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.
6 Sexy Shows to Watch for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day can be celebrated in all sorts of different ways.
Some people bake cookies, others go out for a romantic date, while some do a fun activity with their significant other.
However, this is the first Valentine’s Day under COVID-19 restrictions, which means that you likely don’t have as many fun and romance-filled options as in years prior.
That’s where TV comes in! Regardless if you’re spending February 14 with a significant other or your besties, these are some of the sexiest and steamiest shows to watch on the day that’s all about celebrating L-O-V-E (for friends, family, significant others, and, most importantly, yourself!)
Romance, scandal, drama… Bridgerton has it all! Dubbed the Regency-era Gossip Girl, Netflix’s smash hit and most-watched series is a brilliant and entertaining period piece with enough sex scenes to make you blush. And Regé-Jean Page isn’t bad on the eyes.
Emily in Paris
Emily in Paris, which was just surprisingly nominated for a Golden Globe, hails from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. It’s an airy flick about a millennial named Emily who travels to Paris for a dream job and becomes enamored with the City of Love and the men that want to show her all that it has to offer.
Falling in love requires you to be open, honest, and vulnerable. The American rom-com anthology web series, based on a weekly column published by the New York Times, explores themes of love (romantic, platonic, friendly) with a star-studded cast. The 30-minute episodes are standalone and easily digestible, which makes them the perfect viewing on a night like Valentine’s Day.
What happens when Liza, a 40-year-old single mom, decides to be 26-years old in order to re-enter the working world and falls in love with not one but two very different men? An exciting journey through the world of publishing and heartbreak. As Liza tries to find herself, she does everything in her power to hide her true self from those she’s become most intimate with. It’s another whip-smart Darren Star creation!
Two sisters, Beth and Annie, along with best friend Ruby find themselves embroiled in a dangerous life of crime after robbing a grocery store. Beth, specifically, falls victim to a crime of passion with one sexy “gang friend” that pulls her further and further into his world.
If Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars had a baby, it would be this Spanish-language drama. A private school becomes the scene of a murder after a clash between the rich and poor students. There’s plenty of sexual tension and unexpected turns as detectives try to narrow down the list of suspects.
** Article originally published in February 2021**
Is Bruce Greenwood Leaving ‘The Resident’?
After The Resident Season 6 Episode 9, many fans have been wondering if Bruce Greenwood, who plays Dr. Randolph Bell, is exiting the FOX medical drama.
While there has been no official word about a potential exit, it’s a fair question to ask considering the nature of his most recent storyline.
In the latest episode—which aired on November 29—Bell, who found himself as the target of Governor Betz’s smear campaign, finally admitted to himself, and to his wife, Dr. Kitt Voss, that his MS is progressing.
After Bell exposed Betz’s corruption while trying to secure funding for Chastain, Betz decided that the only way to teach him a lesson and make an example out of him was through revenge. Betz ordered a hit piece on Bell that painted him as a dangerous doctor to Chastain, which, in turn, tainted the hospital’s image.
Of course, while some parts of it were true at one point in Bell’s career, it was largely exaggerated and sensationalized to paint him in a bad light, and it didn’t take into account all the work Bell has done to become a better man and doctor.
The stress of all the negative press caused Bell’s MS to flare up, triggering a variety of symptoms like a high-pitched ringing in his ears, seeing double, and dizziness, which made him realize that he was pushing off the inevitable.
This time around, instead of operating when he shouldn’t, he acknowledged that he no longer felt confident in his abilities, nor did he trust himself to perform any future surgeries. When he told Kit that he needed to go back to the clinical trial, it was a shock, but ultimately, she was supportive because she knew that’s what he needed.
But what now? How will The Resident keep incorporating Bell’s character into the storyline? Will we just see him communicating with Kit from the trial in the same way we did earlier this season? Or will he slowly get phased out and written off?
The trial could prove to be successful again, and all of Bell’s worries could have been for nothing. After he prioritizes his health and the whole thing with Betz blows over, it’s possible we could see Bell return to surgery for many more years—back to his previous glory.
Losing Greenwood would be a huge blow to the series, especially since he’s been part of the series since its inception, however, it remains unclear which direction The Resident will go with this storyline.
Hopefully, we’ll find out in the upcoming season 6 finale, which is set to air on December 6, but as of right now, there’s no indication that Greenwood is exiting the drama.
Madelaine Petsch’s ‘Hotel for the Holidays’ Is a Gem Among Cliché Films
There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, which is why it’s important to make the right choice this holiday season. After all, no one has the time to waste over two+ hours on a bad movie.
At the top of your list should be Hotel for the Holidays, a rom-com that offers a refreshing take on a festive genre that oftentimes lacks creativity simply because the forces behind the scenes know it will make money regardless as everyone longs for a slice of familiarity and comfort around the holidays.
There’s plenty of Christmas magic (it must’ve slipped through the cracks) in Hotel for the Holidays, and it sneaks up on you—and Madelaine Petsch’s character, Georgia—in the best possible way. It’s Amazon Freevee’s first original holiday flick, and hopefully, not the last.
The plot is rather simple on the surface, but it isn’t predictable as with other holiday rom-coms.
Here’s the gist: Georgia is a young and ambitious hotel manager at the historic Hotel Fontaine (it gives The Plaza Hotel vibes from Home Alone 2), which attracts an eclectic bunch of guests, including some heartbroken singles, an infamous popstar, a European ex-prince looking for a taste of the real world, and more. They all arrive in New York City for the holidays looking for an escape from the norm, and Georgia is determined to give it to them. However, she also has her own plans and goals that get her into a bit of a love triangle with the hotel’s chef, Luke (Mesa Massoud from the live-action Aladdin), and the ex-prince, Raymond (Max Lloyd Jones from Book of Boba Fett). It also stars Kayleigh Shikanai (American Gods) as Pandora, Jami Belushi (According to Jim) as Kiki, Neil Crone (It) as Milton, and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Florence.
Pretty early into the film, it’s obvious how Georgia’s romantic life will resolve itself, which allows the film to dig into other captivating subplots that are positively unexpected. Unlike other holiday films, Georgia values herself beyond a romantic partner, which, right off the bat, is a breath of fresh air.
The supporting cast plays an integral part in the film, right down to the chef’s best friend/fellow chef and the janitorial staff. They may not be the sole focus of the series, but the team behind the rom-com found a way to involve them in a way that’s natural and easy to keep up with. Pretty soon, you find yourself rooting for the happiness of everyone at Hotel Fontaine—the staff and the guests.
The acting is also great. It’s just the right amount of feel-good so it never feels forced, nor do the character’s choices seem questionable. It’s all believable within the world they’ve created, aside from the scene where they are dining on a rooftop in the dead of a New York City winter without jackets or even sweaters. How are they not cold? As for the few over-the-top performances and characters, well, they also work—the prince’s bodyguard (AJ Zoldy) is a delight.
If I’m being perfectly honest, the magical thing about the film is that it’s a love letter to the community of people you surround yourself with: your found family.
The film doesn’t just settle for telling a story about two people who finally admit that they love each other because that’s tired and expected. Instead, it recognizes that romance comes in all shapes and sizes—in romantic partners, in co-workers, in friends, and even in new acquaintances that pass through your life for a brief moment (or stay awhile).
The storylines come together seamlessly, and the themes of belonging and acceptance—in addition to staying true to yourself, finding the inspiration to pursue your goals and ambitions, and acknowledging that it’s ok to move and find happiness on your own terms, even if it doesn’t always please everyone—help the film stand out among the other cliche seasonal offerings.
Most importantly, Petsch shines… and it’s so deserved. The film allows her to show off her range of acting chops that, sadly, get stifled on Riverdale. The CW series may have been her mainstream big break, but it stopped working in her favor a long time ago, so it’s exciting to see her take on new projects and characters.
Of all the Christmas films that I’ve seen in 2022 thus far, Hotel for the Holidays is one of the best.
Check it out for yourself when it premieres on Dec. 2 on Amazon’s Freevee.
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