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'Buffy' nostalgia recap: Prom is the perfect high school moment

Season 3 | Episode 20 | “The Prom” | Aired May 11, 1999

Buffy Summers spent seven seasons saving the world on a weekly basis on television. She was extraordinary and amazing and a genuine superhero, but all she wanted in the world was a little normalcy.

This was a refrain throughout the earlier seasons, when the Scoobies were matriculating at Sunnydale High: Buffy just wanted her one teenage moment. She would say this in a BFF whine to Willow. She would sigh it to Giles like a disgruntled daughter. She would say it between panting breaths with a perfect dash of sarcasm while slaying demons.

Usually, the harder Buffy tried to enjoy a normal, typical teen moment, the weirder, scarier, and more dangerous things became. Uttering these words was practically a guarantee that a beautiful dress was going to be ruined or a new acquaintance was on the verge of turning evil.

But then there was prom.

After years of fighting evil and saving the ungrateful butts of her classmates, her years of thankless slaying paid off and Buffy got her perfect high school moment. Yes, there were hiccups (the hell hounds). Of course the night couldn’t be free of at least a little supernatural drama. But the bad guys were forgettable and easily vanquished, and Buffy got to clean herself up and attend her senior prom looking fabulous and polished instead of bruised and battered. Here are all the ways Buffy’s prom was perfection:

1. She looked fantastic and timeless. Everyone wants to look amazing at prom. It’s one of the only reasons to justify going. It’s your chance to pretend you’re going to the Oscars or some royal gala. You get all dressed up and then the big letdown usually comes from getting to the dance and not knowing what to do with yourself. Buffy looked flawless at her prom (simple hair, simple makeup, simple-but-elegant dress), and more importantly, she looked timeless.

Look at Willow or Anya or even, to a lesser extent, Cordelia and you feel like you’re looking at a prom from yesteryear. Buffy’s dress is so classic and elegant (it’s repetitive, I know, but it’s the best word to describe it) that it will probably never go out of style. That’s what nailing it looks like

2. She gets her perfect slow dance with her dreamy undead boyfriend. Even if you love Angel and love him as a love match for Buffy, you have to admit he was never much for the typical high school relationship stuff. You can’t blame him. He’s 200-plus years old. He’s way, way too old to care about that stuff, even if it had existed when he was the right age to care. Buffy always tried to pretend Angel could share in the light moments of her life and, for prom, he totally came through. He waltzed in, looking all kinds of dashing in his tux, and slow-danced her like a pro. And he fulfilled his other main high school boyfriend duty and by making every other girl jealous in the process.

3. She finally got the recognition she deserves for being a superhero. Superheroes are often, by definition, unsung heroes. They might get a lot of credit and love when they’re wearing their tights and capes and saving the day, but in daily life, as their mild-mannered alter egos, they fade into the background. Before slaying took over her extracurricular schedule, Buffy was popular. She was the kind of girl people would later say peaked in high school (even if she really didn’t). She was seen and acknowledged by everyone around her.

After transferring to Sunnydale, she quickly fell in with a different, less revered crowd and found the best friends a budding Slayer could ask for. Her school life was largely spent as one of those people who fade into the background, socially speaking. And when she did stand out, it was often for the wrong reasons, like picking fights and … arson.

Unlike a traditional superhero, a Slayer doesn’t get love and adoration when she’s fighting evil and saving the day. There are no tights or capes. All of the good is done as quietly as possible, under the cloak of darkness.

Still, Buffy saved Sunnydale (the high school and the town) more times than anyone could count. She wasn’t shy about showing off her impressive strength and acrobatic prowess when doing good called for it. Everyone kind of pointedly ignored her specialness, because acknowledging it would mean acknowledging why it existed in the first place. But at prom, Buffy got her moment in the proverbial sun. She didn’t get crowned prom queen or appointed to the royal court; she got something much better than that.

Jonathan (whom Buffy saved even more than she saved most people) gave a moving speech, acknowledging the scary weirdness of Sunnydale and Buffy’s part in keeping that scary weirdness at bay. He announced with pride that the class of 1999 had a low mortality rate, by Sunnydale standards, and that everyone knew that was due, in no small part, to Buffy. He awarded her with a lovely golden umbrella, dubbed her Class Protector, and silently dared anyone watching at home not to tear up.

“The Prom” is one of those BtVS episodes that’s much more remembered for its heart and love than for its monsters and action. It also happens to be a great episode to rewatch if you need to restore a little faith in humanity.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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