If you were to ask me what my favourite seasons of Buffy are, I would not hesitate to answer season 2 and 3. They always have been, and likely always will be. However, as I’ve grown older, my perspective on the seasons and series as a whole has changed, as I have begun to appreciate the complexities the show was able to capture in regards to the lives of teens and young adults.
I first started watching Buffy in about grade 8, so I was 12 or 13. I became obsessed with the show FAST! I loved the first season — it was very classic Buffy with 90s outfits, a mix of traditional and unique monsters, witty slang and great character development. Now looking back on it, I recognize how cheesy the first season was, but I still love it. I think the awkwardness of the first season perfectly fit the high school setting, and it was certainly something I could relate to!
From the start, my favourite season. The addition of Spike and Drusilla added a lot to the show. The Scooby Gang is working better together, but there is also tension. Buffy and Angel together and then fighting each other, UGH so good. This season had so much added depth compared to season 1, and there was a lot to relate to as I was just entering my teenage years when I watched it. Everything felt so real and raw!
Season 3A lot of similar feelings as season 2. Again: the teenage experience. My opinion on this season, along with season 2, hasn’t really changed (I still love them) but I think that I’ve become more nostalgic about it as years have went on. This is a bit similar to being nostalgic about high school in general: while I certainly wouldn’t want to go back and relive it, I do miss the routine, seeing my friends everyday, and just generally having an easier life, less responsibilities, etc. After this, all the characters have to deal with the messy details of adulthood and the growing pains that come along with it. I mean, Buffy and the gang still had their share of horrible things to deal with as teenagers, but little did we know what was to come in the later seasons, right?! These were like the golden years in comparison, haha.
This is probably one of my least favourite seasons upon first (and second, and third…) watch. We’re horribly out of our comfort zone here. No more Sunnydale High. Giles isn’t a librarian. Buffy and Willow are struggling with college. New love interests are introduced (*gag* Riley). OK, it’s STILL not a favourite season or anything, despite it having some great episodes like Hush. BUT, now that I’ve went through the university experience, I definitely appreciate what Joss and the writers did here. It was SUPPOSED to be awkward and a bit painful, because, frankly, that’s growing up. Now I can understand Buffy’s frustrations with Kathy, her roommate, and the changing friendships within the Scoobies. A lot of the times college and university is portrayed as an AWESOME time in movies and on TV, and so as I was going through my own tough times in uni, I greatly appreciated this more nuanced portrayal.
Again, we have Buffy and co. growing up, but still living at home, and dealing with family issues (uh, hello Dawn, where’d you come from?! LOL). There were definitely some great episodes this season. Humanity, whether it be Buffy sacrificing her life, Spike falling in love with Buffy, or Joyce’s death, seemed to be a major theme. I think this was apt, as we all start to recognize our humanness more and more as we go older: parents and friends pass on, and we start dealing with bigger and bigger issues. Things aren’t black and white anymore. We kind of all feel like Anya, bawling and saying “I don’t understand” about both life and death.
This season is probably the one that my opinion has changed the most about over the years. Upon first watch, I wasn’t a big fan (except for some winners like Once More With Feeling). Not as bad as season 4, but still, it was hard at times. Nothing felt the same. Everyone was dealing with some BIIG adult things. Now looking back I’m like THANK YOUUUUU. Even Slayers had a hard time figuring out jobs, money, and all this adulting crap. This season was a struggle, but it’s pretty accurate with how awkward adulthood is (like, couldn’t we have grown out of this in our teenage years?!), the opportunities for growth, and the fact that everyone makes mistakes. Thinking “what would Buffy do?” and knowing the answer is that she actually DIDN’T know what the heck to do with all these newfound responsibilities and adulthood, is actually oddly comforting.
*tears up* The last season to be televised. I liked this season upon the first airing of it, and I still do when I rewatch it. I think it amazing when you compare the growth of the characters with season 1! How seven years can make a difference!! I liked how not everyone had their lives figured out, but they were starting to come out of the horrible awkward, messy part of trying to figure out how to be an adult. They were becoming more confident and figuring things out. We’re left with hope at the end of the series, which I think we all needed at that point.
I love how even though I’ve seen every episode at LEAST 10 times each, each time I rewatch the show, a season, or even a few episodes, they can mean something new to me as I find new things to relate to. I can’t wait to see how my opinion evolves even further in years to come!
Want another perspective on watching the series as an adult? Hannah posted last year about watching Buffy for the first time as an adult.
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What are your favourite seasons? What was your original opinion on each season, and have any of them changed through the years?