20 years later 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' lives on — but her outfits do not

Buffy may have been a Slayer, but she didn't always slay her outfits.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and fans are celebrating the impactful show and everything it has given us since it debuted in 1997. But one fan would like to remind us of an important fact: The fashion of 1997 was not that great.

Entertainment writer Rebecca Pahle has been shedding light on the unfortunate Puka shell necklaces and peasant blouses that appearance on screen through the "Bad Buffy Outfits" Twitter account, which the Film Journal International and Pajiba editor says she created on "a whim."

"I (wrote about) Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) terrible hats, which reminded me of the bad other outfits, and I thought 'eh, I’ll start this Twitter account,'" she says. The resulting account, which tweets screenshots of the regrettable fashions from the show with jokes and commentary, has amassed more than 7,000 followers in a little over a month.

We talked to Pahle, 32, about Xander's (Nicholas Brendon) terrible mushroom shirts, the enduring power of Buffy and seeing the show differently in 2017.

When did you first watch Buffy?

I got into Buffy pretty late. It was well past the time everyone else had started freaking out about it — during the break between Seasons 5 and 6, when I was in high school. I caught a rerun and was instantly obsessed — I watched two a night so I could catch up before the Season 6 premiere. (Oh, the days before binge watching!) ... I was a pretty intense fan for a short period of time, just by virtue of starting late. Other fans had a head start on me. I was the “stay up until 2:00 a.m. reading fanfic” fan.

Has the popularity of the Bad Buffy Outfits account surprised you?

Yes! It’s a weird perfect storm (between) the 20th anniversary, the resurgence of ‘90s fashion, and a constant, latent desire to gawk at Willow’s terrible sweaters.

Do you think Buffy's fashion was worse than other 90s shows?

I don’t know about this, if only because I never watched a ton of TV. I’ve seen some outfits from Charmed, and that’s — whoo boy. I’m tempted to say it has worse fashion just by virtue of being a teen-centric show. Those tend to be more trend-based, and trendy outfits tend to age less well than the old jeans and t-shirts. But every show is impacted by trends in some way, whether or not it’s geared towards teens. X-Files wasn’t set in high school, and a lot of Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) early season suits were atrocious.

Why do you think we’re still so obsessed with Buffy 20 years later?

Simply put: Because it’s still an excellent show. It was never a perfect show — aspects of the Buffy/Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar/James Marsters) relationship were problematic, to put it very, very, very lightly — and (this just from a personal perspective) I thoroughly dislike Xander with his “I’m a Nice Guy, Buffy love me!” schtick. But (creator Joss Whedon) knows how to write dialogue, and the characters are for the most part incredibly well-rounded and engaging. I think that’s the number one reason. Everybody had an arc. Everybody had development. It’s weird to go back and re-watch season one. Oh, you sweet summer children!

Besides the outfits, do you see any aspects of the show differently now than you did before?

I like Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) more than I did before, though. Like many nerdy teenage girls, I had this pernicious “not like the other girls” thing going in high school. Now I recognized that for what it is — internalized misogyny — but at the time I saw this Valley Girl cheerleader character and thought “ew, she’s a (expletive).” She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts Taylor Swift-type nonsense. When I re-watched as an adult, I realized how great Cordy is. She can be mean and selfish, sure, but at least she’s not passive-aggressive about it. ... She sticks up for herself and knows what she deserves.

What is the absolute worst Buffy outfit?

I have nightmares about Xander’s mushroom shirt every single day of my life. I think I had them in the womb.

USA TODAY


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