I always knew that Stephanie Meyer, author of the inexplicably popular Twilight series, was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that in crafting her quadrilogy, the knowledge of Buffy-lore was seeping into her writing, but it’s easy to forget this when dealing with a mythology that turns vampires into puppy dogs. And then you watch Season Three of Buffy during Marathon Monday because you have the day off and the idea of starting to study for finals is overwhelming. And you begin to notice something: Joss Whedon could be to blame for every “Edward!” screaming teenager in this country. Specifically Season Three gave birth to a lot of the stuff that was so prevalent in Twilight. (Spoilers for both Buffy and Twilight abound!).
- Season Three is the season in which Buffy and Angel are still together, but are also both aware that sex would lead to, you know, the world ending and all that jazz, so there’s lots of handholding and frustrated smoochings. It’s all about the frustrations of chastity and the temptations of sex. Specifically, this struck me during the “Prom” episode, where Buffy and Angel woke up in bed together fully clothed and semi-chaste. In Twilight, Edward’s an old fashion boy terrified of unleashing his inner demon by having sex with Bella (at least before marriage!), and when he finally does it nearly kills her, and leads not so much to the world ending as it does to the ending of Bella’s world.
- In the same “Prom” episode, Angel tells Buffy he has to leave her because they’ll only cause each other pain, and because she’ll eventually want the whole kids, real-world thing. In Twilight news, Book Two New Moon finds Edward leaving Bella with much the same speech, although Bella, unlike Buffy, is a petulant child about it and weeps for months rather than killing hellbeasts (way more therapeutic).
- In “Earshot,” Buffy acquires an aspect of a demon that causes her to be able to read minds. You can almost here Meyer’s wheels turning. In Twilight world, Edward becomes a mind reader. This, in and of itself, wouldn’t be all that interesting (Whedon has done many good things for the world of genre fiction, but I can’t credit him with inventing mind reading), but then we find out that while Buffy can hear the thoughts of her mother having sex with Giles (TWICE!) on a police car, she can’t hear Angel’s. It’s both a frustration, and a romantic moment when he promises to tell her anything she wants to know. Twilight would invert this.
- Vampires as absurdly beautiful sex gods. Neither Twilight nor Buffy can claim any original hold over the idea of sexy vampires, but with Angel and Spike, Buffy turned it into an art form that Twilight jumped from.
- The Xander-Jacob connection: wise cracking best friend? Check. Xander’s also the first person in Sunnydale to meet Buffy. So’s Jacob. Nearly overwhelming crush that will never be fully satisfied (and that often leads to the boy in question acting jealous and jerky)? Check. Except Xander shacks up with an ex-vengeance demon, where Jacob falls in love with a baby. But Anya’s kind of infantile in her… yeah there’s really no comparison. Xander even wants to kill Angel at the slightest provocation, kind of like the epic Werewolf v. Vampire feuding of Twilight, and Angel seems to return the aggression (In “Aggressions” while Angel fakes an attack of the Angeluses, he punches Xander in the face for pretty much no reason).
- Edward could not be more like Angel if he were played by David Boreanaz (at least the Angel who populated the Buffy-verse, he goes a little off path in Angel). From the old world values, the moody stare, the absurdly-well-coifed hair for a boy who supposedly can’t see his own reflection, straight on through to the penchant for creeper, stalker-hood when it comes to his beloved. In Season Three, in particular, Angel, with his intense guilt for Season Two’s baddyness, is all Edward’s moody pouting and frustrated sex drive (and let’s think about that family for a second –> Drusilla is Alice, the quirky sister. Spike is both Jasper,in his blood-lusting, and Emmet, in his wise cracking. And Darla is one hundred percent Rosalie, blond and beautiful and deadly, and holding a nearly unnatural thrall over Angel).
I could explain in detail just why the Whedon version of events is better, but that’s hardly the point. It sort of makes me love Twilight way more to think of it as the most famous fan fiction of all time.