Sarah Michelle Gellar
By: Deb Chachra | Categories: HiLo Heroes

To a certain demographic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the high-water mark of portrayals of adolescence on televisions. Over seven seasons, the show explored the characters’ lives through high school and college. More interestingly (and this is where the “certain demographic” part comes in), the fantastical premise meant that the challenges of teenagerhood could be presented as nakedly concrete: a student who feels ignored becomes invisible, while ensorceled beer causes a group of college students to devolve into cavemen. Much of the credit for the appeal of the show goes, rightly, to Joss Whedon and his writers. But on the occasion of her birthday, SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR (born 1977), deserves a shout-out for her stellar job of leading the ensemble cast. Actors typically are recognized for their “realistic” portrayals, and genre actors are never taken quite as seriously as their “serious” counterparts. But never mind the perils of acting against a ball on a stick: genre actors can be asked to play roles that are seven kinds of impossible. In the Season 4 Buffy episode “Who Are You,” Buffy and another vampire slayer, Faith (Eliza Dushku), are Freaky Friday-ed into each other’s bodies. Faith is behind the switch, and therefore needs to pass herself off as Buffy. So she finds herself in front of a mirror, half-pretending and half-practicing to be Buffy. In the real world, that means that Gellar is playing Dushku-playing-Faith playing Gellar-playing-Buffy. It’s an astonishing scene to watch, and it’s almost impossible to remember that it’s just Gellar, acting. She never got an Emmy for it, but we’re happy to call her a HiLo Hero.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Loretta Lynn.

READ MORE about members of the Revivalist generation (1974-83).

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Deb Chachra teaches engineering at Olin College, writes about music, technology, and culture at zed equals zee, and talks about everything on Twitter.