Angel standing between Buffy and Faith in Angel season 1

Why Aren’t We Making Silly Shows Like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ Anymore?

I recently finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. Currently, I’m watching Angel. Seeing how the tones of these shows manage to exist with their darker narrative themes, I have to ask—why did we stop making shows that use humor as a weapon and use it well?

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Back in the era of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, we had the rise of prestige television on HBO with shows like The Sopranos. The switch between shows like Buffy and the more “serious” television that HBO was offering meant that Hollywood could produce shows with darker moments but also have fun with the characters and storylines. Since then, we’ve moved away from that kind of storytelling.

Yes, there have been the rare shows that sort of fall into the Buffy/Angel category. Shows like Riverdale balanced the “darker” setting with humor, but Riverdale‘s humor comes from those of us who loved poking fun at it and less from the show’s writing itself. Angel and Buffy, on the other hand, knew that they could just be funny. Even shows like iZombie, which were funnier and had a serious setting, much like Angel, still don’t have that same campy approach that Angel did.

Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of this vampire-filled universe, but it makes me long for television that can strike that balance between humor and drama and recognize that it can do both whenever the story calls for it. Comedic scenes like Angel (David Boreanaz) pretending to be a coroner vampire or Spike (James Marsters) sleeping with invisible Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and saying he’s doing “naked push-ups” don’t really exist in dramatic television anymore.

It really is the campiness of shows like Buffy and Angel that I’m missing. Maybe that was just a product of the late ’90s and early ’00s.

We’re missing out on the humor

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had episodes exploring grief, like when Buffy’s mother dies in season 5, and the Slayer has to come to terms with her new role as her sister’s guardian. It could then also have an episode where everyone pokes fun at the fact that Billy Idol stole Spike’s look. You can’t find that mix in a lot of shows being produced today.

Again, I recognize that there are some shows you can force into the mold if you try hard enough. But it’s never the same level of camp that these two shows embraced, and it makes me miss it, even though I didn’t know it existed before I binge-watched them. When was the last time we had a detective show that included take-out containers of blood? When was the last time we saw a character like Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) trying to install a security system for an entire episode?

Quite frankly, a lot of our television has become some kind of event, and as a result, we’re missing out on fun shows like this. Binging Buffy and then Angel has made me realize that I do wish we had more of this unhinged, campy fun.

(featured image: The WB)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.