A fair amount of people have found this blog searching for “I hate Buffy” or something similar, but I don’t know who any of them are. I feel like I’m so alone. I’ve come across one other person who hates Buffy as much as I do, but I know that there are others like me out there. So think of this post as like the batsignal to other haters.
I recently read this quote by Joss Whedon:
Wow. Yeah, Joss. I hate dumb TV too. That pretty much nails why I hate Buffy.
But let’s be critical for a minute and look at the data to test his hypothesis that Aaron Spelling lowered SAT scores. I found the following information(click to embiggen):
The chart covers only the graduating class of the test-takers, not the year the test was taken. So there will be some juniors and even sophomores who took the test before the show aired. Without better data, I don’t know how to account for this. If someone wants to give me better data, I’ll analyze it. Also, I’m not looking at the old scale.
Beverly Hills, 90210 was on the air from 1990-2000. In that 11-year period, the average verbal score went up 5 points and the average math score went up 13 points. During Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s shorter run from 1997 to 2003, the verbal score went up 2 points and math went up 8 points. Here are those numbers as a chart:
But since the two shows ran for different times, we can’t compare them. So I found the yearly average change (rounded to two decimal places):
The average verbal score increased 0.45 points for 90210 and 0.29 points for Buffy. For math, for 90210 it was 1.18 points per year, and for Buffy it was 1.14 points per year.
Buffy gets a lot of praise for being feminist, something that I disagree with, so let’s look at how the show helped female’s SAT scores compared with 90210. So here are the same charts but this time just looking at female students:
During the run of 90210, the average verbal score for female students improved 8 points. That’s 0.73 points per year. But during the run of Buffy, females’ verbal scores stayed exactly the same. I can’t imagine why watching the show wouldn’t have improved verbal skills.
For math, female scores improved 1.36 points per year during the duration of 90210 and 1.29 points per year during the duration of Buffy.
To conclude, Whedon’s hypothesis that Spelling lowers SAT scores is not reflected in the general data. Without seeing the SAT scores of people who watch Buffy compared with the scored of people who watched 90210, this means nothing. But even if I could compare those numbers, correlation does not equal causation and I know that Whedon was just using hyperbole. This really was just so that I could have mathematical evidence to demonstrate that Kindred: the Embraced was way better than Buffy.