Buffy, Dark Romance and female horror fans

Lorna Jowett, Jennifer K Stuller (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


While Buffy the Vampire Slayer displays many genre influences, given creator Joss Whedon’s insistence that its premise was an exercise in gender role reversal, it is now easy to see Buffy as a key influence on the contemporary Dark Romance publishing and media boom. Just as Buffy itself draws on previous female action heroes from comic books, movies, fiction, and TV, Dark Romances from Twilight to True Blood offer variations on Buffy’s complex representation of romance, sexuality and gender. Now that VILF (Vampire I’d Like to Fuck) has entered the lexicon we can say that the Dark Romance (in which a female protagonist falls in love with a dark hero, usually a vampire or werewolf) has truly arrived. The popularity of the Twilight books and films, as well as the appearance of vampire and werewolf romance in a wide range of diverse popular fictions proves its success with audiences. This paper briefly examines how subsequent Dark Romances pick up, adapt and develop the ways forerunners like Buffy or the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels negotiate conventions of gender and romance for the twenty-first century. While Buffy may have surprised in its ability to attract a wider audience than the usual network TV target for an action/ horror/ fantasy show (teenage boys), much Dark Romance is specifically aimed at a female audience, and thus its representation of femininity, masculinity, and sexuality is carefully constructed to appeal to women. Therefore this chapter also explores how Buffy and its legacy of Dark Romance offers serialised stories that are consistently “about how hard it is to be a woman” for a largely female audience
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Place of PublicationBristol
Number of pages164
ISBN (Print)9781783200191
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013

Publication series

NameFan Phenomena


  • Fans
  • television
  • popular culture
  • vampires
  • dark romance
  • gender
  • Joss Whedon
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • True Blood
  • Sookie Stackhouse
  • Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter
  • Twilight
  • The Vampire Diaries


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