Why Black Buffy needs her own story – not a reboot

Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Image credit: 20th Century Fox
Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Over the last few months there’ve been a number of announcement about popular shows being overhauled and rebooted. 

From Charmed (which many people, including the show’s original star, Holly Marie Combs had an issue with), to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sister, Sister and Daria, there’ve been a lot of mixed reactions to many of these for various different reasons.

And now it seems as if the popular show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will also be revamped (sorry, not sorry).  

According to Indiewire.com, 20th Century has confirmed that Joss Wheadon is working with Monica Owusu-Breen to produce the revival of the show – this time around, with a black Buffy in the lead role.

Most Buffy fans know that the current TV show is itself a reworked television adaptation of the 1992 movie, so the question is do we really want and need a third version? 

This is only one of the many questions that fans have been raising. Of course there’ve been some trolls that are anti-diversity and simply don’t want another Buffy because she’s black, but many people have valid questions that go beyond simply complaining about race.

I am a huge Buffy fan. I don’t think the show is without its flaws, but I loved it for what it was and for the fact that Sarah Michelle Gellar kicked some serious butt in the show. 

We can acknowledge that the show was an excellent one, with a really great storyline and interesting characters, while still being aware that one of the big problems with it, like with most other series during that time, is that casting preferences were rooted in a pool of white actors.

So yes, we want to see more black actors getting screen time, but can we really fix the diversity issue by retelling old stories? 

Many folk on social media have been asking if it wouldn’t be better just to have new ones? Princess Weekes from The Mary Sue.com says that she doesn’t object to having a Black Buffy, but that she’d rather see black women get their own stories instead.

And she makes a valid point because the reboot will hinge on the inevitable comparison of how is predecessor is so much better. It would be lovely to think that there would be reviews and critique based on this show’s own strength, but I’m not that optimistic about that actually happening. 

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The problem, Princess adds, is that there is no ownership in or of the story. 

Which is why a spin off series about a different slayer set within the same universe would actually be much better because it would mean a new story that has the potential for a whole new set of rules and mythology to play with in terms of character and plot development.  

Rebooting the show feels like a cheap ploy to generate views.

It’s almost like they don’t trust that a black frontrunner for a different show will draw in a crowd, but that’s been refuted especially after the critical and commercial success of movies like Black Panther, Girls Trip and Get Out, which have proven that there’s not only a hunger for more diversity, but that there is also a big need for black-centric stories to be told.

And another problem is that toxic behaviour will inevitably follow within the fandom (it already has). 

I think of Kelly Marie Tran who was forced off social media because she was harassed and bullied because of racist Star Wars fan who hated the role she played. 

I can’t imagine that it won’t be any different for whoever gets cast in the role of Buffy. 

WATCH: 10 unforgettable Buffy the Vampire Slayer moments

I’d like to believe that it could be a good thing (and actually, there are some positives in that the producer Wheadon is working with, is a black writer), but to quote Princess, “we work on the internet” – a place where negativity and toxicity are often a breeding ground for the worst kind of behaviours to come to the forefront.

Still, I do hope that it will be a success in spite of my misgivings, because we definitely need more black female superheroes in our lives.

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