Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are American cult television series. Buffy the Vampire Slayer initially aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. It was created by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions. The series narrative follows Buffy Anne Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the latest in a line of young women chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness as the Slayer. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang." The series usually reached between four and six million viewers on original airings. Although such ratings are lower than successful shows on the "big four" networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox), they were a success for the relatively new and smaller WB Television Network. Buffy's success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games. The series has received attention in fandom, including fan films, parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.