Yay, I'm finally done! Getting to write about Buffy as a whole is actually what I've been waiting to do since the beginning of this exercise, which I've been woefully inconsistent at updating, but you can blame that on my being a Sagittarius. (I do.)
Anyway, Buffy, for me, was my first introduction to fandom. At that point in my life, I hadn't ever gotten so engrossed in a story that I wanted to tune in each week to find out what would happen to the characters that inhabited it. That trend continues to this day (with the exception of Orphan Black, which seriously, you should check out because it's amazing, and the Mass Effect video game series), although it is not due to a lack of me trying to find something. Perhaps it was the outcast angle, where all the main characters were both embracing and rejecting their Otherness, that I caught onto the most. I wasn't necessarily the school pariah, but I definitely didn't fit into the little box that my high school's culture wanted me to. It took until the 10th grade for me to be like, "Wait, I only have to deal with you guys for two more years. Why do I care what the fuck you think about me?" And of course, I was presented the wonderful Anya in that same year, who, like we all know, replaced Willow as my spirit animal, and that really only cemented my love for the show. I wasn't too pleased with how the story went, but I was willing to go into Season Five, which was brilliant (and part of me wishes that it had ended there, since Buffy's story was technically done).
Now, I was not always sold on Joss Whedon being Nerd God Descended from on High (TM), since there were a lot of things that he got wrong (race, female empowerment, homosexuality, etc.), but the fact that he approached these topics in the best way he knew how? That's pretty big. And the series really turned gender roles on their heads: all of the male characters played a support role, and actually, that theme was explored with a lot of them (Xander, Giles, Riley-yuck). Buffy really did stand on the shoulders of giants (Bewitched, Xena, Barbarella [hahaha], etc.), but it in turned paved the way for new female protagonists like Katniss, Hermione, and even characters like Blake Lively's (I don't know the character's name and don't care to) on shows like Gossip Girl. That's pretty impressive, methinks. And I think, also, that Buffy will be one of those series that is referenced by future media creators, not only as an inspiration but also a primer on what not to do, particularly race and gender identities (I have a hard time believing that Willow was 100% gay because of her relationship with Tara, but that's another topic entirely). The show was an important step with television, showing that a woman could be the lead role and could get a mass of followers that would trudge through the bad and revel in the good and, to this day, have an entire academic study dedicated solely to the topics that its creators delved into throughout its run.
So yeah, good show, Mr. Whedon. (Also, thanks for not making her like Kristy Swanson's version. Ugh.)