Spoilers for the entirety of “Angel the Series” below
Everybody wants to be a part of something; a team, a club, a gang, a family. It’s human nature to want to connect to others, and yet rarely in life does a person happen upon that perfect blend of acceptance and love that they seek.
But we can find it on television!
There is a long history of television shows that feature “found families,” better known as groups of people that aren’t related by blood but through experiences. These groups bond over time and create close-knit units that resemble a family.
There are many examples: Cheers, Friends, The Office, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, crime procedurals like Law and Order, even Scooby-Doo! All of these are series about a group of people who find each other and create that perfect unit that understands and accepts you in a way that you can’t find elsewhere; a place where everybody knows your name.
I find, however, that as ironic as it may seem, found family shows rarely reflect the nature of what actually being a family means. I suppose this is only natural considering the escapist nature of many of these shows, but still, sometimes I find shows touting the values of family without diving into what it really means to be one.
These series show internal conflicts and arguments within each group to test the limits of their bonds. Sometimes characters disagree with each other, lie to each other, or say hurtful things, but an overwhelming amount of these conflicts get resolved with an apology and a hug.
Buffy exemplifies this idea several times throughout its run, most notably at the end of its fourth season. The core group of friends, Buffy, Willow, and Xander have a huge argument, but soon after come together and hug it out. A few scenes later they, quite literally, become one greater being to defeat the big bad of the season heavily symbolizing the nature of their relationship. They are stronger as one unit, and they will always be there for each other.
Our real families don’t always get along this well or reconcile so easily. These series provide ideal units that always stay together when their limits are tested, but real-life families don’t just test the limits of their bond, they break them. Therefore, the harsher a show attempts to break a family apart, the further a show can dive into what it actually means to be one. No show breaks limits like Angel the Series.
Angel, like so many other found family series, takes a group of outcasts and brings them closer to each other through their adventures and experiences until they consider each other family.
Angel, a vampire with a murderous past who is attempting to redeem himself after gaining a soul, is at the center of the group. He hires Cordelia, an aspiring actress, Wesley, an expert on all things mystical, and Gunn, a vampire hunter from the streets, to help him fight monsters and save lives in the city of Los Angeles. As their adventures progress, they create the standard television “found family” (which will eventually also include Fred, a brilliant scientist, Lorne, a demon who can read your aura when you sing, Angel’s son, Connor, and Spike, basically Angel’s vampiric brother).
Angel goes so far as to make this overt by having Angel claim he is Cordelia’s family at the end of season one, with her returning the sentiment in the closing moments when she urges Angel not to be embarrassed for drinking some blood in front of her; she doesn’t judge his vampiric needs because they are family. They’ve had their ups and downs, sure, but in the end, they are there for each other.
That is until Angel fractures the family by kicking everyone out of his house. Angel is separated from the group for half of the second season, and when he does finally apologize and return, he is only allowed back into the group if he agrees to take a secondary role to Wesley.
While Angel is forgiven, the way he broke their trust isn’t forgotten and several comments are thrown at Angel regarding his lack of familiarity with the current unit. From this point onwards, Angel never fully regains Gunn’s trust as a friend, and due to Wesley’s position as the new leader, he and Angel have a building conflict that erupts when Wesley, trying to avoid a terrible prophecy, kidnaps Angel’s newborn son, Connor.
The series continues to push these people into situations where the absolute worst parts of them aren’t just exposed but personified. After the kidnapping, Angel doesn’t just threaten to kill Wesley, he attempts to. Gunn commits murder against Fred’s wishes, breaking her illusion as to who he is and what he is capable of. Connor, after growing up in a hell dimension and developing many personal demons, drops his own father into the ocean in a metal crate.
The team willingly releases Angelus (Angel’s murderous past self) to help them defeat an all-powerful beast. This series has a much less overt “we are family” message, and instead develops a subtle allusion to the fact that these people consistently use their demons to solve problems.
And who better to let your demons loose on than your family? There are moments that happen between families that are so ugly we’d only ever let them be seen by our families. Sometimes these actions lead to apologies, often they don’t, and even more often those apologies lead to the cycle repeating. Angel may be a show about literal demons but the parallels we can draw to our own lives make it a series that anyone can relate to, especially those audience members who have wished their families were a bit more perfect.
Angel himself wishes his family was more perfect. While at the bottom of the ocean (he’s unable to die due to his vampire superpowers), he passes the agonizing time by fantasizing about the perfect family dinner, which includes him and Cordelia happy, Gunn and Fred together, and Wesley back at the table – he’s sharing a meal with the people he loves. It is a scene directly out of any other found family show. But here, like in reality, this family is a fantasy.
When Wesley pulls Angel out of the ocean, there is no reconciliation. He drops Angel off with the rest of the group and immediately retreats. When Angel comes face to face with Connor, they argue and fight, and the scene ends with Angel saying, “I love you, Connor. Now get out of my house.”
None of these scenes feel good to watch. Unlike so many other found family shows, Angel doesn’t provide its audience with the comfort of family, but the reality of it. It doesn’t always feel good to be part of your family or the one you’ve chosen. Families get angry and livid. After all these events, the characters in Angel harbor feelings towards each other that bend quite a ways away from love. Some of them not only dislike each other, they actively can’t stand one another. Trust isn’t a given, and they hit each other much more than they ever hug each other.
Yet the love and commitment within this group prevails. Despite Angel threatening to kill Wesley if he returned, Wesley still spends months searching the ocean for Angel. Angel still loves Connor while knowing that Connor wanted him to suffer for eternity. In the final season, the team still accepts Gunn after he makes a decision that results in Fred’s death. The acceptance of these crushing low points and the choice to love in spite of them is what separates Angel’s family from the rest. The past is never forgotten, and in many cases not even forgiven, but this only proves their strength as a unit. Despite the disastrous team they have made and despite the wedges that have driven them apart, they still stand together. If none of those horrible conflicts could tear these people apart, well, nothing can.
Audiences, myself included, watch these found family shows for escapism. We enter a blissful place where everyone is loved and conflict pushes people closer together instead of pulling them apart. Angel reminds us that’s not how real life works. Sometimes we make each other suffer.
By not pandering to our fantasy, Angel creates a refreshingly realistic portrayal of family and proves how powerful your own family unit can be even with all its imperfections, providing a better perspective on the families we have in real life. This is why Angel is the king of found family shows.
The final scene of the series shows four people, most of whom at some point have tried to kill each other, standing side by side in the rain. They aren’t a perfect unit and they aren’t about to become one being, proving how strong their bonds are. Instead, they are four flawed individuals with their own goals, own beliefs, own morals, and own reasons for being there, who still choose to stand side by side in the rain, ready to fight and die together.
If that’s not a family, I don’t know what it is.
Virgin River Season 2: Theories About Who Shot Jack in That Jaw-Dropping Cliffhanger
Virgin River season 2 ended on a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. For a quiet, scenic town, there’s sure a lot of danger lurking in those woods.
If you’ve watched the season finale, then you know that Jack’s life is hanging in the balance.
In the last few moments of the episode, Mel arrived at Jack’s bar and found him bleeding out from an apparent gunshot wound.
This begs the question: who shot Jack? And why?
There’s a few theories floating around on the internet, and we’ll get to those in a moment, but Martin Henderson, who plays Jack, told TV Line that he thinks the prime suspect isn’t the most obvious one. “I always joke that it’s most likely Charmaine. It does pop into your mind!”
Let’s break down some potential theories:
Charmaine is definitely one of the top suspects considering her big fight with Jack. Charmaine was pretty crazy throughout the season as she went through a series of mood swings. You just never knew what you were going to get with her. The pregnancy hormones likely played a role, but Charmaine’s been a pretty unstable character even before the pregnancy. And maybe after the constant back-and-forth with Jack, her jealousy over Mel, and finally realizing that they’d never be together romantically, she finally snapped. This wouldn’t be the first time Charmaine tried to “get revenge.” Let’s not forget she spread rumors about Mel being a home-wrecker and straight-up told Jack she wouldn’t allow him to be the father of their twins. We don’t know what a woman that’s been hurt is capable of. Hopefully, we’re all just misjudging Charmaine because I think if she can truly accept that Jack doesn’t love her in that way, they could make great co-parents. Otherwise, she’ll be in prison and Jack will be raising those babies with Mel!
Calvin and/or Jimmy.
Calvin (or one of his right-hand men like Jimmy) is the go-to suspect since he has plenty beef with Jack! It’s also the most obvious choice, so we have to consider if Virgin River is the kind of show that wants amp up the shock factor or take a more predictable route. The war with Calvin and Jack has been brewing for most of the second season with Jack meddling in his business and trying to stop him from expanding his fentanyl enterprise. We know Calvin isn’t above killing a man who has gotten in his way, but he’s also had plenty of chances to do it before. Why now? Maybe the LAPD shut down Calvin’s operation after Spencer testified and one of Calvin’s men acted out of loyalty since they knew Jack had a hand in it. Getting involved with Calvin, especially by trying to sabotage his business, is a recipe for danger and disaster.
Brady is also a potential suspect, but I just don’t see him going through it. Despite his fallout with Jack, he respects him. Not to mention, he went out of his way to help Spencer get out of town, which allowed him to testify against Calvin’s “lumber” business. Brady may have been motivated by money at first, but when he realized what was going on, he realized he had to do the right thing even if it meant going to prison. So, while Brady could’ve shot Jack because he botched up his investment, I just don’t see it panning out. And if it turns out to be him, color me shocked!
A Random Druggie Looking to Score?
We’ve seen our fair share of those in Virgin River this season, so maybe it wasn’t a planned shooting? Slim chances here, but you never know who might waltz into a bar in the middle of the night looking for trouble.
Again, super slim chances. Actually, the chances are nearly non-existent because Ricky is a good guy who has simply been struggling to make the right decisions because of his love for bad gal Lizzie. He may have exchanged some words with Jack previously, but there’s no chance he has it in him to shoot the guy who has given him a job and supported him!
Who do you think the culprit is? Hopefully, Netflix will renew the show for a third season soon so we can get #JusticeforJackSheridan!
What to Watch December 2020: ‘Selena: The Series,’ ‘Blue Bloods,’ ‘Shameless, ‘Sabrina’ and More!
The holidays are upon us and with that, some much-needed time to just sit back and relax with loved ones.
And there’s no better way to bond with others than by watching TV!
Here are all the exciting additions coming to primetime, cable, and streaming in December?
What are you adding to your binge-watch list?
SEAL Team – CBS (December 2)
Season 4 returns with a 2-hour season premiere with the team’s potential shakeup. Per the synopsis: “Bravo Team enters enemy territory in the snowy Spin Ghar Mountain Range to capture Al-Hazred, the leader of a terrorist group and son of the terrorist leader that Jason took down early in his career and made him Bravo One.”
Selena: The Series – Netflix (December 4)
The spirit of Selena Quintanilla comes to life in Netflix’s biopic starring Christian Serratos. Re-live the story of the Tejano music and iconic Mexican-American pop star. We interview Madison Taylor-Baez, who plays young Selena in the series. Check it out now.
The Hardy Boys – Hulu (December 4)
The Hardy Boys are back… and they’re on the case. To fill the Nancy-Drew sized void in your life, Hulu is rebooting the mystery series that will deliver action packed twists you didn’t see coming!
The Great British Baking Show: Holidays – Netflix (December 4)
There’s nothing like getting into the holiday spirit with some tasty treats. The third season of the baking competition finds former bakers competing in holiday-themed challenges.
MacGyver, Magnum P.I., and Blue Bloods – CBS (December 4)
The trio of veteran CBS dramas returns on the first Friday of the month for season 5, season 3, and season 11, respectively.
Shameless – Showtime (December 6)
The final season (season 11) is upon us. It’s time to say goodbye to the Gallagher family after nearly 10 years together.
Euphoria – HBO (December 6)
While this isn’t a second season announcement, HBO will air two special episodes bridging the gap between season 1 and 2, which has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Part 1: Rue pic.twitter.com/DZvGVZvBNz
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) November 26, 2020
Grinch the Musical – NBC (December 9)
Your heart might grow three sizes when you see Matthew Morrison take on the cynical creature in the theatrical event.
High School Musical: The Musical: Holiday Special – Disney+ (December 11)
Celebrate the holiday with the cast of HSMTMTS as they sing their favorite joyful songs and recall some holiday memories.
Bridgerton – Netflix (December 25)
Shondaland is here to give you your next obsession. Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix show following her transition from ABC is based on the popular best-selling book. It follows eight children of the late Viscount Bridgerton in Regency in the early 1800s England.
Letterkenny – Hulu (December 26)
The comedy sitcom about the residents of Letterkenny, a small community in Canada, returns for its ninth season!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Netflix (December 31)
It’s time to say goodbye to the Spellman clan, but not before one last hurrah. The fourth and final season of the Riverdale spinoff premieres on the final day of 2020. According to the synopsis,”The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale [and] the coven must fight each terrifying threat one-by-one (The Weird, The Returned, The Darkness to name a few), all leading up to… The Void, which is the End of All Things.
Godmothered – Disney+ (December 4)
Based on the trailer and the fact that Isla Fisher stars in the film, it’s giving me Enchanted vibes, which is a great thing. Jillian Bell stars as Eleanor, an inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training hoping to help Mackenzie Walsh (Fisher).
The Prom – Netflix (December 11)
Ryan Murphy return to the streaming giant with a musical, based on the critically acclaimed 2018 Broadway musical. It follows a star-studded cast (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, James Corden and Andrew Rannells) of Broadway stars who visit a small-town in Indiana to help a high school girl named Emma attend to prom with her girlfriend.
The Midnight Sky – Netflix (December 23)
Times are bleak, but this post-apocalyptic space thriller hopes that you’ll indulge anyway. It follows George Clooney’s Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, hoping to contact astronauts to warn them against returning home tp Earth, where a mysterious catastrophe has taken place. Meanwhile, the astronauts, led by Felicity Jones, wonder why contact with Mission Control has seized.
Soul – Disney+ (December 25)
The highly-anticipated Pixar film arrives as a treat from Santa. After its theatrical release was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, the film will hit the streaming service with its star-studded cast of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, and Graham Norton.
5 Biggest Moments from ‘Virgin River’ Season 2
Netflix dropped Virgin River Season 2 as a Black Friday gift for fans, and there’s so much to unpack!
You can read all of our episodic reviews here.
Or, check out the 5 biggest moments from the 10-episode season below:
1. An Accidental Death
After her abusive ex comes to town, Paige is terrified for her and Christopher’s safety, especially since he punished her for running away. He tells Paige to pack up their things, but when she refuses, the two get into a tussle and she accidentally pushes him down the stairs. Since Wes, a decorated cop, made it so that Paige would never be able to win in court, she knows that “self-defense” won’t hold up. Preacher helps her skip town and takes care of the body. Connie puts two-and-two together when she learns that Wes is an official missing person. As someone who lost her mother to an abusive father, she vows to help Preacher come up with a solid alibi in case they find the body. Preacher refuses, and when he learns that Wes’ partner turned on him and there’s no a warrant for his arrest, he thinks his problems are over. That is until he sees Wes show up at his bar. Turns out, it’s his identical twin brother, Vince, who is hellbent on getting revenge.
Charmaine’s high-risk pregnancy poses problems for Jack, who does not want to be with her romantically. This is only intensified when Mel confirms that Charmaine is pregnant with twins. Charmaine goes out of her way to get Jack to fall in love with her, but when she realizes that it’s never going to happen, she punishes him by telling him that she’s going to get married one day and that man is going to be the father of her babies and not Jack.
3. An Engagement
After a whole season of sneaking around and trying to get it right, Doc finally proposes to Hope, who initially turns him down because she thinks he was sneaking around with another woman, Muriel. When Doc reveals that Muriel helped put him in touch with a vintage jeweler to reset Hope’s ring, she says “yes,” and agrees to have a vow ceremony and reception. Doc then decides to tell Hope about his illness, but before he gets to tell her what’s troubling him, they’re surprised by an engagement party.
4. Brady’s Mess with Calvin
After getting fired from Jack’s, Brady picks up a job working for Calvin. He immediately realizes that something shady is going on, but the idea of making a lot of money entices him. That is until Calvin tasks him with shooting Spencer, one of his men who was trying to rat him out to Jack. Brady pretends to shoot Spencer, but instead, helps him and his family get out of town so that Spencer can testify against Calvin to bring down the whole operation.
5. Jack, can you hear me?
Calvin warned Jack not to get involved in his business. When he felt like Jack was overstepping, he sabotaged his bar and got dozens of customers sick. While it’s unclear who shot Jack, it’s believed that it was either one of Calvin’s men after Mel paid a visit to Emerald Lumber to talk to Brady. Mel had just opened up to the idea of pursuing a relationship with Jack after pushing back for months because of her fear of getting hurt again. She wanted to prove that Brady didn’t kill Spencer to ease Jack’s conscience, but she may have ended up making things worse. That is unless someone else is to blame for the shooting.
All of this means that we need season 3 of Virgin River now more than ever!
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