While Buffy may have gotten all of the attention, spin-off Angel is Joss Whedon’s TV masterpiece (though given a chance Firefly could have been better). A friend and I used to say that Angel was where Buffy characters went for character development. Angel took two of Buffy‘s worst characters (Wesley and Cordelia) and gave them a purpose. While still very much annoying, Cordelia’s character undergoes an incredible transformation from selfish queen bee to someone whose selflessness is used as a weapon against the world she tries to protect. Wesley goes from a useless idiot to a deadly and intelligent (if slightly unhinged) warrior. Sure, Angel suffers from all of the things that piss me off in stories- time travel, resurrection, unresolved plot lines, vampire sex, Vincent Kartheiser- but this series’ stregnth lies not in the actual story but in the themes (even is Smile Time is my favorite episode of anything ever).
In the show, there is a lot of discussion regarding “fighting the good fight”. Almost every character enters into the fight of good vs. evil in the hopes of redemption, even when redemption is impossible. The hopelessness of the fight for redemption fits right in with the nature of the conflict these characters are involved in. No matter how hard they fight, no matter what sacrifices are made, the characters are in a losing battle. They cannot hope to eradicate evil, but can only hope to slow them down. The series is about two things: the power of free will to trump destiny, and “fighting the good fight” even when there is no hope of victory. While Angel‘s themes may not have helped tell the greatest of stories, the story is true to these themes throughout the series. Angel is available on both Netflix and Amazon Prime, so there are no excuses for not watching.