Buffy: The Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997, 5 years after the movie of the same name. When it premiered in March, I was approaching the end of my sophomore year. So at the time, the horror of high school was something I could easily relate to. And at the time, it was rather enjoyable to sit back, and watch a show that played into many of the horror movie tropes that I had become so enamored with. Although, I have to admit having several attractive ladies featured on a regular basis did nothing to hurt my teenage mind from enjoying things.
Joss has a sort of legacy with his writing, a certain style of witty dialogue that can be seen everywhere from Buffy, all the way to something more modern like Marvel's The Avengers. This series was my first exposure to his particular style, and is it any surprise that within months of seeing the first episode of this series, I enrolled in my first drama class?
The first and second seasons of the show set things up well, taking the show from a simple "monster-a-week" sort of show that felt almost like a more grown up Scooby Doo, to a show where each episode seemed to have a real impact on the next. It also sets up the fact that at times Sunnydale is as completely oblivious to the world around them as Superman's hometown of Metropolis. This is highlighted well in the second season, where Buffy literally shoots off a bazooka in the middle of a crowded mall, with not even the slightest of societal repercussions.
These two seasons also establish that pretty much everyone in the show is not allowed to have the traditional "happily ever after". Not a single character has a healthy love life. No one gets perfect happiness. The unreality of the show lends itself to a certain reality that is absent in so many similar stories. The concept of a "happily ever after" just doesn't exist in high school, no matter how much Hollywood may try and make it seem like there is.
These episodes also play into the teenage concept that the world revolves around them. And for a change, it actually does. So much of the world seems to revolve around Buffy, that it comes off as a bit of a parody of the egotistical nature of the teenage psyche.
One last thing I'd like to address about the series, that has been mentioned to me ad nauseum by the fans of a certain modern day "vampire" romance. They complain that I am being hypocritical when I praise Buffy, and tear down their particular brand of drivel. One simple answer, is that Buffy actually has emotions, and can express them. But the more important answer, is that throughout, it is never forgotten that vampires are monsters. They are demonic abominations, intent on ripping apart people for food, and for pleasure. While it may be argued that throughout the 1st season, as well as half of the second season, Angel is portrayed as a bit of a lovable chap, they never lose site of the fact that the man is a vicious killer.
While the first season had flaws in pacing, with the second season, it hits it's pace. Truly, this show holds up as a masterpiece of dialogue, and a triumph for serialized horror comedy.
Season 1: 6 of 10. It has flaws, but serves as a great introduction to the series.
Season 2: 8 of 10. Things get kicked up a notch, and it makes an effort to tie each episode together.