The last episode of cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended 17 years ago in May of 2003. Though this simple fact makes me feel a smidge old, it is worth noting that the fandom for this series is alive and well on internet boards, Facebook groups, and other forms of social media. Fan art and fan fiction, essays, discussions, meet ups and cons still occur as if the show ended as recently as oh say, Game of Thrones. BtVS fans are hardcore, and still have much to say about the show after all of these years. This helps bring in newcomers, and contributes to breathing new life into the fandom world.
As someone who’s been within this fandom for, let’s say, many moons, it is still shocking to me the number of Buffy fans who’ve never bothered to sit down and watch the spin off series, Angel.
Beginning in season 4 of Buffy, Angel originally aired immediately after the parent series on the (then) WB, and ran for five seasons. Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy’s first love, leaves Sunnydale to find his own way in Los Angeles. Where one can argue Buffy’s journey was about growing up, Angel’s was about adult responsibilities. The fact that the series tied intricately into BtVS, including crossover characters and episodes, should be enough of a reason to give this show a gander. But more importantly?
It’s actually superior to Buffy.
Now, hear me out, Buffy fans. I not only watched both shows live, own all episodes, and have done a countless number of re-watches, but I have spent an unfathomable amount of time dissecting both series, the characters, storylines, and more. I’ve written essays and articles on various topics, and did not come to this conclusion lightly. After time, distance, and growing up, there is something more identifiable with Angel and his team. They are layered, accepting such complexities about themselves, and each other. They are able to look into their own respective darkness and not get utterly lost. They are able to accept the shades of gray of their world.
On Buffy, it’s all very black and white: evil is evil, and good is good. Except…it wasn’t. There was always evidence to the contrary, but this simplistic view prevails for the majority of the series. When it comes to quality drama, it is important for the characters to have a broader view of self and the world they live in. Because the main characters of Buffy were unable to do this, including Buffy herself, it made for a lot of fabricated drama that didn’t have to occur (especially in the sixth season, one of the more loathed seasons, although some like it).
I know that many allow their view of Angel in the first three seasons of Buffy to turn them off of his show, and that is understandable. He was fairly dull when he was first introduced to the audience (excluding the soulless/Angelus bits). But, I can assure you, Angel goes on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, and becomes one of the more complex characters of the universe. Give it a go if you haven’t; I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.