I find that no matter how old I grow and how much more mature I’m supposed to be I always manage to make my way back to the same kinds of love stories; horribly angsty ones. Hardly anything is forbidden anymore, a fact that I already mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but that doesn’t stop the general public from wanting the gut wrenching longing and anguish that comes with a good forbidden love story. The solution to this conundrum was, apparently, a simple one. Interspecies dating. It works best with supernatural creatures, like vampires or werewolves, but also works inter-planetarily. So I’ve compiled a list of Couples that Should Have Been and Wanted To Be Together But There Was Just Too Much Angst.
Buffy and Angel
I think that no matter how many angsty couples I come across or however many humans hook up with vampires I’ll still always go back to my first and favorite; Buffy and Angel. I didn’t start watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer until its third season. I wasn’t all that interested, actually. I didn’t used to watch all that much TV and even though I had been dying to see the movie version of this show when it came out back in 1992, when I was ten years old, it would have been out of character for me to seek out a show about an ordinary girl who finds out she’s the slayer, the chosen one, and that she has to spend all her free time killing vampires and demons. But I remember there being a very specific article in Entertainment Weekly about the best shows you’re not watching and it listed Buffy, and so I decided to start watching. It was the fifth episode of season three when Buffy and Faith are supposed to be hunted in something called Slayerfest ’98 where demons compete to kill the slayer a la The Most Dangerous Game, but through circumstance Cordelia ends up with Buffy on the hunted end of things. It wasn’t a particularly ground breaking episode and not even all that memorable, had it not be my first one, but it was enough to propel me into some sort of Buffy hysteria where I found myself borrowing taped episodes of seasons one and two from a girl who’d recorded them on VHS. I loved everything about it, the humor, the danger, the butt kicking babes… but there was one thing that my high school aged heart just couldn’t get enough of; the angst filled romance between the vampire Angel, who’d been cursed with a soul and is attempting to make amends for all the wrong he did without one, and Buffy, the vampire slayer. It may seem like a toxic combination and that’s the point, they’re supposed to be adversaries but circumstance has brought them together they just can’t help feeling how they feel. I was so in love with this storyline. A lot of us weepy eyed, angst loving, teenagers were. Which is why is was oh so tragic in season two when they finally got horizontal only to discover that should Angel achieve a moment of happiness his curse (the soul was restored by Romani gypsies after Angelus killed a favorite daughter with the idea that killing him would be mercy compared to the agony of knowing how many lives he’d taken) would be reversed and he’d become evil again. And if that turn of events wasn’t shocking enough, we loved Angel!, just imagine what kicked into gear when Angelus opened a portal that only his blood could close and then had his soul returned by a crafty witch in training. Buffy was forced to kill him anyway and whence commenced a collective fangirl cry that may never be forgot. But people don’t always stay dead in these stories and in season three Angel was back again for more angst. Eventually Buffy and Angel parted, for good reasons, and the fact that David Boreanz got his own spinoff, but through all their other relationships it was always somehow made clear that they never would have, or could have, forgotten each other. Ask a lot of Buffy fans and the couple they’ll choose is the far more complex and antagonistic one between Buffy and Spike, but for me it will always somehow be Buffy and Angel. They couldn’t have worked in the long run, and I love the producers for accepting that, but their passionate, intense, and undeniably angsty love story is probably one for the ages. The best ones never end happy anyway.
The Doctor and Rose
I’ve talked about Doctor Who more than once on this blog, though I’ve never really sat down and gone over its finer plot points. Considering this is the longest running Sci-Fi show on television; first airing in 1963 it played for twenty six years before it left the air in 1989, then revived briefly with a grand Americanized motion picture in 1996. Things were quiet for about nine more years, except for the continued publication of the weirdly popular Doctor Who Magazine, before the BBC decided to revamp it and bring it back, starting in 2005, for a somewhat rebooted series. Everything that happened before still happened, but the new stories were far more emotional and character driven than the early series. The story is as follows; a, relatively human looking, alien called The Doctor absconded from his home planet of Gallifrey with a stolen time machine called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimentions In Space). He’s from a race called Time Lords who pretty much just watch everything unfolding throughout the universe and don’t get involved, even when time starts going off course. The Doctor thinks this is the pits, so he decides to do a little meddling by traveling around time and space fixing problems and pretty much just seeing all there is to see. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; like space tourism. And, because traveling alone is both brilliant (you can do and see whatever you want whenever you want!) and polarizingly lonely he often does so with companions. And then there’s the handy trick. Because this show has been on for so long it’s an understandable question as to how the same actor has been kicking it since 1963, especially since he was almost as old as god. The answer is simple, he’s not. When the Doctor is hurt he’s able to “regenerate” which allows him to change bodies, and personalities to a degree, while still remaining the same person. He’s the same, but different. It’s really sad when this happens, but also intriguing because you can’t wait to see what the new Doctor will be like. Obviously this is so that actors may come and go as they please, but it’s also cathartic to a serial that’s been on so long. A fresh shot in the arm. Now the comings and goings of characters was always a staple of this show, but it never managed to be heartbreaking. Until they brought it back from its fifteen year hiatus. In the first episode of the new series the Doctor meets Rose. She’s pretty ordinary, is nineteen, lives with her mother in a counsel flat in Southeast London, has a tepid boyfriend named Mickey, works at a department store, and is terminally bored. But when alien creatures known as Autons, basically living plastic, take over the shop where she works she meets the Doctor. She’s immediately intrigued by the adventure so when he asks her to come along she only hesitates for a moment before jumping aboard. And they travel together for two seasons, twenty-seven episodes, where they go from meeting Queen Victoria to the planet New Earth, all through time and space fixing problems and righting wrongs. And they were a really good team, perhaps too good a team because after about two episodes of the second series it became more and more obvious that these two were head over heels over each other. The problem? Well, age for one, she’s nineteen and he’s just over nine hundred. And there’s the fact that while she gets older and ages he’ll stay pretty much exactly the same, unless of course he has to regenerate and then he’ll just be different altogether. Any way you want to slice it, the situation blows. Which is probably why they never really got together. And then, because everything has to come to a close, their almost romance was cut short when Rose ended up trapped in a parallel universe and they had to say goodbye in one of those crushingly sad scenes.
Sookie and Bill
When the advertisements first started out for True Blood, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was planning on taking the plunge and watching the HBO produced vampire tale. It was straight on the heels of Twilight -mania and seemed as if it may just be another thing capitalizing. But then I realized that was really stupid reasoning. I’d always liked vampire tales, why would I let Stephenie Meyer and her brood of sparklers ruin that for me? HBO is known for it’s quality broadcasting and I discovered there were a whole stack of books by Charlaine Harris for them to draw plots* so I decided I need to give it a chance. And boy, am I glad I did. True Blood is sort of like the next generation of vampire tales, there’s no secrets and hiding, vampires “came out of the coffin” several years before the story started, partly due to the creation of a synthetic blood substitute made by the Japanese called Tru Blood. So now they’re fighting for legal rights and equality, which drives many a subplot. Humans are, somewhat reasonably, wary of their new neighbors, causing prejudice (humans who engage in sexual concourse with vampires are derogatorily called fangbangers) and sometimes violence. Vampire blood heals, but also causes the drinker to have sexual feelings towards the vampire who provided the blood, and in small amounts it’s sold on the street as a drug, throwing users into a sort of euphoric dreamscape. Set against this backdrop, Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at local bar and restaurant Merlotte’s, meets Bill Compton, a vampire and they quickly develop an extraordinarily angsty relationship. Why are the angst levels so high, you ask? The fact that Sookie’s dating a vampire does not need to be hidden, due to the nature of the world they live in, but with serial killers, supernatural creatures, and politics of a scene that can easily be described in terms of organized crime, there’s bound to be a few hiccups. Not to mention the fact that Sookie, herself, is rather hotheaded and tends to get infuriated with whoever’s convenient. Throw in a super sexy vampire sheriff who has his eye on the perky blonde, and the fact that Sookie herself seems to be, well, not quite human and highly coveted and you have a boiling pot of angst just waiting to be served up to the waiting audience.
Mick and Beth
Moonlight was a show that aired in the 2007 – 2008 season. It was about a private investigator named Mick St. John (played by Alex O’Loughlin) who just so happened to be a vampire. He was a relatively new vampire, having been turned in the fifties by his new wife Coraline. It was a rude awakening and the two shared a volatile relationship until Coraline tried to repair their foundering relationship by kidnapping a child, named Beth. There was some big showdown that, supposedly, left Coraline dead and Beth returned safely to her family. Something like twenty five years later, while Beth (now a successful beauty played by Sophia Myles) is working as an investigative reporter at a sleazy internet new station called BuzzWire, the two come back into contact for an age old angsty relationship. Moonlight didn’t last long, which was a shame because it was a show I really enjoyed. Its main issue being, I think, that it came out just a little bit too early. It’s undeniable that Twilight brought about the current obsession with vampires, but it didn’t explode until the summer after Moonlight was axed due to the writer’s strike. It’s true that the main plot was not exactly groundbreaking (Angel was essentially a vampire private investigator in Angel) but the characters were solid, the actors good, and ancillary characters really, really, amusing. It’s not surprising to learn that Coraline makes a reappearance played by Shannyn Sossamon who pulls off the sexy bitchy vampire pretty damned well (whether you like her or not), and Mick’s vampire colleague Josef Kostan, played by Veronica Mars’ resplendent Jason Dohring, is witty and comical while still being powerful and menacing. I don’t know a lot of people who watched Moonlight, which I imagine was the problem, but the ones who did liked it. But the purpose of this is not to regale the show with praise, but rather to talk about Mick and Beth. The angst in their romance is born from the same thread that every vampire romance is; danger. While Beth really seems to enjoy poking her nose into places that aren’t exactly kittens and roses there is no doubt there’s more danger surrounding her when she’s mixed up with Mick. For the majority of the show she has a boyfriend and, despite they’re obvious attraction they see each other as friends without much of hitch but once they get together and as the series progresses it’s clear that they know their romance is doomed, but they just cant seem to stay away from each other. Amazingly, it’s not the irritating same old “I’ll hurt you” issue that propels the angst in this show, which may be why I found it refreshing.
Liz and Max
Roswell was a show on the WB for three seasons at the end of high school and the beginning of college, which is probably why I only diligently watched the first season. It centered around a regular teenage girl named Liz growing up in Roswell, New Mexico. She’s brainy, has a job at her family’s diner, the Crashdown, and a fairly popular boyfriend. Everything’s great until there’s a fight at the diner, an errant gun goes off, and Liz ends up with a bullet in her gut. Enter Max, the quiet boy at school who’s kind of cute and kind of interesting, and what’s more he’s hopelessly and quietly in love with Liz. Oh right, he’s also secretly an alien. Max, his sister Isabel, and their friend Michael crashed down to Earth in 1947 and were kept in some sort of incubator for decades before they hatched and were adopted by local residents. They’re basically like regular teenagers, only more confused as they have no answers to where they come from and why they’re on Earth, and they also have a few handy powers, such as the ability to walk into and observe people’s dreams, telekinesis, and the ability to change matter. They’ve mostly kept to themselves and really enjoy, due to lessened taste buds, extreme spicy and sweet mixed together, which is why they carry around Tabasco sauce to add to their meals. So, when lovelorn Max sees Liz shot he uses his powers to dissolve the bullet, revealing himself. And thus begins one of the angstiest relationships I’ve ever encountered. They’re on again, off again, confused because they’re not the same species, and confused by “destiny”. He tries to protect her by saying they can’t be together, they both mope, and then it gets complicated. The three aliens turn out to have been four when another alien is introduced, Tess, and it’s revealed that they’re humanized versions of themselves from the planet Antar. Max was king, Isabel his sister, Michael his second in command, and Tess his queen. Tess insists that she and Max are meant to be together, throwing a wrench with a whole lot o’angst in the situation. Essentially it’s a struggle between what these two want, to be together, and what they feel like they’re meant to do. There’s also the element of secrecy to keep things fresh (well, in season one anyway then it all got a bit stale) as the aliens need to keep their existence a secret for feel of being chopped up in a lab somewhere while at the same times trying to learn more about their past.
Elena and Stefan
Yet another vampire show, The Vampire Diaries is clearly riding on Twilight’s coattails, but it’s based on a book series that was written far before Stephenie Meyer literally dreamed of Edward Cullen. I read these books when I was younger (read: still too old to be reading teen fiction) so I both knew what to expect from this series and didn’t know what to expect. There were a lot of things in LJ Smith’s books that I knew were not going to make it into the show, and for good reason. While I liked the books well enough there were a lot of elements, specifically the characterization of Elena and the fact that there was no explanation for why she looked like vampire Katherine and the fact that she dies early on, that really wouldn’t be relatable to the average CW viewer. Let me put it this way; the show is better than the books, and that doesn’t happen very often. Still, the world that was created in LJ Smith’s books (the initial Vampire Diaries trilogy The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, the sequel Dark Reunion, and a bunch of new ones entitled The Return that I’m unfamiliar with) is a solid one. Vampire Stefan Salvatore travel to Fell’s Church, Virginia where he encounters Elena Gilbert, an icy blond that’s the spiting image of his sire. The two engage in a tumultuous romance with him trying to keep her out of danger, particularly the danger brought on by Stefan’s evil brother, Damon, who follows him and also covets Elena. Elena’s joined by her friends Bonnie, a witch, and Meredith. The show is… somewhat different. Elena’s hair has turned glossy brown, the town they live in is called Mystic Falls, and instead of being Renaissance age travelers, the Salvatore brothers are native to Mystic Falls until they were turned around the time of the civil war, and now they’ve returned home. The story also has become more complex. Elena’s resemblance is explained by the fact she was adopted and her real lineage go back to Katherine, the Salvatore’s sire, and is the doppelgänger who’s blood is needed to break the curse of the sun and the moon, which keeps werewolves turning only at the full moon and vampires locked inside all day. Complicated enough for you? Well that’s just part of the story. But central to all this is the love story between Elena and Stefan. Initially he’s drawn to her because of her resemblance but soon realizes he loves her for her, far more than the love he felt for Katherine. The angst in this relationship stems from the same thing as in the previous vampire tales; Elena is constantly in danger, especially since she’s the doppelgänger and both the werewolves and vampires are after her blood. But if only that were the only thing standing in their way. With Katherine coming to town threatening to kill Elena’s family if she stays with Stefan, Damon’s attraction to the now brunette beauty, and the elder vampires on their way there’s a whole lot out there to angst out about, one doesn’t want to plan a future when they’re not sure they have one.
* I haven’t read any of the Southern Vampires books and don’t plan on it. I love the show and from what I’ve heard from everyone who’s weighed in on the topic, it would be best for me to just continue doing that. I don’t want to know what happens.