Why Don’t I Like Angel?

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge Buffy fan.

Obsessed might be the better word for it.

I didn’t grow up on the show, which, incidentally, started airing when I was 12. I only discovered it about two and a half years ago, after my love of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Firefly convinced me to give Joss Whedon’s girl-superhero a try. (Patrick Rothfuss’s love letter to Joss Whedon didn’t hurt, either.)

Now, I’ve watched the show through more than a few times, I’m reading the Season 8 graphic novels, and I’ve seriously considered having a husband-and-wife dance at my wedding to this heinously inappropriate song:

(May the Piracy Furies decline to smite me for embedding this video.)

So you would think I’d be all over Angel. But we’ve tried watching it, and haven’t gotten further than the first episodes of season 2. So why don’t I like Angel?

1. The show’s premise isn’t all that great. Brooding vampire goes to L.A. to fight evil in his quest for redemption? Okay, well, when I put it like that, it does sound interesting. Trouble is, it just leads to Angel saving young women and/or children in every other episode. We frequently get to say, “Tonight, on a very special Angel…” as they treat topics like drugs, gangs, and single parenthood. It’s just… too earnest.

2. Individual episodes aren’t that gripping. If I find I’m looking at my blog stats or surfing Facebook while I’m watching a show, I know it’s just not doing it for me. I actually started writing this blog post last Friday when we were attempting to give the show another shot. Too many episodes are “monster of the week,” but those monsters don’t get me biting my nails. Which leads us to…

3. The villain is too ambiguous. One of the great things about Buffy is that every season has a real, visible villain, someone we can see and hate (and/or think is kinda awesome, like Mayor Wilkins). The fight is present in almost every episode. But Angel (at least so far) doesn’t have this. A law firm just doesn’t get my love-to-hate juices flowing.

4. The characters don’t inspire much love. I never cared much for Doyle, and then he just disappeared. And Cordelia got his power through a kiss? Um, weak plot device, guys. Wesley is the goofy sidekick, and Cordelia is the “pretty face with an empty heart” who has room to grow—and there just hasn’t been much development of either. But it’s not just the sidekicks. Angel himself is too brooding (though David Boreanaz does portray his whimsical side with great glee), and I don’t feel compelled by his quest for redemption. He chooses to be miserable, which does not make me feel sorrowful on his behalf.

5. I hate Darla. I hate her voice, I hate her attitude, I hate her outfits, I hate her face, I hate her anachronistic American accent in the vampires’ deep past, I hate every single thing about her. I. Hate. Darla. And yet she’s a major player in season 2—and, I’m told, several seasons thereafter—which is almost enough to drive me completely away from the show.

At this stage, I’m limping along through Angel because I feel like I should watch it. I want that added facet of the Buffy-verse. But… is that “should” enough to overcome my dislike?

Can you convince me to like or at least keep watching Angel? Give it your best shot.

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10 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Like Angel?

  1. I hate Darla, too.
    I did rather like Doyle, though.
    The first couple seasons worked for me in a ‘modern vampire update of Philip Marlowe’ kind of way, but after season 2 they lost me. It was the Darla thing, and the baby, And then the baby turned into a whiny, unpleasant adolescent. Oops, hope I’m not giving too much away. I do agree with Mr. Rothfuss, who you cite above, that Wesley’s character arc is pretty amazing.
    😉

    1. Yeah, I hated the adolescent, too. Maybe if it had been a different actor, it might have been a better character. But I kept wanting to say, “Get over it already!”

  2. WINNEFRED BURKLE!!! ILLYRIA!!!

    Yeah, I really hate Darla too, but the show gets really cool characters soon after. You should just probably skip some episodes, but not abandon the show completely. Season 1 was truly boring, seasons 2 (once you get past the Darla crap) and 3 (no Darla!) are great, 4 is very uneven (truly outstanding arcs for some characters, tedious stuff for others), and 5 takes a few episodes too many to get going, but once it does it just goes nuts. In a good way.

    Season 5 has the best Joss Whedon written-directed episode ever. Some might think it’s even better then THE BODY in Buffy.

    Cheers from Tallinn,
    J

    1. Hey, thanks for the super-thoughtful comment! I’m still slogging through season 2, washing dishes and folding laundry while it’s on, but you’ve given me hope for the rest of the show.

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