Saturday, April 6, 2013

Top 5 Favorite Settings in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You can't hear Buffy the Vampire Slayer and not think about that charming little town she comes from. Sunnydale is synonymous with its little sign that keeps getting knocked over by Spike and the graveyards Buffy roams and the hampster in Willow's room.

But the truly lovely thing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that Whedon didn't just stop after creating dynamic characters and amazing plots. He went further and wanted to make the small town of Sunnydale into a character itself. It's got a sunny exterior where people live and shop and sleep and eat, completely unaware of the things that go bump in the night. Then, you delve a littler bit deeper and it's got a darker side--the graveyards, the dead-end alleyways, and of course, the Hellmouth it's sitting on. Just like with a person, Sunnydale has a great blend of light and dark which is one of the reasons Buffy the Vampire Slayer is so great.

So I'm here today to talk about my top 5 favorite nook and crannies of good old Sunnydale and I hope you'll come with me to visit!

5) Sunnydale High's library- You all totally knew this one had to make the list. It's the first place the Scoobies and Giles came together so of course, it needed to be included. What I loved about the library was that on the surface, it seemed so normal. Rows and rows of books, a stuffy British librarian looking up as you walk in the door, a red-headed girl with her nose pointed to a computer screen and a metal cage to keep some of the pricer items. But then you look a little closer and start to see large, dusty tomes about angels and devils and vampires, oh my! You see a bouncy little blonde girl in the corner with headphones on, hitting a punching bag and sometimes you catch sight of a naked guy curled on the floor locked in the metal cage.

I loved how safe it felt. The library was the place for the Scoobies to meet. It's where Buffy found out she was destined to die and where they discovered Angel's dark past. But locked away safe in those walls, surrounded by books, it always felt like everything would be alright. The Scoobies worked together, studying and talking and plotting to get through the toughest supernatural problems and the worst social situations.

And then the Hellmouth opens up and a monster comes up out of the library floor and suddenly, their safe haven isn't so harmless now. It's sitting on top of such great evil that it can't contain it. To me, that scene symbolized how fragile youth can be and how things like safe places don't really exist in the real world. So many good and bad things happened there that I can't help but look at it with fond memories!

4) Sunnydale High After the Fire- I loved roaming the halls of Sunnydale with the Scooby Gang and discovering previously unexplored areas of their school. Like with all high schools, there were a lot of really good memories there. That's why going back to Sunnydale after the mayor goes crazy on it and they are forced to burn it down is one of the most profound experiences in the show and makes for one of my most memorable settings.

Sunnydale High's ruins are the literal translation of the Gang growing up. There is nothing to come back to so they have to go forward onto even scarier Big Bads with the reminder that you can never really go home. Watching them walk through the remains gave me goosebumps in the later episodes because I can remember it the way it was with them. Seeing it reduced to darkness and trash and burnt ruins is awful but I couldn't look away.

3) The Magic Box- I just said that you can never go home but you can find some place new to build on. With Giles' apartment and later, The Magic Box, that's exactly what the Scoobies did. However, right from the beginning, we know that The Magic Box isn't safe like the library was. The previous owners have been murdered, there are break-ins all the time and they have to clean up this store at least three times after Giles buys it but it is a place that has everything they need and a perfect excuse to talk vamps sans the weird looks.

Of the Scoobies bases, the inside of The Magic Box is the most interesting to look at in my opinion. I love that they are surrounded by the tools of their trade and can always find what they need. It also happens that one of my most memorable episodes "Tabula Rasa" occurs in The Magic Box. For those of you that don't remember, this is the episode where Willow is using magic like crazy and accidently makes the entire gang forget who they are. This makes Spike and Giles believe that Spike is his son due to their "nancy boy" accents and that Anya is engaged to Giles since they both own The Magic Box. I LOVED that episode and it was so fun how The Magic Box was used as several clues to help them "figure out" who they were and what they were doing before falling asleep.

2) Spike's Crypt- As a Spike fan, it's pretty lucky that I didn't add "under the tree in Buffy's yard" too since some of my favorite scenes are Spike chain smoking outside just waiting for her to come out so he can exchange some lame insults her way. But, I digress. So, back on topic, Spike's Crypt is a must for me. The reason being is that I loved seeing how it changed as Spike began to settle into his bachelor pad in the cementary. Not only did the top become a little more homey but he did amazing things with the underground part. I loved the rugs that were obvious stolen thrown across the floor mixed with the gigantic bed. I guess it's that odd mixture of dust and old things with new things like the borrowed chair and television that made me love any thing going on in this neck of the cementary.

One thing I could never figure out though was if he slept in the stone coffin above (which he is pictured in sometimes) or the bed down below (which he is pictured in sometimes). I also love that in the beginning, his crypt is sort of creepy but as he finds his place in the Scooby Gang, the crypt becomes a little more domesticated to the point where Buffy drops off Dawn to be babysat there. Also, it doesn't hurt that this scene was filmed there:
In case you don't remember, let me refresh your mind. This is the first kiss Spike and Buffy share where Buffy wants to kiss him. She disguises herself as Buffybot to discover what Spike told Glory while she tortured him. Spike tells her that he didn't reveal that Dawn was "the key" and Buffy says that she'll go tell Glory so Spike won't be hurt again. Spike tells her not to, that he'd rather die and it earns him this tiny kiss. Many more are to follow in his place but this is by far one of the sweetest.

Now... for my number 1 spot in Sunnydale...

1) Buffy's kitchen- In the show, Buffy's house is the one thing that always remains the same until the very end. People come and go from it, it turns into different things at different times and it isn't always safe but it is always hers and it is always there (until Sunnydale is no more). I could have done the entire house but I decided to be a little more specific and chose the kitchen.

I think of the kitchen as the wind down place. After a hard night of patroling, a killer fight with a big bad or with each other, the Scoobies wind up in the kitchen to top off the hectic day or night with a snack. When Joyce is alive, she is usually there with a snack ready to go and a happy smile and when it's just Buffy, the fridge is still almost always full. It's had some of the most intense character scenes (i.e. Spike and Buffy talk about their night in Touched, the Scoobies tell Spike that Buffy left in Season 7 when they didn't back her) but it was able to maintain its calming demeanor. They gather to discuss the end in the kitchen. When one of them reaches into the fridge for a soda, I as a viewer, know that everything is going to be okay, even if it isn't at that very second. Buffy's kitchen is my breathing room, it lets me feel like there is at least one place they can go to let everything sink in which is why it is my number one favorite spot in Sunnydale.

Honarable Mention:

I know that the Sunnydale Project is all about Buffy but I have to make a mention of LA and Angel. Since it's in LA, I didn't include it in my list but I have to get this awesome setting a shout out:

The Hyperion Hotel- This old hotel becomes Angel Investigation's base of operations after their old one was destroyed. I love that they are such a small agency yet they are located in this huge hotel full of rooms in various stages of decay. Angel always has the coolest places but Hyperion Hotel totally takes the cake in the awesome category. Plus, I think it's fun that as more people join their little investigation business, more and more rooms are fixed up to accommodate them. With each episode, we see a little more of the hotel and get to know a new room or corner.

So those are the places I'd love to visit if Buffy's Sunnydale was real. There are a ton more that I could add to this list: the Sunnydale cementary, Giles apartment, The Bronze, Angel's mansion, The Operative center and caves and more but I had to give you five and I'm pretty pleased with the list (and cheat) I came up with.

What do you think of my list? Which places would make your top five?


  1. I loved Buffy and all of the settings were fantastic, but I'd have to agree with Spike's crypt (but I'm also a massive Spike fan too).

  2. This is one of my all-time favorite tv shows and I own all the seasons! If I made a list I would probably have also included the club The Bronze, the Sunnydale Cemetary and Angel's "lair". I was a huge Angel fan and then when he left I fell in love with Spike.
    And now...I'm going to have to rewatch the entire series... great post!!

  3. +JMJ+

    The library would have been #1 for me and I wouldn't even have thought of Buffy's kitchen! Your insights were great to read. =)

    Off the top of my head, I would have put Faith's motel room in there, too. It really reflected her character.

  4. I love this show SO much. When i was younger I was legitimately obsessed with it. I think that club from the first few seasons would make it on my list... I can't remember the name of it though.

  5. Oh wow great list!! I would say my fav is Spike's Crypt :)

    I'm re-watching it all at the moment, and I'm on the end of season 4 :)


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