The Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot with a Black lead actress is on pause

Back in 2018, we learned that a reboot of cult fave Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in development and would feature a Black actress as the Slayer. Details about the storyline were scant and then came the revelations that Joss Whedon is a terrible person. Buffy herself suggested Zendaya as her successor, but there was speculation that the reboot wouldn’t happen now because Joss would be an EP and he’s persona non grata. That turned out to be true, with another EP saying last week that the reboot is “on pause.”

The undead population of Sunnydale can breathe a collective sigh of relief as a new slayer won’t be rising anytime soon.

A reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this time featuring a Black actress as its titular heroine, has been in development since 2018 — but executive producer Gail Berman says the project is now “on pause,” as revealed in Friday’s episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s TV’s Top 5 podcast.

Original series creator Joss Whedon was also aboard this reboot as an executive producer, with Monica Owusu-Breen (Midnight, Texas) serving as writer and showrunner. Owusu-Breen previously wrote for ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Whedon was an EP as well. The reboot, which was referred to as “contemporary, building on the mythology of the original,” never had an official network home.

There was some confusion, however, about whether the show would be a straight reboot or some sort of revival. Shortly after news of the reboot broke in 2018, Owusu-Breen stated that the original show’s beloved characters “can’t be replaced,” adding that she “wouldn’t try to” replicate the “brilliant and beautiful series.” Instead, she suggested: “The world seems a lot scarier [today]. So maybe it could be time to meet a new Slayer.

The original Buffy, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, debuted in 1997 on The WB and ran for seven seasons, jumping to UPN for its final two. It has since become a cultural touchstone and cult favorite among TV fans.

[From TV Line]

“On pause” sounds like a nice way of saying “not happening.” They don’t give any reasons why, but as many suspect, it is likely due to Whedon’s involvement. To which I say, couldn’t they just unceremoniously axe him and move forward? People leave projects all the time! I guess it’s not that simple, but I wish it was. There were so many other great writers and producers that had a hand in the original series’ success that it always bothered me how much credit Joss got for it, as if he single-handedly made it what it was, when he definitely didn’t. I feel like there were even fanfic writers that would be better than him. The fanfic and message boards were popping back in the day. My teen self definitely argued with a grown man over the merits of Spike’s character back then. Anyway, I guess it’s nice that one thing from childhood remains unrebooted. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy will remain the Slayer of Record. Buffy really did close the Hellmouth after all.

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24 Responses to “The Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot with a Black lead actress is on pause”

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  1. Mimi says:

    Yeah….. you know what? We don’t actually need a reboot/remake of every single thing that’s ever been created for TV or film. We really don’t.
    What we need is *NEW* innovative creative stories that haven’t been told yet.
    We also don’t need to put non-white people in every single thing that was once made by and for white people.
    What we need is stories of non-white people made by them and telling whatever they want to tell. How about really giving a voice to other races and cultures and letting them tell their own stories, in their own way?
    Shocking, I know……

    • CuriousCole says:

      @Mimi perfectly said! 👏👏👏👏
      I wish I could ‘Like’ your comment, it’s exactly how I feel!!!

    • Agatha says:

      Agreed. I understand Bridgerton is a fun soap but it is a mystery to me why the focus is always on Europe /us when it comes to “including” poc in period pieces. I think by now most people have a lot of info about what Europe was like in the 1700-1800s! I’m much more curious what life was like then (for various social classes) in South Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Oceania because there are barely any shows about that (which are also watchable like bridgerton). I think that kind of focus would be a gold mine for any producer/screenwriter who has writers block

      • Jane says:

        Agreed! One of the best things I’ve seen on Netflix in the last few years is Kingdom, a tv series about a zombie outbreak in medieval Korea. A period of history and a place in the world about which I know nothing and had never even thought about before, but now I’m really intrigued by it. I’d love to see more fantastical stuff set in historical periods that aren’t Europe. I just saw Prey and I loved seeing the Predator versus Native Americans, again a culture and period of history and place that I know nothing about.

    • Jo says:

      Wow what a great point. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what bothers me in these inclusions of POC in period dramas. Not that I think it shouldn’t happen, but it is not the amazing thing they want us to think it is. It seems to absolve white content creators without actually telling other stories or allowing them to be told.
      I will be checking out Kingdom!

    • Tessa says:

      Yes! Tell me the histories of Africa! I know next to nothing about that entire continent. Stop fighting about whether the Duke could be black (saying this as someone who LOVED the Duke) and put him in some authentic context.
      I honestly feel like showing us nothing but white people has been the choice of the white rich people “above”, not of audiences. I just watched “Never have I ever” and “The Squid games” and I enjoyed the heck out of both even though I’m as white as they get. A good story is a good story. I don’t need everyone or even anyone to be white to enjoy it. Those same producers also insist that females can’t be a bankable lead, etc.

    • Luna17 says:

      Perfecto said Mimi! This is how I feel about Hollywood trying to shoehorn women into remakes made with men originally as well. I have zero interest in a woman 007 and the never bothered seeing the Ghostbusters remake with all women, can we just have our own original stories and ideas?!

    • Rea says:

      Exactly that is why I do not watch any of the Disney reboots or live actions.

  2. Emmi says:

    It sucks that JW is the reason for a show not happening but do we need all these reboots? Are people out of ideas? I love Buffy. I loved it back then and I recently re-watched it on Disney+. It’s very 90s and also still very current. But I don’t believe for a second that there aren’t writers out there who have some fresh and interesting/entertaining pitches in their desk. #buffyxspikeforever

  3. ThatsNotOkay says:

    There’s a whitelash in TV, where content starring POC is getting treated as second class and expendable again. After BLM, everyone bandwagoned to try to prove they weren’t the ones participating in, benefitting off of, and perpetuating the inequities and hostile workplaces. But now there is a quiet retreat to the former status quo because all that allyship absolutely was just performative. The head of the new WBD is a prime example, unabashedly slashing and burning any diverse content or material starting POC and making no excuses for it. He will face no consequences and just continue to reap his half a billion dollar salary (wish I were kidding), and others in the industry are taking notice. Why force a cultural shift and help white people embrace and enjoy nonwhite content when we can “revert to saved” and feel safe in our toxic spaces again? Keep your eyes open, everyone.

  4. Nanny to the Rescue says:

    I’m sick of reboots, so this is welcoming news, even if it comes from the wrong reasons.

    And surely there are more angles from which new vampire stories can be explored? Maybe even similar bloodsucking creatures but from different continents? Almost all cultures have their own versions of “vampires”.

  5. Dee says:

    Whedon presumably owns a lot of the IP to the Buffyverse, so any show without his involvement is likely impossible. They probably looked at the public mood and decided they’d rather wait a bit for him to find a way to win back people’s trust than rush out a franchise that will be instantly toxic because he hasn’t done the work yet. Wise move imo. The franchise is valuable and a mistep like this can damage it permanently.

    • lucy2 says:

      I’m thinking the same thing, it’d be tough to legally do a spin off/reboot without him, and no one wants to do it with him. So back on the shelf it goes, which I’m fine with. The team, excluding Whedon, could certainly work on some original content.

  6. Flowerlake says:

    I really don’t need a Buffy reboot and I was a fan of the original.

    If they want to go with stories related to Buffy: at the end of the original series lots of women got slayer-powers. They can go with that and follow one or a group of slayers who are in different situations from Buffy.

    I don’t want to see another Buffy in an American high school again, have to accept her powers again, have people around them accept them again, blah blah boring.

    • Nanny to the Rescue says:

      It’s possible they’re not allowed to write any Buffy-related stories either. If Whedon owns the rights to the original, spin-offs would likely have to be negotiated with him, too. I doubt he is willing to relinquish his power.

  7. Imara219 says:

    I’m a huge Buffy fan from the first movie in the 90s. Of course, the tv show, and I even dabbled into some of the comics. Like, for real, I’m good on a reboot. As a Black woman, I want more original content that recognizes all aspects of our lives, not just plopping a Black person in an existing property that barely acknowledges their blackness and how that changes their perception of the world around them.

  8. Kelly says:

    Not surprised at all. I was a fan of the show but between some of the more problematic aspects of the show and Whedon’s awfulness have made it more difficult to rewatch. A reboot will happen eventually because the IP and show are incredibly influential, even with its flaws, likely without Whedon’s direct involvement. Hopefully, someone buys the IP rights from him so he can’t profit from it.

    It’s interesting that there hasn’t been any updates on the second part of his HBO series The Nevers with the current ownership canceling and ending a lot of programming. Many of the programming were shows greenlit under the old ownership, like The Nevers.

  9. Mei says:

    Didn’t Spike technically close the Hellmouth, not Buffy? 😉

  10. Sandy Wilkins says:

    I’m all for a reboot. If you do t want one do t watch it but there’s been plenty of time passed since the first iteration and young people probably have no idea about the first.

  11. Sandy Wilkins says:

    I’m all for a reboot. If you don’t t want one don’t t watch it but there’s been plenty of time passed since the first iteration and young people probably have no idea about the first.

  12. tali says:

    So tired of reboots. Tell me a new story!!
    So disappointing to see black actors given sloppy seconds white character roles. As if writing black character into a Regency era drama or a Tolkien fantasy is some sort of win. A win would be telling us an actual Black or, better yet, African story. Is HW not aware that blacks have their own stories?

    • Nanny to the Rescue says:

      If these types of reboots are succesful, that’s what we’ll be getting.
      Maybe flops and cancellations aren’t so bad after all?