A lethal dose of camp? Check. Bad makeup? Check. Intriguing plotlines with multidimensional characters that provoke deep philosophical debate? Huh?
I spent the last two days in New York City with HBoO glued to the TV watching the second season of Buffy. For those that don't know, it's Joss Whedon's first series. Before DollHouse, before Serenity, before Firefly, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A ridiculous premise, Sarah Michelle Gellar is a 90 lb. martial arts expert who kills superhuman vampires in a small California town, Buffy succeeds in transcending and/or subverting almost every norm of television for teens.
I'll give you an example...
In one episode, a childhood friend of Buffy's moves to Sunnydale (the small town where the show is set) and attempts to court her. In the process, we learn that he is affiliated with a group of dorky goth kids who want to become vampires. Foolishly, he makes a deal with the show's ultimate baddy to deliver Buffy (the Slayer) and the dorky goth kids to the real vampires in exchange for immortality through vampirehood.
For the first three quarters of the episode, this kid is portrayed as the usual weekly threat to Buffy and her friends. Towards the end, however, when Buffy is fighting the kid in an attempt to save everybody, his motives are revealed. He has brain cancer and rather be immortal as a vampire than suffer the torments of a malignant terminal illness. He ends up getting his wish, but, seconds later, Buffy puts a stake through his heart. The theme, quite plainly, is that there is no such thing as pure good and evil, just endless shades of gray.
That's some serious shit when you consider that the title character's fighting stance looks like this:
But, seriously, it's really good. If you haven't already, check it out.