I came late to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer party. I watched a little of season 4 when my girlfriend at the time was rooming with a Buffy fan, then got back into it again in reruns just in time for the end of the series. hen attended one of those "end of an era" parties held by the Buffy faithful back in the summer of 2003.
(The real fun of those later seasons of Buffy watching was that my mother got me started on it again while I was consulting back in Chicago. My memories of Mom when I was growing up are practically devoid of tv, but apparently as more of us grew up and moved out, she started having time to watch the tube (and no kids monopolizing it.)
Thanks to the magic of TV on DVD (the way god intended television to be viewed), and Fox's limited edition *The Chosen Collection*, I'm reliving the joys of yesteryear with a little more context.
I could talk about the character development over the course of the series (my standard reason for loving a tv show), but my enjoyment centers on two of the show's repeating themes: laying down what you want for what's necessary, and making your mistakes right. Though everybody gets a few turns at it, the themes come out most plainly through Buffy herself.
At the macro level, you have the slayer's burden. Evenings of vampire slaying, days of people thinking you're flaky because your night job isn't especially compatible with daytime responsibilities. Work hard all night to save people that think you're a freak.
More specifically, there's pushing the lower end of the grade rankings because there's no time to study, taking a dead end job to support yourself and your sister now that Mom's gone, and no love with your vampire boyfriend because it will turn him evil.
Examples abound in the "making things right" category, but the most common pattern boils down to Buffy pushing her friends away (typically to keep them safe), realizing that she's making them miserable because all they want to do is help, reconciling with them, and Buffy and the scoobie gang beating the baddies together.
Specific plotlines vary of course, these are just recurring themes over the 7 seasons. But after the fun of the banter and the commentary on high school, I'm glad to see Joss Whedon and his team consciously providing a positive message about growing up and getting through life without getting too preachy about it. Letting your characters be flawed helps, as does letting them take some time to recognize their mistakes.
Anyway, a nice jaunt through memory lane. One I'm looking forward to repeating when my kids are old enough to appreciate it. (And you can bet that one of the first things Dad will say about the show is how Grandma got him started watching it back when he worked in Chicago. Grandma will thereafter forever be known as the Buffy grandma.) ...Provided we can find one of those primitive pre-high definition DVD players and a TV that will connect to it in the glorious world of the future.