Jon's Reviews > Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Anne Billson
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's review
Aug 21, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011-summer-reads, criticism, filmstudies, mad-women-in-the-attic, humor, horror
Read from August 20 to 21, 2011 , read count: 1

A decent introduction and overview of the series and Buffy studies. If you're just getting into the criticism of Buffy then this might be a nice place to start. I like the brief overview of female heroines on film and TV to help show where Buffy Summers joins the pack. Billson adequately highlights broad themes and how Buffy subverts, mixes, and otherwise plays with multiple genres to create something altogether new. This doesn't mean Buffy is perfect or easy to compartmentalize - it has its faults and moments of weakness.

Where Billson's book falls short for me is in her rather flimsy criticism of some of the "weaker" supporting characters. Billson basically doesn't like Riley, Tara and Dawn. She then verbally abuses them for being not to her taste and considers it criticism. It's not. Calling someone boring or dumb doesn't count as analytical criticism of the kind I expect from a book of this nature. I expect such benign criticism from aintitcoolnews, not from a BFI book.

Billson also spends a little more time summarizing each season than I thought necessary. An introductory text like this is most likely to be read by people who already have watched and know the storyline and just want a light dose of criticism to supplement their own thoughts. Still, her criticism is pretty good. Billson's examination of season one nicely shows how economical and well executed season one is and how it stands on its own quite well. I liked this part because the most general criticism I hear from people discovering the show now is that season one is more something you get through before getting to the real good stuff than a season to be taken seriously. The show remains remarkably loyal to that first season throughout its run and people would be well served by watching that season with as much generosity as they give to the other seasons.

Overall, this is a flawed but nice book. It's a really fast read and has moments of good, perceptive criticism. The supplemental section of websites and other Buffy studies texts is also useful.

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