It’s hard to believe how long it’s been since we first heard that opening howl and entered the Hellmouth. The Atlantic has a great piece reflecting on Buffy eighteen years after its premier, and on the show’s importance.
In its first two minutes, “Welcome to the Hellmouth” establishes a universe, as the camera creeps slowly through a high school in the dark, lingering on skeletons in a classroom and shadows behind a door. But it also establishes a premise—that this is a show about female power. The pretty blonde, a vampire named Darla, isn’t a victim but a predator, just as Buffy has strength and acuity that belie her looks. At the end of “The Harvest,” the second part of the two-episode debut, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) watches Buffy and her friends walk away, cheerily discussing the ways in which she stands between the world and its total destruction. “The earth is doomed,” he says, wearily. It’s this kind of assumption—that being young and frivolous and having profound influence are mutually exclusive—that Whedon would go on to dispel throughout Buffy’s seven seasons.