As one who barely remembered that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel aired a decade ago on the WB, and one completely unfamiliar with “Buffy Studies,” I was especially struck by the campiness of the show. While I’m certain that some of what stood out to me was also a product of whatever strange trends that happened to be in vogue at that particular point in time, the stupidity and ignorance of all outside of the "Scooby gang (no relation to the other 'Scooby Gang' from another notable Sarah Michelle Gellar work)" especially evident; moreover, the depiction of the vampires was perpetuated innumerable stereotypes. Certainly a less heavy handed approach would yield heightened dramatic tension-in short, I would prefer to be pleasantly surprised (or shocked) than have every single bad guy labeled with leather jackets and a scowl. Clearly, the latter has an excitement coefficient roughly equal to that of tea time at a cricket test match.
I would like to believe that all of this is a conscious decision to put a B-movie type layer on top of an obvious homage to the works in the horror genre in the past. The need to lighten the dark themes of Buffy so that they’re more in line with what was acceptable on network television is clear, and perhaps by bringing in some degree of campiness and some degree of self awareness. Certainly show’s propensity for poking fun at itself draws parallels to sitcoms a la Arrested Development and 30 Rock rather than the seriousness and scariness of the Exorcist or the Poltergeist. There are other instances where horror is turned upside down and pushed out of the foreground precisely because when enough emphasis is placed on the campiness and absurdity of traditional horror tropes, it reaches a point of excess past the threshold of sensible horror, instead exuding humor as evidenced by the recent Zombieland or even the somewhat less recent Scary Movie franchise.
The B-movie elements (at least for me) render Buffy supremely more watchable…after all, I don’t think too many viewers have the stomach for so many years of dark and brooding vampire battles. It's almost like a reflection of the music industry, where for every emo band there is yet another derivative pop rock/pop hip-pop crew singing themes on some variation on Katie Perry. Taking the B-movie out of Buffy would amount to an inordinate dose of norwegian heavy black gothic speed trash death metal, at which point I would very much crave whatever the silver screen equivalent of "Firework" or "E.T." is. My question is instead this: do these elements detract from the depiction of heroines as an equally effective force for good compared to our traditional heroes?