These days, The CW is best known for its comic book adaptations, but before the rise of ‘Arrow’, ‘The Flash’ etc., the network was known for teen-skewing supernatural dramas like… well, ‘Supernatural’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries’.  And the show that set the pace for those was none other than the Joss Whedon-crafted ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.  The zeitgeist-changing adventure series was one of the few shows that revolved around a female protagonist and what a protagonist she was!  Despite her goofy Valley Girl name, Buffy broke new ground… and skulls as one of the ass-kicking-est female heroes ever seen on television.  Her “Scooby Gang” became the template for close-knit companions dedicated to righting wrongs on various subsequent shows.

Fittingly, Gellar joined the original Scooby Gang, as Daphne Blake in two live action theatrical ‘Scooby Doo’ movies, opposite her future husband Freddie Prinze Jr. who played Freddie Jones.  In addition, she starred in a string of hit movies including ‘Cruel Intentions’, which is in the process of being adapted into a TV series, with Gellar reprising her role as Kathryn Merteuil.

Show creator Whedon went on to create spin-off ‘Angel’ and cult-classics ‘Firefly’/’Serenity’ and ‘Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog’.  Of course that was nothing compared to the heights he later achieved writing a directing the first two ‘Abvengers’ movies for Marvel and creating spin-off TV series ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

On the 2oth anniversary of ‘Buffy’, Gellar penned a heartfelt thank you letter on Instagram:

20 years ago today, I had the greatest privilege to bring Buffy to your tv screens for the first time. It was a long and challenging road to get there. First the movie, then a passed over pilot presentation, and eventually a mid season time slot on a little known network. That first season, we liked to think of ourselves as the little show that could. While we knew the potential, I don’t think any of us saw the lasting impact our show would have. As an actor, you wish for that one role where you can leave your mark and forever be remembered, with Buffy I got so much more. She’s a feminist challenge to gender hierarchy. Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but I was the lucky one. Thank you to Gail Berman for always believing there was a show in that movie. Thank you to Joss Whedon, for trusting me to give life to one of the greatest female characters ever created. Thank you to David, for always being my Angel. Thank you to James for understanding that while Buffy and Spike may have been love/hate, I have nothing but love for you. Alyson, as any woman knows, you are nothing without the love and support of great female friends, so thank you for being that. Michelle, you will always hold a key to my heart. Thank you to all the incredible actors for seven seasons of amazing performances. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible crew that worked tirelessly (and also really tired) to bring this show to life. And lastly, but most importantly thank you to all of you, the fans. We made this show for you, and your unwavering support has kept this show going long past our seven years. You are everything. And always remember…”if the apocalypse comes, beep me” #buffyslays20

A post shared by Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar) on

As for Whedon, he looked back on the groundbreaking series, saying:

Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Female-driven stories are part of TV in a way that they used to be part of movies. Even before it was respectable, a great film actress could make a home in TV and get much more to work with — especially after a certain age. But having a female be the lead of an action series threw some people. That has definitely changed. What women are able to do in front of the camera has improved a great deal. There’s more options, more stories being told, more truth. Behind the camera? It’s not going as well. Equal pay? [Long maniacal laugh] With Buffy, I obviously wanted to make a feminist show, but I wasn’t really interested in talking about politics. I wanted to see something that I felt I needed to see. I felt this girl wasn’t being represented. I wanted see a woman taking charge and men who were comfortable with that. That’s my thing. That’s my kink. At the same time, I was making a horror show.

For a long time, people were like, “Aren’t you so excited there’s shows like Charmedand  The Vampire Diaries?” That’s not … that’s not the legacy. It’s great that there are those shows, but that’s not what we were hoping for. What we were hoping for was a show that made people feel stronger — something that made people understand the idea of female leadership and internalize it as normal. That’s something that people have spoken to me about more than anything in the last few years. At the time, having a female-led action show was not the norm. And having a genre show that was lit like a drama, it’s not a small thing. We really set out to make first science fiction show on television that looked beautiful and not just spooky or campy. I wanted people to take teenagers seriously. There was a certain disregard for what people go through in that time. Speaking to that particular well of pain was important to me. And to make a feminist show that didn’t make people feel like they were being lectured to. There were shows that came before. I don’t want to be a drop of water pretending I’m the whole wave, but where that wave crashes, that’s our beachhead — empowering women and young people, and making everybody matter.”

Were you a fan of ‘Buffy’ the first time around?  Or did you discover it later?  How do you think this show redefined television and even movies?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter