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March 09 2017

13 TV shows to watch if you miss Buffy. Good recommendations via Vulture, but some obvious staples are missing.

Glad Rob Thomas's iZombie is on here, but Veronica Mars is still the closest thing I've seen to the Buffy high school years. Teen Wolf deserved a mention as well. Plus Jessica Jones and Orphan Black. Heck, even Charmed.

[ edited by libradude on 2017-03-09 01:25 ]
An emphatic YES! to Sweet/Vicious. This show is the response to rape culture that we desperately need right now. I love it and miss it every day that it's not on TV.

iZombie is the one show that gives me a feeling reminiscent of what it felt like to watch Buffy. And each season just gets better and better. It's even better on the rewatch.
I heartily recommend Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (of course!) and Sweet/Vicious, which is basically "What if Batman was a sorority girl?"

I've only seen the first episode of Crazyhead, but it looks intriguing. Timeless was meh for its first episode, but I heard it gets better.

Honestly, if you want to watch a show that's like Buffy, the obvious one to watch is Agents of SHIELD. Strong and complex female characters, an older male mentor/father figure, a science loving female nerd who becomes SO BADASS as time goes on, etc.

But seriously, watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
@alliterator: I was just going to say, Agents of SHIELD, and I could also add:...a "found family" unit, people struggling with their (super)powers and nature, heartbreaking twists, romance as source of pain and drama, characters turning evil and actors getting to play different versions of their characters, "what if" alternative universes where everything is upside down... There's plenty of Whedonesque / Buffyesque stuff in AoS. Sometimes they even manage to get the mood whiplash between humor and drama/tragedy just right - one scene in season 3 finale that's one of my all time favorite scenes on the show was both a fight scene and an incredibly dark, twisted and emotional scene, but right in the middle there's one sudden hilarious line that makes me laugh out loud but then it gets back to being dark and intense.
However, what AoS unfortunately lacks, most of the time, is the cracking, witty, quotable Buffyesque dialogue. It's never been the show's strong suit.

What this article says about Crazyhead - specifically, the way the demons are killed - is already turning me off that show.

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2017-03-09 06:05 ]
What -- no Orphan Black?!

--Plus, I know it's not TV, but if you haven't seen the movie Whale Rider from 2002, I'd really recommend it.

[ edited by mozzarellademon on 2017-03-09 06:11 ]
Supernatural/Sci-Fi elements aside, Veronica Mars is the closest thing one can watch to the Buffy high school years IMO. The show is set in southern California, features witty self-aware dialogue, has mostly seasonal arcs and 'Big Bads', and includes Whedonverse alums as guest stars (i.e. Charisma Carpenter, Alyson Hannigan, and even Joss himself in a rare acting cameo role). Plus, the first few seasons feature a love triangle reminiscent of Buffy/Angel/Spike. Both shows use high school as a metaphor for real life-- Veronica Mars just leans more into the noir angle and class warfare.

Unsurprisingly, Joss loves Veronica Mars and iZombie (both created by Rob Thomas). iZombie is solid, but it hasn't reached Veronica Mars-level yet IMO. The supernatural element in that show is more in-line with Buffy, though.
@libradude: I think the only reason they did not list Veronica Mars is that they are only choosing between current shows.
@TimeTravellingBunny Perhaps, but the writer should have said that outright if that was the intent. Supernatural has been running since 2005 (overlapping with Veronica Mars), so it's not exactly 'current' despite still being on the air. The Vampire Diaries premiered only two years after Veronica Mars and will be ending in a matter of days. The Leftovers is about to end as well.

He could have at least given a shout-out to Veronica Mars in the iZombie section. I suspect the more likely scenario here is that he hasn't seen it.
Another one to add to the list in my opinion, possibly 'For a group of great characters working together to fight monsters of the week while simultaneously dealing with overarching storylines in a dark fantasy drama': watch Grimm.
I love Riverdale. It's turned into must-see TV for me.
@TimeTravellingBunny:
Crazyheads is really good and funny. The pole up the arse thing is only a thing one of the two heroines is saying as a call to battle and not really something that is happening.

[ edited by roadi on 2017-03-09 10:16 ]
My list would include:

1. Grimm
2. Crazyheads
3. Supergirl
4. iZombie
5. Agents of SHIELD
6. The Magicians
7. Orphan Black
8. Game of Thrones (why not?)
@Nebula1400: "Game of Thrones (why not?)"

Such a good question...

To keep it short: if you like quality storytelling, complex characterization, amazing character arcs, sensitive and believable depiction of people dealing with trauma, complicated relationships, strong worldbuilding, a number of strong, well developed and diverse female characters, supernatural elements and magic used in way that enlightens the human condition, thoughtful and deep exploration of themes such as idealism vs cynicism, the plight of the outcasts and marginalized people, the futility of revenge, what it means to be a hero and what makes a good leader...

...avoid Game of Thrones and read the books instead. The show is basically like a fanfic that starts canon compliant and is OK for a while due to the strong source material, but eventually turns into a terribly written crackfic that stops making any sense or being consistent even with itself, let alone having anything to do with the characters or themes of the canon work.

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2017-03-09 12:53 ]

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2017-03-09 14:50 ]
What, no Wynonna Earp?!!!! To me, this show comes closest to the ethos of Buffy- a strong women with powers she never asked for, a brainy assistant (in this case, Waverly Earp, played by the exceedingly cute Dominique Provost-Chalkley), a love triangle with Doc and Doll and Wynonna, a great lesbian romance in Wayhaught, etc.

Agree on iZombie, would add Supergirl, and love The Magicians.
Buffy and Pretty Little Liars? I fail to see a connection...

I'm also shocked to see Grimm and Orphan Black missing from the list.
Incidentally, the only show from the Vulture list that I've seen is The Vampire Diaries, though just the first 2 seasons, and I was not impressed. Am I the only one who thinks it's a show that really tries to be like Buffy on a very superficial level (yes, I know the source material predates Buffy, but I think the producers have acknowledged the Buffy influence), but only comes off as a pale copy?

On the other hand, while the Doctor Who franchise obviously predates Buffy by decades, the new Dr Who - or at least the Russell T. Davies years (when I still enjoyed the show - I lost interest during the Moffat years) - had a very Buffyesque dialogue and tone. And Davies is a Buffy fan and has acknowledged its influence.
Watching:

Supernatural - I love it. It's kinda like "The A-Team". It might use the same trick over and over again, but it's a trick I enjoy to watch again and again and again.

The Vampire Diaries - It's utter crap, the characters are horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE beings and I never should've started it. But I did and since I was quite late to the party - and thanks to the entertainment value of the first couple of seasons - I burned through the first ~100 episodes rather quickly. That deep I usually don't stop watching a show - especially a genre show (I DID stop "TBBT" after several seasons). I stopped for a while when Dobrev quit, but decided to finish it once it became clear there would only be two additional seasons. The shittyness of its writing rivals that of "7th Heaven" (another show I was watching for way too long - I was young and had a thing for one of the main characters); it promotes a most questionable set of morals* (or lack therof), with the life of a non-leading character meaning absolutely nothing; showcases one-dimensional characters (and not in a good way) and lacks in terms of acting ability, charisma and chemistry (I'm looking especially at you, Stefan). It often feels like the writers' equivalent to porn - with all the narrative flaws that come along with it.
...
Maybe I should look for some fanfiction where Buffy and Faith visit Mystic Falls and slay the crap out of those suckers...

iZombie - I really liked the first season and I really didn't like the second. I'm hoping for more scenes with Liv and her brother in the upcoming one.

Supergirl - S1 wasn't perfect, but it had several moments I truly loved. Melissa Benoist is an absolute joy to watch on this show and undoubtly one of TV's current MVPs.
The second season however... Well, the drop hasn't been as bad as with "iZombie", but between more or less losing Cat and those darn CW-influences (turing Olsen into a masked vigilante comes to mind...) things haven't exactly changed for the better.

The Leftovers - Interestingly, while this show is clearly much better than "The Vampire Diaries" (then again - what isn't?), it's also much harder to watch. I have to force myself to do so, which is why I've so far only seen the first episode of the second season.
The first season I liked well enough, but I particularly enjoyed the two character-centric episodes showcasing The Doctor the priest and his sister. Those were two of the strongest episodes I've seen in quite a while.
Also: Yes. I - quite openly - prefer "Angel" over "Buffy".

Out of all these shows, the one that reminds me most of "Buffy" is "Supernatural". When I think of "BtVS", I think of a fantasy show that combines drama with action and humour, showcases a boatload of unique, entertaining characters and contains great, memorable stand-alone episodes. "Supernatural" does all these things, too.


On the watchlist:

The Magicians - I don't know much about it other than it's genre and Kacey Rohl plays a supporting part. Good enough for me.

Timeless - Kripke & Ryan + a team of time-travelers. Again: Good enough for me.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - I heard good things about it and I'm always down for a musical.

Pretty Little Liars - It's teens + mistery. What can go wrong?

Crazyhead - Never heard of it before, but it sounds interesting.


Not interested:

Sweet/Vicious
Riverdale
Jane the Virgin - I actually watched the pilot a couple of years ago. It wasn't bad and I might even watch more of it under different circumstances, but there are simply too many shows out there, that interest me more.


*And I'm usually the last person to complain about morals...
For Supergirl, Sahjan, I have to add in Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer, but mainly Alex Danvers, a great and powerful person without any actual powers. Her story this season has been tremendously compelling. And do check out Wynonna Earp. It is crazy cool.
If you secretly prefer Angel, watch...

*lol* Yeah 'cos that would be shameful and something you'd want kept secret.
@Sahjhan: I felt pretty much like that about TVD while I was still watching it, and if the first two seasons (i.e. what I did see) were the relatively good ones, boy, am I glad I was never particularly invested enough to bother to continue. Especially since I'm usually one to complain about the morals (not of characters, but of the narrative on the whole), especially when it's about the narrative treatment of murder and treating "unimportant" characters as expendable and acceptable collateral damage.

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2017-03-09 20:33 ]
turing Olsen into a masked vigilante comes to mind...

Except in the comics, Sahjhan, this is the kind of thing Jimmy Olsen would do, so I don't think it's a CW thing.

I rather like Season 2, because much of it is metaphor for the social/political climate we're now in.

In other news, still sticking by my Game of Thrones inclusion. I began watching it because of Jane Espenson, and admittedly have only read the first book.
@Nebula1400: Jane wrote just one episode, back in season 1. She hasn't worked on the show since.

Season 1 was overall very faithful to the first book, with some exceptions. Seasons 2, 3 and 4 - relatively faithful, but veering slowly more and more into the fanfic territory. Seasons 5 and 6 - crackfic.
It's very telling how varied this list is. Nothing has all the elements in quite the same way as Buffy.

I'm with the people who see Buffy the most in Veronica Mars. Aside from the tonal and thematic comparisons others have brought up, IMO Veronica Mars's first season is one of the best examples of the episodic-serialised structure Buffy perfected in Season 2. An utterly compelling season-long arc, distinguishable episodes that are satisfying to watch on their own, and equally compelling character development tied into all the stories. I find that iZombie's season-long arcs and character investment are good, but not quite up to that level.

At the moment Orphan Black definitely fills a big part of the hole left by Buffy. For me it's because as well as the deep themes, ultimately I'm in it for the characters. I would want to watch those characters getting on with their daily lives and struggles even if larger things weren't at stake.

In terms of pure vibes, Supergirl resembles Buffy more than almost anything I've seen. It's not as adventurous and for me it doesn't hit those notes quite as well, but one of my favourite things is that it's not afraid to spend time with the characters in scenes that don't drive the bigger plot forward. Character moments have the breathing they deserve.

My current TV obsession is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and I can't say I thought to compare it to Buffy all that much, but it's true. Both have razor-sharp wit, both live for challenging and subverting the tropes, and both introduce outlandish situations and deal with them using realistic psychology. Plus both use their genres (supernatural fantasy and musical) to get at deeper themes and character development.
AND I can't not talk about their titles. Both titles sound like the silliest, most stereotyped series ever, and then the whole shows are about questioning why you had those prejudices in the first place. Buffy the Vampire Slayer challenges you to take Buffy seriously, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is constantly in active dialogue with the label it places on Rebecca.
I hope I am not monotonic, but I think perhaps people are not getting a chance to see Wynonna Earp. IN tems of shows that I think bring the Buffy ethos, I would include Veronica Mars as perhaps the closest, but add in Lost Girl and Wynonna Earp- which are both Emily Andras shows, and she really does remind me a lot of Joss. Wynonna has to deal with the curse she has which makes her heir and a person who has to fight the supernatural, while protecting her sister Waverly and deciding whether or not she is Wynonna Dolls or Wynonna Doc- two good characters. It has the same snark, drama, and funny scenes- when Waverly finally decides to kiss Nicole Haught (yep, Wayhaught...), the scene is actually very funny, especially about geoducks, and about the size difference between Wavery and Nicole. THye only had one chance... plus, bulletproof vest!

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