Buffy: Revival or Reboot? Does it Matter?
When the news of a new Buffy the Vampire series dropped during the 2018 San Diego Comic Con by Deadline Hollywood, fans all over the Buffyverse were up in arms, hungry for details. Would it be a sequel? Would it be a tale of another Slayer? Would it be a direct reboot? These questions were vital for die-hard fans of the much-beloved series created by Joss Whedon. The continuation of the story in comic book form leaves plenty of material for a BtVS sequel, and the rich library of stories in the Buffyverse comic book world including Tales of the Slayers, Tales of the Watchers, and Tales of the Vampires provides a wide variety of spin-off possibilities. All of these are canon and shows telling these stories would be a welcome addition to the Buffyverse.
However, since the announcement broke, details have been murky at best, and fans had strong reactions to the possibility that the new series would be a retelling of the original Buffy series with all new actors playing the beloved roles of Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, etc., taking to Twitter to voice their disapproval en masse. The backlash was intense, as is now almost expected when announcements are made to reboot cherished properties (Ghostbusters, anyone?). While fans seemed universally excited about the possibility of new stories being brought to the Buffyverse, almost no one was down with the idea of a direct reboot of the original story. As an added twist, there was talk of recasting the titular role with a woman of color, which while a positive step toward a more inclusive Buffyverse, runs the serious risk of the new lead character being known as “the Black Buffy” instead of making her own mark. However, if it’s a spinoff series with a woman of color playing a new slayer, she could have her own persona and her own stories to tell. According to the comic books that fall under the official Buffy cannon, the slayer lineage was quite racially diverse, and there’s no reason why the Chosen One needs to be white.
Much to the relief of the majority of Buffy fans, the new showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen tweeted out what had all the appearances of reassuring fans that this would NOT be a reboot, but some kind of spinoff.
Cue rejoicing in the Twitterverse. According to a statement made by Fox Television CEO Gary Newman, the show is still in the early stages of development.
"There's actually no script to see," Newman said. "But, we've sat down with the creators and had some conversations about it. It's a very exciting prospect. It's still early, we haven't pitched it to any possible licensees yet, and all of that is still to come." The absence of a script means it’s entirely possible the development team and the executives at Fox pivoted away from the idea of a direct reboot after the intense fan backlash online.
But why is it so important to fans which one it is? Why does it matter if it’s a spinoff or a reboot? If it were a direct reboot, would that really be such a tragedy? Might it not actually be a good thing if it were a direct reboot? If they retold the Buffy story in today’s climate, there are a lot of interesting possibilities. I mean, who hasn’t watched the show and wondered how things would have gone if there were smartphones? Instead of relying on Xander, who would prefer to see Angel/Angelus dead, to pass along key information to Buffy, Willow could have just tweeted at her:
Ok, so maybe not, but you see where I’m going with this. Buffy was 20 years ago. The world has changed. What made Buffy different than all the Slayers before her was the connection she had to the world through the relationships she had with the people she loved. The other Slayers were loners by training and tradition, apart from the world they protected and as a result were actually less powerful and lived shorter lives, which is the entire point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her story is unique within the stories of these unique women throughout history, and maybe it’s a story worth telling more than once. Maybe it’s time a new generation of young women get to meet and grow up with a Buffy that lives in their world, speaks their language, and shows them how to be strong on the journey to adulthood.
It will either be good or it won’t. If it's good, it will be an amazing new addition to the Buffyverse. If it isn't, it will have no impact on the existence of the original series. You can’t “ruin” a show by reimagining it for new generations. It exists. We love it. We will continue to love it and can watch and enjoy it as many times as we want no matter what happens with the new show, whether it be a revival or a reboot.
Whatever it is, we want it to be good, and we want it to be successful, and we want to support it, because success will pave the way for more Buffyverse stories. If we're lucky, we might even get to see our favorite Slayer from the distant future, Fray finally get her chance on screen. I, for one, can't wait to see what Owusu-Breen comes up with. She has been Chosen, and I'm behind her all the way.