Finally, some musings on the showís portrayal of high school. Iíve recently discussed it with a friend on LJ how realistic, or not, is the portrayal of high school life on BtVS. As someone whoís not an American and didnít go to a US school, there are a lot of things in BtVS Sunnydale High that are completely alien to me, or that I only know about from US teen shows/movies, so I canít really judge how accurate it is. We didnít have the US school sports culture, since there are no organized competitive school sports (just physical exercise classes where you get to play basketball or volleyball or something) or official popularity contests (Homecoming Queen etc.) and all those school dances: thereís just the prom, after graduation, and thatís all; and the idea that everyone has to have a date at prom is also something alien to me. There are also other differences related to the school system. A line like "We had four classes with her last summer" is a weird one for me to hear; in my school, we didn't pick and choose different classes to go to; you're in a class, which comprises about 35-40 students, and you have all the classes that this class has. (The only difference between the classes is, however, in the foreign language classes you get to attend.) I also wonder if the school principals really interact with students so much in US high schools; ours were barely ever seen. On the other hand, class has one teacher assigned to them as the "head of the class" (a rough translation) who interacts with students the most, talks on their behalf with the other teachers, deals with things like student conduct, absences and students that are failing classes Ė something that US schools donít seem to have.
However, there are lots of things in BtVS portrayal of high school that are universal and do resonate a lot and make me think of my high school experience. The bullying, for starters; the way that certain students form cliques, and groups of students who bully others, like those in The Pack. Someone like Cordelia is also instantly recognizable (even though she's an exaggerated version, a lot of things she says are way OTT), the "cool" people ("popular" would be a misleading word - in fact, most people hate them, but they act like they're in charge) who are usually rich, dress up in expensive clothes and are considered sexy (partly due to looking older than their years - this is something that teenagers find appealing) and who have their cliques of friends/sycophants, and spend a lot of time mocking other people. There are also people like Willow, who could be called "nerds", though it's not the same stereotype - e.g. we don't have the cliche that liking SF or comics makes you a nerd - but people who are bookish, shy and tend to dress conservatively, like their parents are choosing their clothes (which they might be); boys who cover their insecurity with jokes and try to act the role of the class clown, since they don't think they can be the hot manly men; students that nobody notices (the "invisible" ones); and there are those that are considered crazy, weird or freaky due to their personality or attitude. When people assign a certain role to you, it's generally hard to get rid of it. And though there aren't any official popularity contest, you always knew that there was an unofficial hierarchy, such as, who are considered the hottest girls, or hottest boys. On my first week of high school (that's when we were 15-16), the boys in my class even had a vote between themselves for the Hottest Girl in Class, and one of them (the "class clown" boy) announced the results to the class during the break. There was a lot of competitiveness and jealousy between girls - things like Cordelia being jealous of Buffy and frustrated when boys would be more into Buffy (as in Never Kill a Boy on the First Date) because a "weirdo" isn't supposed to challenge and best her in hotness stakes, is something that mirrors my "relationship" with the Cordelia of my class, though in our cases it lasted much longer and was much worse and never got better.
Finally, here's a couple of songs used in BtVS season 1. See you next when I re-rewatch the first 11 episodes of season 2.
Dashboard Prophets - "Ballad for Dead Friends"
(from The Harvest
Velvet Chain - "Strong"
(from Never Kill a Boy on the First Date