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Angel the Series: Why The Series is The King of Found Family Shows

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Spoilers for the entirety of “Angel the Series” below

Angel the Series

Angel the Series Season 5

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.

Cheers/NBC Universal

Cheers NBC Universal

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.

Angel

Angel Season 1 “The Ring”

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.

Angel

Angel Season 5 “Power Play”

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.

Angel

Angel Season 4 “Deep Down”

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.

Angel

Angel Season 4 “Soulless”

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.

Angel

Angel Season Five “Not Fade Away”

If that’s not a family, I don’t know what it is.


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Editorials

25 Shows You Need to Watch If You Love the City of Chicago

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Chicago PD Chicago Fire #ONeChicago crossover

With a population of over 2.7 million, Chicago is a dynamic and diverse city, which makes it the perfect backdrop for many TV shows, especially cop and medical dramas! 

Some shows use the city as just a setting, while others dig right into the core of the city, hoping to capture its essence. 

No one series has a “correct” depiction — they are all stories seen through various characters, experiencing different situations in the many, versatile neighborhoods. 

But, one thing that they all have in common? An undying love for the city; their Chicago. If you’ve been to Chicago you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Chicago is the new Hollywood.”

Truthfully, Chicago will never churn out as many TV shows as Hollywood, and it doesn’t want to; the rise in shows signifies everyone can find something to relate to in the city of Chicago. 

So, if you have even a sliver of love for Chi-town, you have to check out these shows. Let us know if you have any other recommendations! 

1. Shameless

Shameless
The remake of the British series uses Chicago as a backdrop for the uber-dysfunctional Gallagher family. Frank Gallagher is a single father of six and a drunk who spends more time at bars than with his children. In their parents’ absence, the eldest kids are forced to take on the responsibilities and raise themselves. Particularly, Fiona who tries her best to hold the family together.
 

2. Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire is the firstborn from Mr. NBC himself, Dick Wolf. Wolf captivated audiences with the rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51 — specifically dreamy Leuitenant Kelly Severide. Aside from the bravery of the diverse team — who cohesively charge headfirst into danger to save the people of Chicago — the show entices with authentic relationships. The city not only serves as a backdrop, it’s a leading character with writers showcasing the best and worst of the city and its inhabitants.
 

3. Chicago PD

Chicago PD
The success of Chicago Fire convinced Wolf that Chicago was the perfect city for a franchise. And so Chicago PD was born. Now, this isn’t your average cop show. Nu-uh, not in Chicago. There are a lot of great things about this city but it’s undeniably also one of the most politically corrupt. Or as President Donald Trump has said on several occasions, a crime “epidemic” and “total disaster.” This makes it the perfect setting for a show spearheaded by suspected dirty cop Hank Voight, who uses questionable methods to get justice yet garners much loyalty and respect from his team. Intelligence handles the toughest cases in the Chi, including those of gang violence, drugs and racial injustice — they’ve seen it all.

 

4. Chicago Med

Chicago Med
Where there’s fire and PD, there’s also med. Continuing down the list of Dick Wolf shows, we’ve got the third installment, a medical drama with a cast as diverse as the neighborhoods in Chicago. Despite the lack of funding, Sharon Goodwin and the team work together to provide quality healthcare to their patients. Staying in the theme of the city, there are plenty of gun-shot wound victims, and a handful of homeless and drug-addicted patients, which often calls for psych consults from the renowned Dr. Charles. With three successful shows dominating NBC, there are plenty of opportunities for some gripping crossovers.
 

5. Chicago Justice

Chicago Justice
Three time’s a charm but four is an overstay. Wolf tried for a fourth show in the “Chicago” franchise, but fans simply didn’t bite on Chicago Justice. Although it lasted a mere season, it definitely made an impact. If you’re a fan of any of the three shows, or Wolf’s other cult-hit Law & Order, it’s a must watch. PD’s Antonio even joins the no-fuss team led by Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone, who is described as relentless in his quest for justice. There’s also a L&O connection with Stone being the son of New York City District Attorney Ben Stone.

6. Empire

Empire
Scandalous, messy, gifted — that’s Empire. Former hip-hop artist and CEO of Lyon Enterprises Luscious Lyon finds out that he’s plagued by an incurable health ailment and is forced to choose a successor. The drawback? All three of his sons have their equal share of talents and shortcomings. His over-the-top and ferocious ex-wife Cookie Lyon is released from prison and poses a problem when she comes to get what’s hers after taking the fall for his drug dealings back in the day. Even though the series films in Chicago, they pretend it’s New York. Usually, I’d be ruffled by that, however, Empire’s production opened up the doors for Chicago to become a sort of second-hand Hollywood, which aspiring actors in Chicago have been thankful for. If you look closely at various scenes, you’ll see our beautiful skyline dubbing in for NY’s.
 

7. Mike & Molly

Mike & Molly
Helmed by local Chicagoan and funny-gal Melissa McCarthy, the series finds her character Molly falling for Mike, a Chicago police officer she meets at Overeaters Anonymous. There’s nothing better than bonding over a few slices of pie! Together, they become each other’s support system as they embark on their journey to lose weight. Did I mention they’re Cubs fans? Bonus!
 

8. Married… with Children

Married... with Children
Much like Mike & Molly, some shows don’t give Chicago the acknowledgment it deserves. The cast of Married… with Children live in Chicago but they rarely showcase the city. Still, we’ll take all the love we can get, even if it’s just a mention here and there. The Bundy’s were “not the Cosby’s.” In other words: a dysfunctional family living in a fake suburban town of Chicago in the 80s/90s. Al Bundy, once the hottest football player in school, is a miserable shoe salesman while his wife, Peggy Bundy, once the hottest girl in the school is an unmotivated TV junkie. The “children” are ditzy and promiscuous Kelly and dysfunctional, yet brainy, son Bud. Props for making Buckingham Fountain so synonymous with the theme song!
 

9. Prison Break

Prison Break
Lincoln Burrows is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and put on Death Row. His brother Michael Scolfield makes it his mission to help him break out of prison. His desire sets into motion several nearly-impossible plans, including one that involves him deliberately getting locked up in the Chicago-based prison to help from the inside. If you’re into shows that get your blood pumping while also focusing on the unbreakable bond between brothers, this is for you!

10. The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones
The single-camera workplace comedy is bittersweet because it’s Robin Williams’ final role before his untimely death. In the single-season series, Williams’ outlandish and personality-driven character Simon Roberts shines a light on the advertising world in Chicago. Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Sarah Michelle Geller serves as his right-hand gal in the role of ambitious partner and Type-A daughter, Sydney Roberts.
 

11. Sirens

Sirens
Most medical shows focus solely on the professional lives of doctors, but this medical comedy follows three Chicago EMT’s and the hilarity that ensues both at work and in their personal lives. During its two-season run, the series remembered to tackle serious issues of sexuality, mental disorders, etc. while never forgetting to offer up a much-needed laugh.

12. Superior Donuts

Superior Donuts
A gentrifying Chicago neighborhood gets the spotlight on Superior Donuts. Nothing brings people together like donuts, also a popular staple in the Windy City. Donut shop owner Arthur is a Chicago-native who is “stuck in his ways” and doesn’t want to update the menu in fear of ruining a good thing. Things immediately change when Franco gets a job at the shop and convinces him that modernization isn’t always bad. What is bad? Fawz, a real-estate capitalist who desperately wants Arthur to sell the business.
 

13. Ozark

While the Byrde family swaps the hustle and bustle of Chicago for Lake of the Ozarks, the city is still featured heavily as the backdrop for many scenes. Marty spends time in Millennium Park, though, it’s unrealistic to see the streets without any traffic! 
 
 

See the full list at TV Fanatic.


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Editorials

Seeing Double: 21 Memorable TV Show Twins

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Best Twins on Television

Hollywood has a bit of twin obsession but sometimes, seeing double isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

Twins on TV shows is a pretty popular trope ranging from evil twins, twins who get into shenanigans together, and long lost twins who bump into each other and start a new life together.

Other times, twins are used solely as a plot device.

But really, there’s no shortage of switcheroo tomfoolery when twins are involved. 

Sometimes, the actors are famous twin duos in real life, and other times, a sole actor is brilliantly pulling double duty.

Let’s take a look back at some of our favorite TV twins both fraternal and identical. 

You may even come across a few doppelgangers. 

1. Cheryl and Jason Blossom – Riverdale

Cheryl and Jason Blossom - Riverdale
Although Riverdale kicked off with Jason Blossom’s death, the red-headed athlete was very much a part of what molded Cheryl Blossom. She loved her twin, sometimes a little too much as we saw their twisted and possibly incestual relationship play out through many flashbacks. Jason becomes Cheryl’s motivation for most of Riverdale Season 1 as she mourns his death.
 

2. Zack and Cody – Suite Life of Zack & Cody

Zack and Cody - Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Zack & Cody were ‘the’ twins on the Disney Channel from 2005-2008. The wild brothers lived the “suite life” at the Tipton Hotel in Boston. Honestly, who didn’t want to live in a hotel after watching this series? Zack & Cody had their differences — one was studious ‘nerd’ while the other was a playful trouble maker — but they never ran out of adventures to pursue.
 
Tia and Tamera - Sister, Sister
Finding out you have a long-lost sister? Awesome. Finding out that you have a long-lost twin? Ten times more awesome. Tia and Tamera were polar opposites; Tia was the smart, honest and mature one while Tamera was funny, highly impulsive and always getting into trouble. But even though they disagreed, they were always there for each other and shared a wicked twin instinct.
 

4. Olive and Cal – Manifest

Olive and Cal - Manifest
After the disappearance of Flight 828, Cal loses five years on his twin sister Olive. Though their twin bond isn’t broken, the age gap does take a toll on their relationship, and sometimes, it becomes hard to accept for Cal who feels like he lost his best friend.
 

5. Brenda and Brandon – 90210

Brenda and Brandon - 90210
Brenda and Brandon Walsh experience a culture shock after moving from Minnesota to the glamorous Beverly Hills neighborhood in LA. Everyone had a fondness for Brandon, even his twin who once said he was her best friend. Their bond only strengthens as the series progresses becoming the most enduring friendship.

6. Petra and Anezka – Jane the Virgin

Petra and Anezka - Jane the Virgin
In a classic telenovela twist, Petra finds out she has a long lost twin sister, Anezka, who has lived her whole life in a Czech orphanage. Anezka isn’t chic like Petra; she’s clumsy, jumpy and eager to please people, especially Petra. Eventually, she ends up terrorizing her life by poisoning her and assuming her identity. You know, normal twin stuff.
 

7. Michael and Lindsay – Arrested Development

Michael and Lindsay - Arrested Development
Lindsay may have been adopted at the age of three, but for most of her life, she believed that Michael was her fraternal twin so they’ve earned a spot in this slideshow. Michael places family above everything else works strives to keep them together while Lindsay is rebellious with a jaded personality and a flair for the superficial. Out of all the Bluth’s she’s closest with Michael.
 

8. Nicky and Alex – Full House

Nicky and Alex - Full House
When I say Full House twins, everyone automatically assumes I’m referring to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. But while the twins took turns playing the adorable Michelle Tanner, the character herself wasn’t a twin (‘Michelle Rides Again’ doesn’t count). However, the show did have twin boys, Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky’s bowl-haired boys, Nicky and Alex. In the Netflix reboot, Fuller House, the dudes make an appearance before embarking to follow their dreams of opening a food truck.
 

9. Phoebe and Ursula – Friends

Phoebe and Ursula - Friends
Unlike the zany and creative Phoebe, her twin Ursula, who first appeared on Mad About You, was an evil pornstar. While Phoebe loved everyone, Ursula only loved herself. They couldn’t be more different, and that’s why they never really had a relationship. It probably didn’t help that she dated Joey whom Phoebe considered part of her “real family.”

10. Sarah and Helena – Orphan Black

Sarah and Helena - Orphan Black
Sarah and her daughter, Kira, are sought after by the Dyad institute because she and her twin sis, Helena, are the only clones capable of reproducing with Kira being the first offspring of one of the clones. Sarah wants a better life for them, and when she sees Beth’s suicide, she steals Beth’s identity, along with her money and boyfriend. But she soon learns Beth was embroiled in a deadly police conspiracy making her the newest target.
 

11. Josie and Lizzie – Legacies

Josie and Lizzie - Legacies
Josie and Lizzie are twin daughters of Alaric Saltzman and Josette Laughlin. When Josette was killed by her evil brother Kai, Lizzie and Josie were magically transferred into Caroline Forbes via the Gemini Coven and she became their mother. Josie is very much like her real mother — level-headed, brilliant and caring. Lizzie, on the other hand, is a typical high school mean girl with rage burning inside of her that causes moods swings and powers that are harmful to others. Josie protects her sister and keeps her grounded, but Lizzie abuses that kindness forcing Josie to always be “second best.”
 

Read the full list at TV Fanatic! 


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Halloween

I Put a Spell on You – All the ‘Hocus Pocus’ Merch You Need This Halloween

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Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween

You don’t need to put a spell on me for all these Hocus Pocus-inspired items to be miiiine!

Hocus Pocus may have premiered 27 years ago, but the witchy Sanderson sisters still reign supreme.

The cultish hit remains one of the most iconic films in existence and is a must watch every Halloween season.

Best of all, it inspires new merchandise every year. 

We’ve gathered all of the items you’re going to need to celebrate Halloween 2020 the right way just like the “sistah’s” Winnie, Sarah, and Mary! 

 

Hocus Pocus Board Game

Ravensburger’s board game, “Hocus Pocus: The Game” allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a virgin who lights the black flame candle and summons the Sanderson sister. The packaging looks like a spell book and requires you to stop the witches from completing a potion before sunrise. It’s a game that actually makes sense in the context of the film — how refreshing! Get it at Target for 19.99

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDX9XT7j4IZ/

 

Face Masks

There are some people who think COVID is all a bunch of hocus pocus, but the reality of the situation is that you have to do your part by wearing a mask and helping curb the spread. And why not do it in style this fall season with face masks inspired by the movie? The internet has plenty to choose from, but our favorite is the one that allows you to channel your inner-Sanderson sister! The masks, made by Bucktee, retail for $13.95, and allow you to wear Winnie’s mug, Sarah’s smile, or Mary’s signature lip bite. You’ll have people screaming “Amok! Amok! Amok!”

Bucktee

 

Spirit Jersey

As I mentioned previously, the movie is turning 27 so ShopDisney released a new spirit jersey that’s ombre green — the color of any promising potion — and features the logo in the front and a cartoon version of the sisters in the back! The jersey is “coming soon,” so get ready for a fall arrival! 

 
 

Billy’s Funko Pop

The Sanderson sister’s get all the love, but Billy was the true hero and the most underrated character! For those who maybe need to rewatch the movie this season again, Billy Butcherson was Winifred’s ex-bf who turns on the witches and helps the teens! 
 
You can get it exclusively at Spirit Halloween for $12.99
 

 

Nestle Cookie Dough

I smell…. children. No, wait, that’s actually Nestle Toll House Hocus Pocus-themed cookie dough! Yes, it’s a thing. The oatmeal peanut butter flavored cookie dough will be released early this fall. 

If you’re not a fan of cookie dough, buy it for someone who is a fan because the packaging, which features the trio of sisters eyeing the delicious snack, is to die for. 

 

Mantel Scarf

Turn your home into the Sanderson house! Everyone knows that the best part about Halloween is dressing up your space with spooktastic decorations. Spirit Halloween is selling a light-up Hocus Pocus mantel scarf that will give your space a witchy vibe.

It features the Sanderson sisters flying over Salem amongst the trees of LED lights. 

Spirit Halloween

 

Cauldron Mug

You can cast a spell in no time with the tie-dye fluorescent mug that features one of the film’s most iconic lines: it’s all a bunch of hocus pocus. The cup is shaped like a cauldron with a “wooden” stirring spoon. What are you waiting for? Grab your potions book and grab a spot in line because *for now* this mug is sold out at ShopDisney.

ShopDisney

ShopDisney

 

Wine Glasses

Fill ’em up with a potion that keeps you happy and young! Spirit Halloween has several fun and Hocus Pocus-themed wine glasses, but our favorite is definitely the one featuring the quote: “Goodbye cruel world.” That about sums up 2020. You can get the wine glasses for $9! 

Spirit Halloween


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