Friday, March 17, 2017

Podcast Friday: Buffering the Vampire Slayer

Buffering the Vampire Slayer is a different podcast than usual. Musician Jenny Owen Youngs and her wife Kristin Noeline Russo discuss every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in order. They are big fans of the show that choose to talk about what's great about the show and about it's very many flaws.  For a show from the late 90's, it was progressive for its time with its well drawn characters, kickass women, turning tropes around, and commentary on social situations through a supernatural lens. However, it still suffered from dated effects, out of character actions, and racial insensitivities just to name a few. I've watched the show almost 3 times through, dating back to the original run of the show, and they have pointed out quite a few things that I didn't notice. Xander in particular has a pretty rough start in season 1. A lot of his insensitive and misogynistic actions are glossed over in my memory because of his character development later in the show. It is jarring to hear them talk about him slut shaming Buffy while trying to oggle her undressing. Ick. It's nice to see the show celebrated, but also called out for its flaws.

Jenny and Kristin have a few different things they do every episode. First, they do a one sentence recap of the episode to jog the memory and then go deeper into the events and characters. They give a couple the Sexual Tension Award who usually isn't a canon or a conventional couple like Ethan Rayne and Giles (so much sexual tension) in any given scene with them together or Cordelia and Willow hiding in a closet during School Hard. One of them points out the effects of the PATRIARCHY in each episode that ranges from rich men considering women disposable as sacrifices for income in Reptile Boy or Xander and Blayne's masculinity contest in Teacher's Pet. Their friend Kate Leth (pictured below with Cordette and Slayerette pins in her collar) occasionally drops in with her informative 90's fashion updates, the best of which talked about Giles' different kinds of tweed. 

My favorite part of the show is the music. Characters sometimes earn jingles, the first being Cordelia's that celebrated Jenny and Kristin's love for her. They truly changed my mind about season 1 and 2 Cordelia because of how strong, honest, and unflappable she was despite all her mean girl bullying. Drusilla has her own spooky jingle and Spike will probably earn his soon. Kristin recently mentioned that Spike and Dru love should have its own since it's the strongest relationship on the show at this point. At the end of every episode is an original song recapping the episode usually from Buffy's perspective. These songs are so amazing because they are written by Jenny and Kristin weekly with good production value, thoughtful lyrics, and varied styles. I'm considering becoming a Patreon supporter just to get the songs before they are released as a complete season CD. (They are also available to listen to on Spotify and for purchase practially any site music is sold.) I had coincidentally seen Jenny perform when she opened for Amanda Palmer a few years ago, so I was already a fan of her music. However, the quality and variety of songs written in such a short amount of time made me an even bigger fan.

Occasionally, Jenny and Kristin have episodes that don't follow an episode, but answer fan questions or interview actors from the show. The fans are very knowledgeable and offer their own view of things, answer questions, send gifts, and are all around pretty awesome. My favorite interview episode was with Armin Shimerman, famous for playing the odious Principal Snyder. I loved his frank account of how he thought himself above Sarah Michelle Gellar because of her background as a soap opera actress. He cam to respect and befriend her over time, but his initial feeling about her helped solidify his interpretation of Principal Snyder that had him coming back long after he was expected to. The best non-recap episode is the one titled Happy 20th Anniversary, Buffy! where they talk about how they came to the show and what it means to them even after so many years. Jenny and Kristin released their song Demons to Fight about the shows meaning. It's available for free forever.

I love this show that challenges and celebrates Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They are only currently on Season 2, Episode 9 so there's still plenty of time to start another rewatch of the show to go along with the podcast. I hope Jenny and Kristin will cover the entire series because this show brings me joy and an awesome song each and every week. 

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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