So you just watched BtVS...
What to watch after Buffy
Finishing a good book, movie or show always leaves me feeling both satisfied and excited. I love reaching the conclusion to something I am invested in, but also find myself delighted to search for a new project to engage with. That leads to the eternal (and occasionally infernal) question: what's next?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a staple in my abode. Anyone who knows me even a little, knows it's my favorite show of all time. Certainly, if you grew up in the 1990s/early 2000s, there is almost no way you did not have some relationship with this cult classic. Every fan has their own way of connecting with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For me, it’s both the supernatural-gothic world and the many parallels I find between Buffy (the character and the story) and myself.
When I feel like life just knocked me down? I watch Checkpoint (S5, E12). Buffy, a superhero with incredible strength and skills struggles, just like me, just like all of us. Watching her overcome the feeling of powerlessness is, well, empowering. If she can stand up to the people who would belittle her, I can confront life’s challenges with strength and savvy, too. When I need to be reminded who the H-E-double hockey sticks I am? There’s Showtime (S7, E11). And, in times of heartbreak, Innocence (S2, E14) is there to remind me that, in the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, I will survive.
But, I digress. If you, like me, love Buffy, here is what I recommend: first, you need to sort out what it is you’re in the mood for. As I said, for me, Buffy is either about feeling inspired or getting into some supernatural adventure.
If it’s an inspirational tale of perseverance, resilience and a flawed hero, I suggest The Prince of Egypt. Surprised? I bet. Here’s the deal: the story of exodus is, without question, an inspiring tale. It is a story of speaking truth to power, even when it is scary and uncomfortable. It is a story of a people who survived being enslaved and went on to build a nation as free people. What I find inspiring about the film is the exploration of Moses as an imperfect but good man. In many ways, his story is one many of us who are trying to become better allies and champion equality are living through. Moses learns to abandon his comfort and use his privilege to support others and champion liberation and falls many times in the process. Like him, we all must learn to get uncomfortable and not expect perfection or for others not to criticize us when we err.
If, on the other hand, you are on the jonesing for vampires and the supernatural, there is a veritable treasure trove of shows and movies for you to watch. Here are some of my favorites:
1. What We Do in the Shadows (FX): looking for both the vampiric and comedic elements of BtVS? WWDITS is the show for you! Imagine Buffy meets Park and Rec and that's pretty much what this show it. It's a mockumentary that follows three vampires, an energy vampire, and their familiar living in Staten Island as hilarity ensures. Let's just say the term "superb owl party" comes about, so you know you're in for some laughs!
2. The Strain: Looking for something more intense? The Strain is an exciting blend of science, the supernatural, and adventure. Follow a ragtag group of vampire hunters as work together to save New York City and the entire world from an ancient vampire and Nazi-vampire lackey. The Strain is also an emotional show; I found myself connecting with the characters and feeling invested in their success. It also made me reflect a lot about the nature of love, what human beings are like, and how power and privilege can be deeply corrosive forces.
3. The Conjuring cinematic universe: For some good, old-fashioned jump scares, I highly recommend the Conjuring universe. The original Conjuring film is atmospheric, eerie, and fun to watch with a bowl of popcorn. The other movies in the universe are also great. My personal favorite is The Nun, which is set in a truly frightening Romanian monastery. The pacing, visuals, and directing work together to create an excellent scary movie.
There are, of course, many more pieces I would recommend to lovers of BtVS, including The Vampire Diaries and The Haunting of Bly Manor to name a couple. The important takeaway is that to find what's next, and what you will really enjoy after finishing an engrossing show with lovable characters, is to identify those elements you loved about it most.