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.
The 2021 Emmy’s: A Night Dominated by the same Rotating Nominees: ‘The Crown,’ ‘Mare of Easttown,’ and ‘Ted Lasso’
The 2021 Emmy’s returned in a limited capacity with an attendee count of around 500 compared to its typical several thousand, while also managing to keep its winners capped to the same rotating titles: The Crown, Mare of Easttown, and Ted Lasso.
It was a successfully smooth event with predictable winners, among some important victories for people of color.
Opening the award show paying homage to Biz Markie, Cedric the Entertainer sang and rapped a remix of “Just A Friend” with cameras panning to guests in the audience who contributed their own lines and melodies.
The comedy category was easily dominated by Ted Lasso while dramas were split between The Crown and Mare of Easttown, with the former edging out the latter with nearly double the wins.
Regardless of Cedric the Entertainer’s initial praise about the number of Black nominees, it felt like a shout into the void as many of the categories were still dominated by white actors, writers, and directors.
But, Michaela Coel’s win for her brave and empowering drama, I May Destroy You, was a win that needed to happen, not only for the Black community but also for sexual assault survivors.
“Write the tales that scare you, that make you feel uncertain that isn’t comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence,” Coel said.
In another triumph of the night, Debbie Allen (Fame and Grey’s Anatomy) took home the Governor’s Award. Celebrated for her perseverance during her early career as a Black dancer discriminated against due to the color of her skin, it was a deliberate step forward made by The Academy.
Interspersed throughout the evening was a handful of references and jokes about COVID and its impact on television. And in a seamless split, many of the British show nominees including Gillian Anderson and Olivia Colman accepted their awards in London in a separate Emmy’s party.
Later on, Leon Bridges performed a special tribute to those in the industry that passed away during the last year. Some of which include Larry King, Alex Trebek, and Michael K. Williams.
In a highly anticipated award for the final victor of the night for a limited series, it was awarded to Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, in a surprising win over Mare of Easttown.
In a year where TV continued to shine, despite COVID’s impact on the world of entertainment, the 2021 Emmy Awards didn’t realistically honor the amount of amazing content that was put out. Instead, it relied on the crutches of the four or five repeated nominees: The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Mare of Easttown, Ted Lasso, and Wandavision.
How Will ‘The Resident’ Write Off Nic?
The halls of Chastain will see quite a shift when The Resident returns for its fifth season.
Emily Van Camp, who plays the beloved nurse practitioner Nic Nevins, is scrubbing out after four seasons on the FOX medical drama.
While it isn’t unheard of for an actress to leave a show, the timing is unfortunate from a storytelling perspective considering Nic and Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) recently got married and welcomed a baby girl.
In real life, Van Camp also welcomed a baby girl with husband Josh Bowman, so she obviously has to do what’s best for her and her family. We also have to assume that the struggles of working during a pandemic impacted her decision, as did her potentially expanded role in the Marvel universe.
But there’s absolutely no denying that it’s a huge bummer for fans of the series, many of whom only tune in because of their attachment to the couple affectionately dubbed #CoNic.
We’ve seen the couple go through their fair share of ups and downs, but the fact that the writers chose to introduce a baby means they likely thought she was coming back for the upcoming season and had more a happier storyline in the works.
While I have ultimate faith in the writers, it’s understandable that fans are worried about how her departure will be addressed.
Nic is a crucial part of the show; some might argue that she’s the glue that holds everything together.
Her exit must be handled with the utmost care and respect in order to preserve the integrity of the character.
Since her character is a dedicated wife and mother, it’s unproductive to mess with the relationship by introducing a cheating storyline or a new job since it isn’t believable.
We know Nic would never prioritize anything over her new family, not even a new gig. Even suggesting that as an alternative dishonors the kindhearted character Van Camp has built.
So, this is where it gets concerning.
All signs and breadcrumbs point to Nic not surviving the premiere.
There are a few indications that the writers are going to kill her off and pursue the “Conrad is a heartbroken and widowed single father to baby Gigi” storyline.
The official season 5 poster pointed to tragedy as Conrad was seen alone in a defeated stance. His back was turned to the camera and the words “healing stars within” were written on top.
We think this will hurt us more than heal us, but we're always in.
— The Resident (@ResidentFOX) August 5, 2021
A follow-up trailer titled “Everything Will Change” opens with an ominous montage of CoNic’s happiest moments. It then shows Conrad standing alone in his daughter’s nursery before cops come to his door to deliver some news. Since it’s never a good sign when cops show up at your house in the middle of the night, many fans to theorized that Nic was involved in a tragic accident.
The gossip Instagram account, Deuxmoi, seemingly confirmed that theory via an anonymous tip.
“I can 10,000 percent confirm she’s leaving The Resident early in the upcoming season, but her character will die in a car accident,” a source told the account, though, these can be hit or miss so take it with a grain of salt!
It’s a frustrating approach considering Nic just survived a stabbing along with pregnancy complications last season, but it’s really the only way to handle it while keeping the character intact.
It also presents plenty growth opportunities for Conrad’s character.
Much like the fans (and probably, the writers), he never anticipated that he’d be a single father, but life threw him a curveball and now he has to step up to raise his daughter, likely with the help of his friends at Chastain.
And while we typically see the plight of working mothers, this would offer the series a chance to dig into the hardships of balancing a thriving career in the medical field while also being a present father.
The only other option on the table is that the accident causes Nic to go into a lengthy coma, which would also leave the door open for any potential guest appearances from Van Camp should she so choose to be involved.
The latter would allow for the character to come back, while also allowing the writers to explain her off-screen existence with a storyline about how she gave up her career to stay at home with Gigi in the aftermath of the accident.
However, Elkoff seemingly confirmed that Conrad will be a single father to TV Line, noting: “He’s really good at it. He’s just going to be the best dad you can imagine.”
He also explained that the season will pick up with a nine-month time jump, which explains why Gigi is so big in the promos already.
FOX entertainment president Michael Thorn told Deadline that it will be an emotional departure.
“The audience is going to be surprised and emotionally engaged with how we handle Emily’s departure and the way that it affects all of the other characters,” he said. “And yes, we will be introducing some new characters as we go along, but I think it’s going to be another excellent season. Amy Holden Jones does an incredible job,” he added.
While everyone involved with the series is staying mum on how Van Camp will be written off, they are convinced that fans won’t be disappointed by what they are calling a “potentially game-changing, development.”
In the wake of her exit (along with the exit of Shaunette Renee as Mina last season and Morris Chestnut as Barrett Cain), the series is also adding new cast members to fill the void and ensure the upcoming season has a robust ensemble.
Miles Fowler will join the medical drama as Billie Sutton’s (Jessica Lucas) estranged son, Trevor. If you’ll recall, Billie opened up to bestie Nic about being raped at 13-years-old and giving up the baby for adoption. While she didn’t want to meet her son, he’s been reaching out hoping to get to know his birth mom.
Regardless of how the series tackles this unexpected cast shake-up, be prepared for an emotional journey ahead.
The fifth season returns on Tuesday, September 21st at 8 pm ET/PT on Fox.
You can catch up on all of our The Resident reviews HERE!
‘The Chair’ Review: A Humorous Commentary on the World of Academia
An entire show focused on a dilapidating university English department had the very real potential of being extremely boring and niche with its heavy ode to literature. However, Netflix’s original series The Chair, starring the fabulous Sandra Oh, is a humorous commentary on the world of academia, cancel culture, ageism, sexism, and transracial adoption.
The bulk of the humor rests on the shoulders of Ji-Yoon (Oh) and Joan (Holland Taylor) the only women in the department alongside Yaz (Nana Mensah). Ji-Yoon is the first woman department head to take the position just as enrollment is crumbling by 30%.
What’s meant to be a momentous moment in her career turns into a shit show when she’s tasked with putting out daily dumpster fires.
In the short six episodes, we’re quickly introduced to the complicated lives of Ji-Yoon and her colleague/lover Bill Dobson, one of the younger professors who’s under intense scrutiny for making an insensitive and ignorant reference to nazis.
There’s a strong balance between personal and professional lives as the underlying tension displayed immediately between Bill and Ji-Yoon ignites a budding romance, amid the dean’s increasing pressure for Ji-Yoon to let Bill go.
Ji-Yoon’s a powerful woman who isn’t afraid to stand up against university systems that oppress women and women of color. And despite her ability to properly handle her work life, her home life seems to be teetering.
Her daughter Juju is a spitfire who is ready to speak her mind at any moment. Whether to diss her halbi, cross personal boundaries scaring off babysitters, and telling Ji-Yoon how she feels about her transracial adoption.
The real dynamic duo is Juju and Bill. As Bill’s healing from the loss of his wife and empty-nesting after sending his daughter off to college, he finds comfort in taking care of Juju while he’s on suspension.
Juju’s lack of connection with Ji-Yoon is saddening, as it stems from Ji-Yoon’s absence due to her tireless job. However, by the end of the season, the growth between mom and daughter is emotionally beautiful.
Yes, I shed a few tears.
The decision to use an English department as a commentary vessel is ingenious. Historically, academia is full of jaded tenured professors who are generationally out of touch. But, an English department is stereotypically overrun with crotchety old pretentious men.
Some of whom are definitely ready for retirement.
Yaz is a Black professor whose class has quickly become the most popular in the English department. With her classes yielding the most students, this causes jealousy among the other educators, putting her tenure track in harm’s way.
When she’s denied the distinguished lectureship and begins to feel helpless as a woman of color at Pembroke, she considers taking an offer from Yale. However, Ji-Yoon’s desperation to rebuild the department full of diverse women convinces Yaz to stay.
Yaz’s character doesn’t receive as much screentime as she deserves. Most of the attention is placed on Dobs and the rest of the professors fighting desperately to hold onto their power.
Furthering the theme of sexism, Joan’s office is displaced in the basement underneath the gym. As a professor who’s been with the university just as long as her male counterparts, she finds her situation outrageous and greatly sexist.
Yet, by the season finale, after Ji-Yoon’s been ousted as the head of the department, she strategically chooses Joan to replace her. This feels like a win for the women and especially Ji-Yoon, as her vision of change continues.
While there hasn’t been any official word about a second season, Season 1 paved the path for deeper topics to be pursued. Especially the romance between Ji-Yoon and Bill. So I can’t imagine the show won’t receive another green light.
If you’re someone who shutters at the idea of being immersed in the academic sphere even fictionally, don’t worry. The Chair is a show you can enjoy on the pure basis of humor and emotional family drama. And of course Sandra Oh!
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