In this post I digress on the joys of parenting, including doing youthful things before moving on to the burning question, what age can Buffy the Vampire Slayer be safely watched by our nerd offspring?
Yay, it’s the school holidays; a time that for parents may fill us with dread and joy, sometimes simultaneously and in equal measure. A time we may have mixed feelings about. A time which will surely have ups and downs between ice cream, days outs, boat trips, tantrums and going just plain stir crazy. For some, a time to juggle childcare with work commitments. I am fortunate to have most work confined to term time or be do-able at home, (not by accident, but by design and for obvious reasons…)
This holiday we had a chance to play Laser Quest. I loved it, and couldn’t believe the excitement of dodging behind boards and blasting my loved ones with a laser had passed me by during my own wasted youth. I love that you can chose a code name, previously I chose “Buffy”, but this time I opted for “Ripley”, and I teamed up with “Pikachu” against his Dad. Then there was extreme trampolining. The only thing I didn’t understand was why so few other adults were having a go. Bouncing up and down without a care in the world, with no (or only low) risk of high impact injury to our aging joints created a feeling of incredible happy. Apparently bouncing has fantastic physical and mental health benefits. Oh yes, and the kids love it too. Sometimes we indulge in retro gaming on old consoles or just build some new stuff in our Minecraft worlds. Perhaps there will be museums and other such educational and worthy activities by week 2. All of which is undeniably fun, but not quite Buffy levels of fun… (party in my eye socket and everyone’s invited).
I have seen and heard much discussion, and taken part in the debate of – when precisely is old enough for the kids to watch Buffy? The certification for most episodes is 12 or 15. This creates a minefield, you don’t want your 12 year old to get hooked on Buffy only to say, ok, now this episode is 15 so now you have to wait for three years or skip the episode or offending scenes. The best way to view Buffy is by watching every episode in the correct order missing nothing, and doesn’t every parent want the best for their kids? If even waiting till 12 presents issues, what about if they want to watch Buffy at 9 or 10?! Ok, don’t judge, I don’t know how it works for you, but for most families a degree of flexibility and parental discretion will take place on viewing vs official certification. My son is 9 going on 40. He has seen a few 12 films, including just yesterday, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He has watched all the Star Wars films, barring Rogue One. One of the best Star Wars films, I know. But, come on, it’s not for the kids is it? It’s just too traumatizing… But, I digress, I would love for him to be ready to watch Buffy, but no I don’t think yet. Despite being perceived by many as a kids show, especially the earlier seasons, Buffy was often way too scary for the younglings. Yes, even season one. The Puppet Show for example, the demon that harvests brains? Terrifyingly creepy, as is the titular puppet itself, even if it is not the brain eater.
Being scared watching Dr Who was a mainstay of a UK youth in the 1980s, if you didn’t have to hide behind the sofa once or twice something was going wrong.”
In the UK Buffy was originally aired in the family friendly tea-time slot, which also used to be Dr Who time, but in recent years the Dr has moved to a later time in recognition of more adult and frightening themes. Being scared watching Dr Who was a mainstay of a UK youth in the 1980s, if you didn’t have to hide behind the sofa once or twice something was going wrong. However, Buffy, even in its early seasons, contained too many grey areas for what was safe family, pre-9pm watershed viewing. Scheduling Buffy at this time meant that chunks of the show had to be edited out, which often led to nonsensical jumps, confusion for viewers and understandable complaints from fans.
The Dr Who age guideline dilemma extends to many classic science fiction or fantasy shows that have a well established fan base who have grown up with the show. The show may develop to accommodate more adult themes. Although I have argued that early Buffy episodes also contain scenes too scary, disturbing or adult for kids, this is much more pronounced in later seasons of Buffy. As the audience grew with the show this surely made sense for the makers of the show. This can also be seen in the growing maturity of the Harry Potter books and movies. But this presents issues for younger views who will not be waiting year on year for new seasons as they mature alongside the show.
I tend to over think these question but usually the kids will guide parents, and we can find out from them what they are ready for. Yesterday I turned on Buffy when my son was busy reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, (which may contain some grey areas for kids consumption also. Discuss?-). Just as The Master’s frightening face was on screen he popped his head around the door, “Do you want to watch Buffy?” I ask. “No!!!” he replies emphatically and flees dramatically. I turned it off. The child knows best. Buffy will be sticking to after the 9pm watershed for the time being in this household.
Full Buffy re-watch posts will resume after the school holidays.
Text: Angela S