TOP 10 TV SHOW THEMES
#1 - Angel
The theme song of Angel was written by an alternative rock group called Darling Violetta. It’s a lush and beautifully haunting ballad that blends classical elements (the gorgeous cello part for example) with a more contemporary rock style. While Buffy’s upbeat punk rock theme caters more to a teenage audience, Angel’s theme invokes a darker and more mature emotional response. This is not to say I believe Angel is a darker show than Buffy- they both have their moments. Darling Violetta also released a very cool extended remix of the song which can be heard here.
stop kidding yourself. Angel is a darker show than Buffy.
‘Dark’ is a subjective term. BUFFY deals with issues like rape, addiction, murder, etc. (all VERY ‘dark’ subjects). Now, it could be argued that ANGEL is presented in more of a ‘dark’ visual/stylistic manner, but the show’s actual content isn’t particularly darker than BUFFY’s. Like I said, they both have their moments.
There is no question that Buffy deals with heavy, dark themes. But Buffy is about overcoming and growing. It is ultimately about hope and persevering with results. Suffering in Buffy is more likely (but not garunteed, because Buffy is a quality show) to have meaning, reason, or at least resolution or result in some kind of positive ultimate growth. Buffy is about growing up and escaping bonds. The default world of Buffy is light and “normal” with moments of darkness, and suffering.
Angel, while also dealing with rape (several times) addiction (bascially angel’s character rofile) and murder every episode, is thematically hugely darker. The message of angel is that evil is forever, stronger, and that you have to fight until you are bloody and almost dead just to keep your head above water. Angel is about redemption being UNacheivable, but rather a constant effort. There is not lights at the end of the tunnel in Angel. Suffering is so pervasive it is taken as a given for many of the characters, if not all of them at some point. The default in Angel is darkness and suffering with moments of reprieve.
I wouldn’t say the default world of Buffy is ‘light and normal.’ The show takes place on a hell mouth. It’s true that we often see the characters (Buffy especially) ATTEMPT to live out moments of normalcy, but they usually fail due to living and working literally in the heart of darkness. Also, Buffy herself comes from a long line of slayers whose powers are rooted in evil and who, more often than not, bring death to practically everyone they meet. I agree that BUFFY is mostly a show about growing up and overcoming obstacles, but it’s also about a girl who is entrenched in darkness and constantly realizing that she’ll never live a normal life (despite repeated attempts to do so). The many ‘light’ moments on the show should be viewed as tongue-in-cheek in most cases. After all, there comes a time in life when things are SO bad that all you can do is laugh at the situation, and that is very often the case in BUFFY (hence the repeated jokes in the face of danger/death).
As for ANGEL, I fully agree with your summary of the show’s themes. The show is definitely about constantly working towards an unachievable goal, but as I mentioned above- so is BUFFY. Neither Buffy or Angel will ever achieve what they truly desire. The difference is that Buffy and the Scoobies often laugh that fact off while Angel wallows and broods in the darkness of it all. And yes, Angel has a long history of death, but so does Buffy by way of her slayer lineage. I do think ANGEL is a stylistically ‘darker’ show, but I just don’t find the subject matter any darker than BUFFY if you look past the surface. May just have to agree to disagree on this one.
perhaps we will. What I meant about the “default” of the Buffy world was no so much what the default was for Buffy herself - but for Sunnydale. For a city on a Hellmouth, it is a pretty normal place. It has a high mortality rate, but it has a normal high school, with normal students and the abnormal ones are acceptation. When in Season 7 things become consistently abnormal, that is considered a huge departure from default Sunnydale. But then consider LA. Gunn’s gang is only different from any normal gang because they fight Vampires instead of other gangs. And this gang seems to fight and kill more Vamps than Buffy just to stay alive and she is the only one really operating on this Hellmouth.
Buffy and her friends, even if their lives get pretty dark, are pretty much the only ones fighting in Buffy. Similarly, this is pretty much enough keep most of the city alright. Not so in Angel. In Angel there are many groups fighting evils, both supernatural and otherwise. And they aren’t making much of a dent.
You can even look at the Apocalypses. In Buffy, they are isolated events to stop. Even the First Evil isn’t a chronic Apocalypse, it is a chronic force, but the push is an isolated act of opportunity. But in Angel? W&H’s plan is the Thousand Year Apocalypse that they have been planning for since before time. The end of the world is a chronic. You can’t fight it. Sure it has flare ups, but more often than not that is a distraction. And if you finally fight back - well welcome to hell. In Angel, evil is endemic. In Buffy it is an outside invading force.
Buffy contains hope for something better, whether it is friendship, a new self definition, new, renewed love, or a better world, it is there. It isn’t in Angel. Angel and Co. are ending world peace when Buffy and co. are fighting the root of all evil. That alone should tell you something.
Again, this is not to say Buffy is not actually a very dark show. Of course it is. And the closer you look, the darker it gets. But if you look that closely at Angel, well, what does Captain Mal say about staring into the Black?