. I would regret the stories I’d never told, the characters I hadn’t meant, the road I hadn’t taken. So I took the plunge. It was a hard decision, but I’m glad I made it.

Was there ever something in your life that scared you but you knew you had to do it anyway? Have you ever moved toward something that frightened you?

3.) We all fight our own battles—but it helps to have back-up.

Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but that didn’t mean her ragtag group of friends didn’t have something to contribute. Giles supplied the wisdom and book-learning; Willow supplied the tech skills and later, the magic; Xander supplied the much-needed comic relief. We all have a role to play, and none of those roles is meaningless. We might not be fighting vampires or saving the world on a daily basis, but we can all help our friends, our family, and our community.

Are you a Buffy fan? If so, what lessons do you take away from this show? What is your favorite TV show, and what has it taught you about living in this world?

Lastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in…

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing: Wrote 2,165 words in a short story. I’ve put revising on hold for the moment to do some work on this  new short story/novelette, so this goal is slightly revised. Instead of revising two WIPs, I’m going to finish this new one, then dig into revisions on the WIP I finished last round.

2.) Reading to hone my craft: Haven’t read any writing books this week, but I plan to start reading a new book later today. One of four writing books read for this round so far.

3.) Social media: Checked in on Twitter on Tuesday, but took Monday off to spend the day with hubby. Commented on 5 blog posts on Tuesday, none on Monday. On track with my blogging for this week.

What about you? What life lessons have you learned from your favorite TV shows? And how are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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21 thoughts on “3 Life Lessons from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

  1. Congrats on all your productivity, Denise! I really enjoyed your post. I was just telling my boyfriend the other day that I wish I’d watched Buffy. The only episode I ever saw was the musical, and I have to say, HOLY MOTHER OF BRILLIANCE! It was amazing. I watched it several times. I’ve just never gotten around to going back to the beginning of the series. On the list…

    Joss Whedon is a genius.

    Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows. I just love the silliness. And heart. It’s got everything. And when I walk away from an episode I’m generally in a better mood than when I came, and that’s one thing it’s taught me… to lighten the hell up. 😉 Have fun. Be silly. Find the good.

    Andy Dwyer “nails” everything, even when he totally biffs it. That’s brilliant. To have that kind of blind optimism about life and your role in it – priceless. Some might just think he’s an idiot, and in ways, there’s definitely an argument for that thesis, but to me, he and Leslie just embody the qualities I wish I had more of – optimism being number one on the list. 🙂

    • I’ve only seen a few episodes of Parks and Rec, but it seems like a great show. The cast really has wonderful chemistry together. If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s other work, then you’ll love Buffy. It’s epic.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kelly!

    • I took the plunge about two-years ago and watched the entire series on Netflix. It is definitely worth setting aside a few days to binge watch – especially when you get into season 2-3.

  2. Pingback: ASMSG Horror-Thriller Emagazine – 3 Life Lessons from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

  3. Thanks to The Ravings of a Sick Mind for reblogging this; I live my life by the motto “What Would Buffy Do” and it works out every time 😀
    I loves me all things Joss ❤
    Looking forward to reading more here xox

      • I took it a step further. My vampire protagonist in “Ancient Blood” actually references Buffy and Angel several times and uses their example to inspire him. 🙂 I couldn’t resist going meta-meta!

  4. I’m guessing it’s not gonna surprise you even a tiny bit when I say it’s Star Trek: Enterprise!

    Something about this incarnation – when they set out, only the two aliens, T’Pol and Phlox, have much experience of space, and even less of other sentient species. It’s a very brave thing to do, to leave the world and all you’ve known.

    For T’Pol, there is bravery in choosing for herself, even though she was raised in a culture that placed tradition far above personal choice, that she holds on to herself and her own way of being, while also opening up to the humans and Phlox, learning new ways of being.

    And the relationship between T’Pol and the very human, very impulsively human Trip Tucker – so many missteps, misunderstandings, conflict, kindness, passion, cooperation, falling down, picking one another up, sacrificing, joy, sorrow, humor, and fun.

    There’s so much more I could say, but that would be a blog post of my own! I’ll leave you with these few of many lessons learned along the way:

    “Challenge your preconceptions before they challenge you.” – Trip, quoting his Vulcan biology teacher.

    “Try to Keep an open mind.” -Captain Archer to T’Pol, regarding time travel, officially disbelieved by the Vulcan Science Directorate.

    “You need to learn to view situations objectively so that you will know when to interfere, and when not.” -T’Pol to Trip, when he misreads an alien interaction.

    T’Pol, discussing whether to go through with a marriage arranged in childhood :”What I want isn’t relevant.”
    Trip, heatedly: “Yes it is, It’s very relevant.”

    “You’re human. You’re free to choose.” -T’Pol to Captain Archer, when he’s about to make a poor decision based on pride.

    “Just because they smile and eat chicken doesn’t mean they’ve learned to master their emotions.” – T’Pol, explaining her caution over Vulcans who’ve embraced emotion.

    “I can’t save humanity without holding on to what makes me human.” -Captain Archer, explaining why he won’t leave T’Pol behind even when her physiology makes her a serious liability during a vital mission.

    And this – when everything seems to be falling apart, and disaster and sorrow seem to be everywhere – a Movie Night can provide much more than just morale boosting. =D

    Oh, I had fun with this, and I think I may have a blog post, after all! =D

    • Yes, that would make a great blog post! This quote in particular resonated with me: “I can’t save humanity without holding on to what makes me human.” Wow.

      I’ve only seen a few episodes of Star Trek, but your comment makes me want to see more. Thanks!

  5. I was more drawn to his Firefly and Dr. Horrible work for some reason. Sounds like you’re making good progress. Oh, and I love your tagline. I’m still trying to iron mine out.

    • Firefly is great, too. That show has the right blend of heart, action, and comic relief. It’s a shame there weren’t more episodes to enjoy. I haven’t seen Dr. Horrible yet, though.

      Creating a tagline seems so simple–it’s just a few words arranged cleverly, right?–until you actually start thinking about it. It took me a while to find one that I liked. Best of luck in your search!

  6. Hehe, like your lessons from Buffy. 🙂 We have several seasons on DVD and we haven’t watched all of them yet, but we’re slowly working our way through.

    Congrats on your progress! I’m looking forward to the time when I can get back to making new words rather than just editing and translating. 🙂

    • Thanks, Ruth. I’m still trying to learn to enjoy editing. Thinking about it as just a different type of writing helps–focused on the reader experience and the storytelling, not just plotting and getting all the necessary words onto the page. But revising two works at once, back to back, was just too much at the moment. I think I need something fresh and new in between to break things up.

  7. I somehow lost all but season 6 of Buffy through various moves. I totally want to watch it again. I am a huge Whedon fan. Firefly, Buffy and Dr Horrible. In each he does that thing with turning stereotypes on their heads very very well.

  8. Nice work! I am also finishing up a longish short story before diving back into my novel rewrite.

    I’ve been meaning to start watching Buffy. For like, ever! *puts on list*

    This might sound silly, but the show Bones taught me things. Bones is based on Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan novels. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who helps the FBI solve murders.

    What I learned: good things come to those who wait. The big question for 7 seasons was, would Brennan hook up with her FBI partner, Booth? (Who is David Boreanz who played Angel on Buffy? Or was it the spinoff Angel? Or both?) And yeah, they did, and it was amazing.

    Opposites attract. Booth and Brennan are about as opposite as you can possibly get, and yet, their relationship works. Hubby and I are also opposites, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. We balance each other so well.

    And lastly, seize the day. Because you never really know what’s ahead, and you should make the most of every single day.

    The blog post I wrote goes into more detail if you’re interested: http://turtleduckpress.com/toybox/index.php/bloggish-things/283-life-lessons-i-learned-from-bones

    Good luck with your goals.

    • It was David Boreanz who played Angel in both Buffy and the spinoff show. I haven’t seen Bones. Maybe I’ll have to see if I can find it on Netflix or Hulu. We don’t have cable, so that limits the shows I can get into to whatever I can stream, unless I want to buy the seasons on DVD.

      I will have to check out your blog post. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by!

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