Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Pullman
One of my favorite features in Dusted: The Unauthorized Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the running feature “It’s Really About,” in which the authors, Lawrence Miles, Lars Pearson, and Christa Dickson take turns (presumably) demythologizing the series’ supernatural and fantastic elements by identifying the real-life concerns that these elements represent. For example, “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” the show’s kickoff episode (the second half of which is “The Harvest”) is “really about. . . moving to a new town”(9). “The Harvest,” like the rest of the series,” the authors suggest, is “really about. . . the horror of adolescence” (13).
Like many fantasy shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer works on two levels: the symbolic and the literal. The symbolic is the supernatural or the fantastic; the literal is what “it’s really about,” the real-life, real-world counterpart to the supernatural or fantastic element. With this understanding in mind, it’s interesting (and perhaps enlightening) to see what, in the view of Dusted’s authors, Joss Whedon’s series’ episodes are “really about.” I thought I’d share some of their observations, quoting them in a handy, dandy two-column chart, starting with season one of the show. Parenthetical numbers refer to the pages in Dusted from which the quotations are taken.