TV (THE BOOK): Why ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ was one of TV’s best shows ever

Today is publication day for TV (THE BOOK): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, the anthology where Matt Zoller Seitz and I rank the top 100 American sitcoms and dramas ever, and write essays about them, and a whole lot of other things (movies, miniseries, current shows, shows that weren’t top 100-worthy but were sentimental favorites in some way, etc.). You can order it in multiple editions (including an audiobook recorded by Matt and me) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or your favorite indie bookseller.

Here’s Matt and I explaining how we assigned scores to figure out our top 100:

And here’s us explaining our rules for what was and wasn’t considered for the top 100:

We’re very proud of the book, and can’t wait for people to start reading, but if you still need a taste or two to push you over the buying edge, The Ringer ran an excerpt last week featuring part of our explanation for how the top 100 was chosen, along with our joint essay on Deadwood, while Matt’s home base at Vulture this morning has the essay on our top-ranked show, The Simpsons(*).

(*) Maybe my favorite section of the book – and the favorite of many of the early reviewers – is called The Great Debate, where Matt and I argue out what should get the top pick after we initially wound up with a five-way tie for first place.

Included below is the essay I wrote about a little show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which finished in a tie for 25th place – alongside, appropriately enough, fellow classic high school dramas Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life – among our Pantheon of series, coming up just as soon as I get the mustard out…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB, 1997–2001; UPN, 2001–2003) Total score: 94

TV show titles rarely bring viewers into the tent, but they can keep them out. If you want to give your charming blended-family comedy an ironic name like Trophy Wife, don”t be surprised if your target demographic takes it literally and stays far away. (See also Terriers, Selfie, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend…)