Anyway, since "Dawson's Creek" (1998-2003) and "Buffy" (1997-2003) are both ending this season, the simultaneity of the series endings has gotten me thinking about why it is that I'm a firm believer in the Joey/Dawson pairing primarily because of its strong set-up in the first 2 or 3 seasons ... and yet I am not a Buffy/Angel believer even though the series began with the same sort of set-up. I know this probably interests no one but me, but I'm writing it for me anyway. :)
Joey and Dawson were presented as soul mates who were meant to be together, and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I loved the unrequited love, the longing from afar, the angst, the confusion, the spectacular first kiss, the thrilling highs and desperate lows, and the frequent hints throughout the series that eventually -- eventually -- no matter what might happen in the meantime years and their relationships with other people ... that EVENTUALLY Dawson and Joey would find their way to a happy ending together. In times of trouble, they always came back together, always came back to the bond between them, always referred to the strength of the love they had. The Dawson/Joey relationship kept popping up at least once each season, and the show kept swapping the unrequited love back and forth between the two of them for the past 5 years. Pretty much since the first episode until now, one of them has always been presented as pining for the other. And the camera work, the directing, the writing always heavily implied that this was the One True Pairing.
At least, that's what I believe. And I won't be convinced otherwise. I could potentially have bought the meaningfulness of a Joey/Pacey relationship if the writers/directors/etc. had created a situation that led me to believe over time that Joey and Dawson had truly moved on, that they were no longer in love with each other, that they were not, in fact, soul mates. But the show never did that. It did pair Joey with Pacey, but it never did so in a way that invalidated Joey's bond with Dawson. That Dawson issue always lingered in the background, waiting for some sort of true resolution. And so I found myself always waiting for that other Dawson/Joey shoe to drop.
And so -- since I've recently found myself ranting about the fact that it looks like Dawson and Joey won't end up together on "Dawson's Creek" -- I found myself wondering why I don't feel the same way about Buffy and Angel. They, too, were set up as soul mates in the first 2 or 3 seasons of the series. They, too, had the longing from afar, the angst, the confusion, the spectacular first kiss, the thrilling highs and desperate lows. So I thought I'd explore the reasons I don't have the same stubborn belief in the Buffy/Angel luuuuurve that I feel about Dawson and Joey.
I'll list my reasons in order of how strongly I think they influence my feelings:
- Angel left the show. He's on a different show now. He has rarely been discussed or even mentioned in the past 3 or 4 seasons. I have difficulty hanging on to any hope for or belief in a couple who've had basically nothing to do with each other for years, and have rarely even spoken of each other during that time. The writers/directors haven't even manufactured any scenes or camera shots to imply longing from afar, such as brief scenes of Buffy crying over her claddagh ring or something. I'm sorry, but it has just looked to me as if the characters have moved on. And therefore, if the writers were to bring Angel back, out of nowhere, for some sort of romantic reunion at the end of the series, it would seem ridiculous to me. Some sort of Angel ex machina.
- I began regularly watching "Buffy" after Angel had already left. Immediately after, in fact. I watched the earlier seasons on FX when they began airing (and, more recently, on DVD), but I didn't watch them as they happened. So when I watched the Buffy/Angel romance, I saw it as something which had already ended. I thought it was great, and had some very romantic moments, and the end of season 2 was absolutely heart-breaking when Buffy had to kill Angel to save the world. But the relationship was past tense already.
- I'm a sucker for an unrequited love plot. That's how the Spike/Buffy thing initially sucked me in. I especially love an unrequited love plot that involves a tough guy who isn't sure how to deal with the tender feelings he's experiencing. There's something compelling about the internal struggle that happens in a character who finds himself torn between ego and tenderness. Hell, it's what I love about Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and it's what I love about the Spike/Buffy plot arc of the past 3 or 4 seasons. And so I got invested in wanting the underdog to win. When I saw "Pretty In Pink", I wanted Duckie to get the girl. And now I want Spike to get the girl. He probably won't, but I can't help but root for the guy who's been doing everything for love for the past few years.
- Angel seemed like a fairly one-dimensional character on "Buffy", which made him kind of boring. He was just always brooding. Oh, woe is me! For I have killed so many, and now must suffer for my sins! And I cannot have sex, because it will make me evil again! He didn't seem to evince much in the way of moral dilemmas. The closest he came was the whole want-to-have-sex-with-Buffy-but-can't-ha
ve-sex-with-Buffy problem. But that wasn't actually a dilemma, because the answer was foregone: They couldn't have sex. And so the situation (and the character) was stagnant. No potential for change, in any way. (Angel has become a much more interesting character away from Buffy, on his own show, because they've finally given him some internal quandaries to resolve, some inner demons of the more metaphorical variety to battle.)
- Okay, yeah, and Spike is hot. But Spike is also far more interesting, as a character, than Angel, because he does have conflicting desires and potential for change. (Angelus gives Spike a definite run for his money ... but Buffy wasn't involved with Angelus. She was involved with his Not-So-Evil Twin.)