"A kindred spirit”: The Impact of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Vampire Diaries on Adolescent Viewers
Since the mid-20th century, television shows have been a mainstay of the modern leisure system. Countless channels and streaming services broadcast dozens of shows every year, inundating young people with a wide range of genres and narratives. What impact do these shows have on their viewers? This thesis investigates how two television shows, The Vampire Diaries and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have affected and transformed adolescent viewers’ identities. By exploring the myriad approaches television takes in shaping people’s lives, from creating likeable and relatable characters, to disseminating mainstream social expectations, and normalising certain ways of living, this project uncovers the real-world impact of television on teenage identities. Through in-depth interviews and online fieldwork, the emotional, life-changing and empowering experiences of those who watched The Vampire Diaries and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as adolescents are revealed. This thesis highlights and explores viewers’ narratives, concluding that adolescent identities can be transformed in both the short- and long-term. While watching the two shows, viewers identified with, and/or idealised the televised characters. Viewers imitated onscreen behaviours and integrated the shows’ gender ideologies and expectations of romance into their own worldviews, with this absorption directly affecting their behaviour and relationships. Through interlocutors' narrated experiences, this thesis seeks to demonstrate how significant television can be in changing adolescents’ lives.