Slaying Fate

Buffy pursues her destiny, slaying vampires while never breaking a nail


Buffy the Vampire Slayer, protagonist of the eponymous TV series, is destined by birth to stand alone against the forces of evil–vampires, demons, and such–while juggling such high school horrors as cheerleading tryouts, career day, and a really nasty principal. While coolly dispatching the undead, she maintains a fashionably hideous wardrobe (this is the Brady Bunch of the '90s), good hair, and a line of patter heavy with teen argot.

The well-crafted show, a hit among teenagers, is often a meditation on the tension between fate and choice. In a world of contract, Buffy is governed by status; while her friends can choose their paths, she must be the slayer. She does it her way, breaking every rule in the Slayer Handbook (including the one about not dating even good vampires, such as the heartthrob to the left) and adding imagination to skilled fighting technique. When a second slayer turns up, destiny suddenly becomes choice: "I wonder if it would be so bad being replaced….I could say, 'Kendra, you slay. I'm going to Disneyland.' "

Choice confirms fate–she'd never leave her post. Slaying suits Buffy, as long as she can reshape that fate to fit the rest of her. An interesting theme to imbibe at the dawn of the biological century.