Let me preface this whole thing with a confession: I was never a fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar. I believe that I used to actually feel that I hated her as a performer, but looking back, that wasn’t really the case. I’d deliberately never watched anything that she was in, is all.
It all started with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, naturally. My reasons for boycotting the show were simple. She wasn’t Kristy Swanson. And I *loved* Kristy Swanson. I’d watch pretty much anything SHE was in. So when this little non-Kristy entity took over the role of Buffy for the TV series, I was angry, and vowed to never watch a single episode, despite the rave reviews I was hearing over the years. No Kristy Swanson = no ME.
Flash forward to 2010, and my decision to attend Creation’s Whedonverse convention, even though it was no longer strictly a Firefly/Serenity event. My love of all things Firefly had not translated into an open-armed acceptance of all things Whedon, because that would have meant learning to love Not-Kristy. And I wasn’t about to do THAT, even if Joss Whedon HAD created her character to begin with!
Yes, I know I was supposed to be an adult. Let’s move on, shall we?
I realized that it would be silly to attend a Whedonverse event without having ever watched any of Buffy and Angel. I knew that if I was going to get the most out of the event, I would have to go back to the beginning. I would have to watch the Buffy TV series, after all.
So I did. I parked my butt in front of my TV as often as possible and watched episode after episode on the DVD’s my Hatter friend loaned me. I then had to admit that I didn’t hate it. I knew in my soul that it would never be Firefly, but I soon found myself texting various quotes to my friends and laughing and crying along with the Scooby Gang like everyone else.
And then it happened. Faith and Buffy switched bodies at one point, so I got to see Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku look like themselves, but play the other’s character. And in one particular scene, I FORGOT that I was watching SMG. As far as I was concerned, Faith hugged Buffy’s mom, and every emotion on her face betrayed how that really felt to her. And I was sold. I became a fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar – The Actress – right then and there.
That long-winded tale now brings me to her latest television series, Ringer. I didn’t know very much about it going in, to be honest. I knew there would be 2 of her, because she’s playing twin sisters. And that the awesome Richard from LOST (Nestor Carbonell) is in it. but that’s about all of the fore-knowledge I had when I sat down to check it out.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to think, at first. I knew I liked it, but I wasn’t sure how invested I was in any of the characters. I mean, the one we’re spending the most time with is recovering addict twin, Bridget; a character who is the first to admit her huge flaws and errors in life. She becomes very easy to root for, however, as the characters surrounding her (largely made up of her sister, Siobhan’s, friends and family) are all very flawed in their own right. The difference being, of course, that Bridget is the one who is most self-aware. When she believes Siobhan has killed herself, Bridget assumes her identity and slides awkwardly into a world she knows nothing about. And we soon learn how much easier that is to do when the people around you don’t really know the person they think they are talking to, either. Turns out the “good sister” had a myriad of secrets of her own.
We are only a few episodes into this opening season, and I am surprised at how quickly I became invested in it – in the characters, the unforeseen things that start happening, and in how completely Ms. Gellar has sold me on not one, but two, separate and complete characters. The incredible thing to me is not that one actress can play two different twins convincingly. Lots of people have done it over the years, and when they share so little screen time, it’s easy to know which sister is which when you are watching them. That’s just solid acting, and she’s great at it.
But the truly unique thing about it all is that you can tell when it’s Sarah playing Siobhan, versus the times when it’s Sarah playing Bridget pretending to be Siobhan. THAT takes talent, in my opinion. I’ve only noticed it done once before, back in the day when Ellen Wheeler was playing twins Marley and Vicki Hudson on the daytime drama Another World. I had the same feeling watching her then as I am having watching Sarah now. And it is a rare and wonderful treat.
So do whatever you have to do…watch all 7 seasons of Buffy back to back, steep yourself in Joss Whedon lingo and lore…or just tune into Ringer each week. You won’t regret it – there is a LOT going on to get caught up in!
Not the least of which is a double dose of one Sarah Michelle Gellar. And what can I say? The girl’s got skills!