Buffy, gotta slay ’em all

This one is an icon: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Many women loved this show, especially my nana, during its run from 1997 to 2003. I know I have watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer before but I don’t really remember much about it (I was more of an Angel fan). The basic premise of the show is that it follows a girl named Buffy whose lineage has fought evil forces and she must continue on the tradition using her magic powers. During the show she is accompanied by friends and love interests while fighting evil. Sadly this show has the same problems as Saved by the Bell in regards to easy, free availability as it is available on Hulu. After not finding a quality video online I have decided to just use the pilot available on Hulu. For those reading who do not have Hulu there is an unaired version of the pilot available here though there are some differences.
The show starts off similarly to any other teen drama: gossip, cool girls, and dead bodies falling out of lockers. We’re told Buffy had to move schools due to her burning down the gym of her previous school in L.A. so she starts off as a strong character. We also see Xander literally falling for Buffy as he skateboards past her. Other girls in the show take on typical tv tropes: the cool girl Cordelia and the nerd Willow. I mostly used this episode as a jumping point because when originally looking at my topic I saw a lot of scholarly articles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
One such article is Staking Her Claim: Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Transgressive Woman Warrior by Frances H. Early. The reading follows the trend of increasing media about men at war and shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena pushing back against that narrative. The article features a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Josh Whedon in which he says, “If I can make teenage boys comfortable with a girl who takes charge of a situation without their knowing that’s what’s happening it’s better than sitting down and selling them on feminism.” I think this quote really encompasses what I am aiming to research in the course of this project: how media has impacted culture specifically in relationship to women. Here Josh Whedon talks about his aim to make strong women common in American media and culture through the use of his television show. This is why studying television and media is important, especially when looking at older generations, to see if the media has impacted society and if it had the impact that was intended.
When looking at Buffy I think the show did fulfill what Josh Whedon aimed to do by making Buffy a household name and inspiring many young girls while also paving the way for other shows to feature strong female leads and moving away from the male centric television show.

Why can’t we be Friends?

I continue my blogs with what many consider even to this day their favorite show of all time: Friends. This cult classic started in 1994 and ran until 2004 and led to the creation of superstars such as Jennifer Aniston. Over these 10 years Friends targeted many social issues such as condom use while also being a family friendly show. For the sake of this blog post I will try to only look at 90s era Friends episodes though how the television show evolves over time is important.
I will be describing one the most iconic storylines in Friends history: WE WERE ON A BREAK! This line is one of the best known from the film franchise and focuses on another important topic when looking at femininity in the 90s: the different meaning of words between males and females. The book A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication has a section titled A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication discusses this exact problem when looking specifically at American society.
To give context to the scene, Ross and Rachel are having a rough patch in their relationship to which Rachel recommends they “take a break.” Ross takes this to mean they relax and cool off such as going to get frozen yogurt but Rachel replies that she means a break from each other. While Rachel means she wants some space from Ross to think about their relationship while still being committed to each other, Ross takes this to mean they are broken up. During this time Ross sleeps with another woman and then famously exclaims to Rachel who is upset about the news “we were on a break!” This leads to many other characters throughout the show making comments to both Ross and Rachel about the events surrounding their break and taking up different viewpoints.
When looking at this scene I would take Rachel’s side since I believe the couple had not officially broken up while when I asked my boyfriend he was on Ross’ side of the argument. When looking at this in the context of the 1990s I think this had the possibility to shape the lingo of girls and boys who watched the show. Since Friends aired every week those who watched the show often could easily pick up on the words used in the series and then add them to their own vocabulary thus using it in the same meaning as their favorite characters.
This example is something I also plan to look further into during my paper and see how different words have different meanings to males and females since the book I linked above had a lot of relevant information that could be used when looking at 1990s television. I also plan to look at other television shows and see if there are linguistic trends that can be traced between them in regards to femininity and relationships during this time period.