Everything the ‘Buffy’ reboot needs to do if it wants to slay
If you’ve been following our various rants and grumbles concerning reboots for a while (and if not, where the hell have you been?), you’ll know we haven’t been the least bit excited about a potential Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot. In fact, that’s a glaring understatement – we’re about as excited about the whole newfangled take on the iconic 90s show as Dark Willow (Alyson Hannigan) was when she muttered “bored now” before flaying the skin from Warren’s (Adam Busch) evil nerd body.
Yes, it’s that bad.
But damn, the whole thing is officially going ahead now, which could prove that Los Angeles is definitely sat atop a hellmouth. Though we’re intrigued by the prospect of writer Monica Owusu-Breen penning the adaptation and serving as showrunner on the reboot, along with the vampire slayer being depicted by a woman of color, we’re just not thrilled overall at yet another modern day rehash of an already cherished property. Furthermore, we’re tired of all these gender and race flipping narratives and believe 20th Century Fox may have been better to entrust a whole new mythology to a woman of color rather than giving her the scraps of an existing one.
Regardless, Joss Whedon is on board (which we’re actually ambivalent about) as an executive producer, as are Gail Berman, Joe Early, Fran Kazui, and Kaz Kuzui (who produced the original BTVS movie and the subsequent TV show), who will also serve as exec producers. This show is definitely happening whether we like or not, so at the very least there are a few things the reboot can do to keep fans happy.
Don’t stuff it with unnecessary cameos from former characters
The last thing anyone needs is for Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), or Spike (James Marsters) to suddenly show up for a zany guest appearance like this is Mork and Mindy on Happy Days. If the reboot simply has to happen, it needs to follow a whole new original canon that exists outside the periphery of the established story.
Anything else will be far too distracting (particularly as it’ll bring up the debate of whether the events of the ongoing comic book show should be considered canon) but also a little heartbreaking. An on-screen return to the Buffy-verse would likely be welcomed as a one-off event by most fans, but not as a side piece to a whole new narrative – which is exactly what this new show should be. By all means, the mythology should be continued within the show and some callbacks and connections would be wonderful, but they have to be tastefully done.
Do provide a callback to Nicki Wood
Having first appeared in the S5 episode “Fool for Love” during a flashback sequence in which Spike divulges all the slayers he’s killed in his life, Nicki Wood is a particular fan favorite. Active as a slayer in New York City in the 70s, the character is killed by the charismatic antihero who also steals her leather duster coat as a trophy (which he continues to wear throughout the show). In S7 of the show, the character Robin Wood is further revealed to be Nicki’s son out for revenge against the vamp who murdered his mom.
The character is memorable, but her appearance was frightfully brief and she deserved to be developed much further beyond having her story told by two different men – her killer and her son. Much like how Buffy was guided by Sineya, the first slayer in the S4 episode “Restless”, we’d love to see Nicki helping to guide the new slayer in her own powerful visions.
Fuck it, can we also just get Bianca Lawson back in to play Kendra’s daughter or something?
Since memorably depicting fellow teenage vampire slayer Kendra in the late 90s, Lawson has seemingly not aged a single year. Not one! In fact, she was still playing a high schooler as recently as 2012 when she portrayed Maya St. Germain in Pretty Little Liars. Kendra probably didn’t have a daughter before she was murdered in the show, but for the sake of bringing Lawson back as yet another teenager, let’s just go with the idea that she did for the fun of it all.
Maintain the irreverent wit of the original show
One of the things that’s made Buffy such an enduring part of pop culture is its searing sense of humor. Even when it wasn’t at its best (the most passionate of fans can still admit that there were some truly rough episodes in the show’s time), the show could still be relied upon to serve up the funnies and provide a wry and self-aware deluge of sharp quips, dazzling dialogue, and on-point pop cultural references that have stood the test of time. It would be absolutely criminal to lose the witty heart of the show in favor of a “grittier” tone – so let’s hope they stick with the vibe.
Imbue it with contemporary horror references
Released the same year as Scream premiered in theaters, Buffy was abuzz with a similar sense of self-awareness in which the story revolved around horror characters who were stupendously horror literate. Like Scream, the show also played with tired horror tropes of the time, with the character of Buffy providing a subversion of the “dumb, blonde slasher movie victim” trope and monsters of various kinds utilized as metaphors for the hell of being a teenager. But horror movies have changed a great deal since the 90s and so have the most commonly used tropes.
As many horrors have moved towards socio-political leanings, it’d be incredible for the Buffy reboot to draw from such films while also poking fun at some of the gloriously on-the-nose monster allegories of the original show (as much as we love them). This is an era where many movies have stepped away from literal monsters to concentrate on the various evils of humanity. As such, we’d be interested to see the reboot balancing a battle against “the forces of darkness” the slayer is forced to fight and the everyday evil of modern America that the slayer may choose to fight.
Keep it light and camp, but make it prestige
We want it to be fun, ladies and gentlemen. Give us depth and emotion and politics, but keep it camp and breezy. That said, we only hope the budget for this thing is large enough to afford some decent special effects work and to possibly even cast some prestigious stars. As much as we love the original show, there’s no denying some of the effects looked like they were achieved using a Snapchat filter.