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September 13 2011

Buffy - a shining example of how to mix genres. Chad Gervich of Script Magazine answers a reader question of is it possible to mix genres in a TV series, and offers up "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as his favorite (i.e. in his opinion, best!) example.

With all due respect to the Author, I think Firefly is the best example of mixed genres. Ever.
Different kinds of genres. Firefly mixes thematic genres (western and science-fiction, different settings but the stories can be similar) but Buffy mixes storytelling genres (monster of the week, apocalypse of the season, and character centered drama).

Of course, most Whedon shows mix both storytelling and thematic genres, but it's fairly common these days. Not so much when Buffy came out.
I don't think Firefly and Buffy differed much as to the 'genres' this article refers to - both mixed capped-off stories of the week with an overall arc. Of course, Firefly seemed to be spreading the arc heavy episodes around a bit more naturally, with the Serenity-the-episode, Bushwacked and Ariel all containing major story elements which eventually were major building blocks for Serenity-the-movie. Buffy - certainly in its first three seasons - seemed to bunch the arc heavy episodes together in the front, during sweeps and around the season finale.

I have no clue if this makes Firefly more of a genre mix or less of one, though, which - to me - seems to indicate that the separation into these four storytelling genres is a bit artificial. The fact that the author himself mentions several kinds of hybrids and mixes seems to indicate the same. Still, always nice to see someone praising Buffy, especially if that's someone who's apparently written a well-used text book on TV writing.
I love dramas that combine these genres. If you can create episodes that can stand on their own but also are part of a larger whole that has the sense of direction of an "event drama," ... well what more could we ask for?

Veronica Mars, one of my all time favorite shows, for example also immediately comes to mind as excellent at combining the "procedural" & "event" structures. While shows like The West Wing and Gilmore Girls hardly can be fitted into any of the categories at all (I'd say).

ETA:
Of course straight "procedurals" and "soaps" (I'd sooner say serials myself) can be great too, but to my taste they often become either to repetitive or too much of a blur. Yes, my dear imagined reader, that goes for both "procedurals" and "soaps/serials", IMO. Two examples of series that suffered from becoming too much of a "soap/serial" IMO are Angel (during S4) and Six Feet Under (during S3/4 especially).

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2011-09-13 19:56 ]

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