Building a Mythology, The Vampire Slayer Way

Not So Different

From the late-1990s to the early-2000s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer developed a remarkably devoted collection of fans. But what made the show so appealing to this sizeable, but still niche audience? Was it just the attractive cast of actors? Or the vampire chic? Or Joss Whedon’s clever ear for dialogue? Or the youth television movement that had the show sharing television blocks with the likes of other teen favorites like Dawson’s Creek and Felicity?

While all of these factors likely contributed to the success of Buffy, I would argue the greatest reason for the passionate devotion of the show’s fan base was the way in which the show developed and stayed true to its internal mythology.

While a number of episodes in the Buffy catalog feature stand-alone villains and isolated plotlines very few episodes are actually wholly disposable as the broader story arcs move throughout each episode, and seemingly insignificant flights of fancy (Nicholas Brendan’s Xander turning into the army soldier he dressed up as for Halloween) come back to play a meaningful part in the overall plot of the show (Xander manipulating his way into a real military base later that season, and coordinating and armed force of student soldiers the following year).

In Buffy, creator Joss Whedon developed a self-contained universe in which real kids face real issues, while simultaneously engaging in metaphorical battles against evil that alternately lead to self-discovery, love, or, on more than few occasions, destruction.

When you think about ways of getting your fans to commit to the cause of your group, consider the mythology you are presenting to them. How do the songs your group sings connect to each other? How does what you do on stage, or in recordings reflect the broader narrative of your group’s experience? How are you using public appearances, social networking, video accounts and blogs to let your followers be a part of your group’s development, evolution, and overall story?

Those who followed Buffy for seven seasons often report that they felt as they didn’t only watch a show, but experienced a life with that program. In order to rally the fullest support of your fans, consider how you can draw them into the mythology of your group.