After watching more episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer than necessary, I have come to love this show. Not just because of the happy 90s flashbacks, or the kickass heroine, but because of how Joss Whedon created a character with more depth than I thought possible. To me Buffy is very complex, she is portrayed as the blonde and popular cheerleader, the dark and twisted loner, the rebellious trouble maker, the sweetheart, as well as the hero all at once. Whereas on the surface she seems just like a girl fulfilling her duty, wishing she could have a normal life, she is also faced with trials of love, friendship, morality, and a typical high school experience of trying to fit in. Her ability to morph into these different characters astounds me. She can be the popular girl, but chooses the friends she thinks will be lifelong and meaningful. Even so, she ends of being friends with Cordelia as well.
While watching the episodes "What's My Line" part 1 and 2, Buffy comes across a second slayer Kendra, and the juxtaposition of this other girl who was sent to her watcher at a young age to be trained, who has no life outside of slaying, shows how extraordinary Buffy really is. She balances her whole world in miraculous fashion, and even though it obviously comes at a high price, with many mishaps and conflicts, she still does it.
This is why I feel she both defies and plays into stereotypical female gender roles. On the one hand she is a blonde cheerleader, who battles boy drama and fitting in at school. She also occasionally plays the damsel in distress, but even so it's rare. On the other hand, she defies many of the stereotypes for both females and female heroines. She fights with boys, and plays dirty at it as well. She fights with weapons, hand to hand combat, and basically beats up on these huge male characters with little mercy.
The complexity of Buffy's character is what draws me to this show so much. I feel she is an awesome superheroine, and does a good job of empowering females.