It’s been a big week for ‘90s reboots – first it was announced that The Rugrats would return for a twenty-six episode series and now, fifteen years after its final season aired, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting the rework treatment too.
Although confirmed details are scarce, we do know that Joss Whedon – the original series creator – will return as executive producer, and that writer Monica Owusu-Breen, arguably best-known for her work on Lost and Alias, will act as showrunner.
Early reports also emphasise a specific focus on diversity; Deadline reports that producers claimed the show will be “richly diverse”, and that “some aspects of the series could be seen as metaphors for issues facing us all today.” No actor is confirmed for the role of Buffy, popularised by Sarah Michelle Gellar, but various accounts indicate that the plan is to hire a black woman.
It’s not the first time this year that ‘diversity’ has cropped up in conversations surrounding ‘90s remakes.
In January, Charmed announced that one of its three lead reboot characters would be a lesbian; producers also said they were actively looking for actors of “all ethnicities”, and that the new show would be “fierce, funny and feminist.” The show was always feminist, it was just never stated.
At the time, fans were sceptical of the buzzword-laden language being used to describe the reboot, and it seems Twitter is equally divided in its response to the Buffy reboot.
Some were overjoyed by the idea of a black Buffy.
Their excitement is understandable, especially given the notorious lack of diverse representation in the film and television industries. A recently-published UCLA study revealed that women and PoC (people of colour) are still underrepresented in both sectors, despite the overwhelming evidence that genuinely diverse entertainment tends to be more successful.
On the other hand, a slew of users have voiced their concerns that the new, black character won’t be given her own mythology, and will instead be lazily slotted into Buffy’s existing role.
The argument that this could be easily remedied is strengthened by the fact that Buffy is just one slayer in a long, comparatively diverse lineage. Rather than simply rewriting the role of Buffy, it would have been easy to just write a whole new slayer.
Social media may be divided by the reboot announcement, but many seized the opportunity to point out a seemingly obvious fact: networks would rather commission ‘inclusive’ remakes of cult classics than take a risk by hiring PoC creators to build representation on their own terms.