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 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 is 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, 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.
Grey’s Anatomy – Back in the Saddle (16×02)
Unfortunately, this week was a lackluster episode for Grey’s. This isn’t surprising considering the season premiere was such a huge event for us all.
Mer’s still on trash pick-up duty, Alex and Richard are still trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy at their new hospital, and Bailey’s back to teaching after Katherine demoted her.
Oh, but hey Jo’s back and better than ever, and she’s a hot commodity! She’s already looking better, and back to her chipper-self with the help of Alex. Already throwing out ultimatums to Bailey and making herself a general surgeon. Good on you Jo! Show them what you’re worth.
While Jo’s rising the ranks, the other interns are fighting to be the next Alex and Meredith. Meredith is now pulling an Izzie and Heather Brooks, helping desperate patients in the parking lot of the hospital.
We love a woman who puts her career at risk to help the less fortunate, and apparently, Andrew does too, “You’re just very very sexy when you’re about to burn your whole life down.”
She successfully pulls the assistance of Schmidt and Avery to diagnose her parole officer’s lymph node cancer. And, she’s working on publishing her findings of the lack of health insurance for the lower class. No matter what, you can’t stop Meredith Grey from working!
Addressing current nationwide issues is Grey’s forte. With the future election on the horizon, the question of healthcare is a huge cause for concern for many of the middle and lower classes. It’ll be interesting to see how the show lays out the foundation of this issue while the democratic debates continue doing the same. Maybe Shonda is a fortune teller and knows the fate of our nation, that would be no surprise.
Meanwhile, Amelia’s struggling with the decision of whether to terminate the pregnancy. She tells Link about the pregnancy and he’s stunned. They both have challenges with their past and fear bringing a child into the world. Link’s fears are too wholesome, and thankfully Jo helped him realize that he would make a great father. The child better have his hair!
It may appear the show enjoys throwing around pregnancy announcements like they do unsuspecting deaths, but this one is different. Though, they better not throw in a plot twist and tell us it’s Owen’s because then we’ll be having a hissy fit. Amelia’s tragedy with Christopher left her with a lot of grief, so we hope this is an easy pregnancy, drama free.
Link’s stable for her, and she deserves stability.
Teddy’s lack of visibility must be attributed to an underlying reason from her portraying actress Kim Raver. Any news? All I can say is I miss Teddy.
The conflict between Tom and Owen is elementary, but Tom has every right to be angry with Owen. Owen just comes in after breaking Teddy’s heart time after time. There can’t be more drama for Owen and Teddy, otherwise, that would just be mean.
Poor Tom trying to assert his dominance as Owen’s boss, and by the end, he’s the one on his knees. Certainly, Owen had the help of the defibrillator to accidentally shock Tom to his knees, ouch.
Tom’s restraining order against Owen is extremely excessive but again warranted. At least he’s not taking his anger out on Teddy.
Richard’s mini sentimental monologue to Alex about why Grey Sloan Memorial is his home is worthy of a final scene voiceover. I felt that one close to my heart.
The separation in hospitals is like a spoof of earlier seasons with the battle against Mercy West. How long is this going to last? I’m not a huge fan of the split storylines.
What do you think is next for the doctors? Will Meredith’s license be taken away? How will Alex and Richard eventually return to the hospital? And is Link really the father of Amelia’s child?
Please leave your thoughts below!
- Damn Maggie, tell us how you really feel. Maggie’s really going downhill since her relationship with Jackson, but it looks like Jackson’s really on the uprise with Vic.
- #Freedom, iconic and classic.
- Ranked number one in mortality rate, patient dissatisfaction, and facilities. What a sad result for Alex and Richard.
- Pretty sure texting a guy to drop a pregnancy announcement is already a thing.
- “We’d make an amazing kid and I kinda want to meet that kid.”
- Helm’s old crush on Meredith has manifested into wanting to now become Meredith! “I’m so Meredith Grey.”
- When did that room become a plant room? Wasn’t it originally just a blank room for relaxation? Either way, I want one!
- “I’m really sorry to bother you but I think that guy’s dead.”
- Grey’s Happy Patient Tally continues with a total of 3!
Emergence – Camera Wheelbarrow Tiger Pillow (1×02)
The mystery surrounding Piper thickens on Emergence Season 1 Episode 2 as we try to figure out who she is, where she came from, and who is after her.
There’s a great deal of suspense as Jo, Chris, and even Benny, peel back the layers of the mysterious plane crash and its lone survivor.
But this is one mystery that we’re not going to be able to crack alone.
It ‘s almost better to sit back and enjoy the episode for what it is than try to figure out what’s happening.
The plot remains vague but that’s on purpose — we’ll get all the answers when the time is right.
We could wrack our brains coming up with theories, but what’s that going to do for us?
Grand Hotel – Art of Darkness (1×11)
Finding the truth about what happened to Sky was a false alarm on Grand Hotel’s “Art of Darkness.”
While we’re all dying to know what happened to Danny’s sister, revealing that she was part of Theresa’s prostitution ring wouldn’t have been a good choice for the series.
The appeal is the mystery of the Riviera Grand, the secrets that are being kept by the hotel’s owners and staff, and of course, what happened to Sky.
If Danny were to find his sister two-episodes before the finale, it would ruin the momentum and give us no reason to watch till the end let alone a second season.
Not to mention it wouldn’t be believable.
Sky’s been described as somewhat of a firecracker. Whatever happened to her was a result of her finding out or knowing too much.
She wouldn’t just allow herself to be pimped out by Theresa all this time.
And though Theresa’s been calling the shots for quite some time, it’s been made very clear that whatever happened to Sky involved Mateo and Santiago.
Now we know that whatever happened to Sky also involved the mysterious room 606 where Caroline and Yoli were hiding their father, Felix, and where Beatriz’s “accident” happened.
Obviously, the word accident is in quotation marks because it’s clear that Beatriz’s death wasn’t caused by a heart attack like we’ve been led to believe.
Considering Yoli said Sky was the only other person who had a key, it’s safe to assume she knew what really happened and threatened to expose the killer.
When Javi found out about the abandoned hotel, it triggered a childhood memory for him. In it, Beatriz snuck him away to the room and begged him not to tell his father about it.
Based on the memory, Beatriz seemed terrified of what Santiago would do.
That is if she’s referring to Santiago as Javi’s father.
Alicia didn’t recall the room at first but while going through the family photo albums, she recalled one time when she was riding her tricycle and she saw both Santiago and Gigi keeping Beatriz a prison.
Again, based on the memory, Beatriz looked terrified.
The most obvious guess is that she was a drug addict and both her husband and her best friend were trying to help her secretly get clean while protecting the children.
However, Beatriz didn’t look to be high on drugs in Alicia’s memory, which makes the situation all the more curious.
There’s also Gigi’s reaction to finding out Yoli was having an affair with Sky in room 606 before her disappearance.
Panicked, Gigi runs into the room looking for something. What does she think Sky found inside?
And how is this connected to the chat Gigi had with Sky just before she disappeared?
This also begs the question: what is the connection between Beatriz and Sky?
After the cops raided Theresa’s “art show,” Mateo helped her escape through the backdoor.
But proving his loyalty wasn’t his attempt at getting back into her good graces.
Instead, Mateo buttered her up just enough so she’d let him in and then he attempted to kill her realizing he’d never be free of her otherwise.
You saw how Theresa treated Santiago when he tried to pay back the debt in full.
Getting all her money isn’t beneficial — she wants the assets and the access to the Riviera Grand. It was never about money.
The gunshot clearly went off, but we’re not sure who pulled the trigger.
Mateo has presumably killed before, but did he have it in him to kill the woman who saved him?
Did Theresa grab hold of the gun and kill Mateo?
Was it a blank bullet?
I’d like to believe Mateo took care of the problem for everyone, but killing a villain is never that easy.
Other Riviera Grand Musings
- Byron is back and he has Carolina wrapped around his finger… again. It’s highly unlikely that he doesn’t have ulterior motives. What decent and self-respecting man would go back to the woman who cheated on him the night before the wedding?
- Alicia is realizing that Danny was right about the hotel’s money problems after she confronts her father who admits their indebted to some dangerous people. There’s still undeniable chemistry between Danny and Alicia and once she realizes the only thing Danny didn’t lie about was his feelings for her, she’ll forgive him. Plus, he brought up a valid point: what would she do if someone in her family mysteriously vanished?
- Jason and Vanessa are cute, but they don’t have staying power. Ingrid’s jealousy was upsetting considering all the damage she’s already done to the people at the Riviera Grand, but thankfully, Mrs. P checked her real quick. Still, I see her and Jason becoming a couple very soon.
- Gigi had me just as fooled as she had Felix when she accompanied him to the Bahamas. But alas, she ventured out there simply to cozy up to him, drug him, and take the money he said he put into a bank account for her. Her intentions were always to help Santiago, but she was more inclined when she realized he was willing to risk the hotel to get back into her good graces. They’re stronger together.
- Danny’s a terrible spy. About 5 seconds into the party, I figured out what kind of party it was. Yes, eventually he saved a bunch of girls from sex trafficking, but I’m calling that a lucky break.
What did you think of this week’s Grand Hotel?
Be sure to tweet ABC to let them know you want to renew the series!
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