Boreanaz, Dushku and Gellar have all distanced themselves from Whedon, with the latter saying on Instagram that even though she is “proud” to have her name associated with Buffy Summers, “I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon .” Undoubtedly, Gellar’s personal contribution to the show’s positive legacy should not be overlooked; her searing, relatable yet complex performance over seven seasons was as important to the show as any credited writer, and her name will, deservedly, be forever synonymous with Buffy’s – as will those of the cast and their array of beloved characters. “They might not have liked what was happening behind the scenes, but the actors loved being a part of this thing that became something else for them because of the fanbase,” says Barbé-Brown. “They will be loved and adored as these characters for generations.”
With all that to consider, has the show’s legacy been irreparably tainted? Whedon’s mission statement of delivering “the joy of female power” does not always seem to have manifested behind the scenes or in front of the camera. And yet, 25 years on, one cannot deny the importance of what Buffy the Vampire Slayer did, in centering several strong female characters within a populist genre format, thereby pushing the boundaries of what was expected from a female-led TV series. But, as with a lot of old shows, including its peers from the 90s, like Friends, it’s hardly a surprise, perhaps, that there are character and narrative elements that have aged badly. “There are some characters that you’re going to look at and go ‘why on earth are they behaving that way?’ but you have to remember that was 25 years ago, and if you can look at it as a period piece, you can still get a lot of modern day benefits from it,” says McKillop, who is rewatching the series with her own daughter. “She’s getting a lot out of it. Not necessarily the same things that I got out of it when I first watched it, but she’s definitely getting some good messages.”
What is very clear is that both old fans and new are more than willing, like Gellar, to separate the show from its creator. “I still think it’s a really good hearted, smart, influential, inspiring show,” says Darke. “Fans have refused to let Whedon sour the show for them. It’s like, ‘well, actually, it’s not yours anymore. It’s ours’.”
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