Sunday, August 12, 2018

Chaste Girlfriends Rule in 'virgins! the series'

Four virgins and one scandalous box. Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.
virgins! the series, a unique YouTube debut, stars four Afro-Canadian actresses portraying sexually inactive young professionals. This contemporary concept brings a liberating perspective to birds of a feather flock together.

Sara (Kadhija Ali)-- thanks to a forgetful fiance-- has to take the subway. High maintenance lawyer lady don't got time for that. After a little prayer, she steps down the public transportation stairs regardless. Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.

Delina (Genet Berhe) missed the lesson on Flirtation 101. Her neighbor likes eating out. Instead of taking the spelled out hint, Delina suggests that he eats out with his friends! Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.
East African descendants residing in Toronto: Sudanese Sara, Eritrean Delina, Somalian Amina, and Ethiopian Abyssinia (nicknamed Aby) have distinctive individual styles and personal career motivations. They get along great-- despite Delina seeming to have compiled a laundry list of repayments, Aby's burnt pot included. Maybe that's why she doesn't have a key to Aby's apartment, eh?

Amina (Sarah Bashir) didn't get the grant for her arts proposal-- heartbreaking and personally relatable--but she will keep pressing forward by sheer strength of determination and commitment. Plus, a solid circle behind her. Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.
Aby (Rebecca Amare) has a surprise waiting at home. Her array of shocked expressions whilst staring at her boss's email executed panic and fear quite accurately. Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.
The five minute first episode and four accompanying character vignettes highlight a refreshing perspective, something that can be attested to in terms of patiently looking for Mister or Miss Right, waiting for marriage, asexuality (which some strongly feel is unnatural but this lifestyle exists), and everything existing between personal bias against sexual intercourse. It is especially noted for portraying brown women pursuing other interests, other loves as a precursor to emotional and physical intimacy.

Over orange juices (some virgin, some not), the girls are suddenly interested in Aby's package-- a Pandora's box mystery that will surely be seen in the next episode.  Photo credit: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, director and Alysha Galbreath, director of photography.
In this thoughtfully concise interview with This Worldtown, virgin! the series creator Aden Abebe (partially inspired by Issa Rae's fantastic web series Awkward Black Girl) says this about the perceptions of virginity:
In Toronto, and the Western world at large, when you come out (as a virgin) to folks who are not of your community, they try to put you in a box of what it means to be a virgin. They assume you must be “really religious,” or, that it comes from some issue, be-it trust or intimacy issues. That’s really annoying and I think that’s a reason why a lot of virgins stay quiet about it. At least from what I understand, growing up in the Ethiopian community with my peers, from neighbouring communities; Somalis, Sudanese and Eritrean; virginity is not something that’s shameful or embarrassing, it just is. It’s only embarrassing in the context of the broader North America and European life.

Aden Abebe photographed by Leila Dhore Photography.

In episode one's "The Box," Aby rushes home to retrieve an incriminating package, knowing that her friends are waiting. As they're passing time, Amina spikes the orange juice, Sara wants takeout, and Delina can't cook. Delina signs for the package and is about to open. Aby arrives and tries to play it off casual. No one falls for her act though.

It is short. Its shortness, however, hypes up the anticipation for what happens next. In the minutes revealed, virgins! the series is funny, witty, and therapeutic. These different women from diverse upbringings (religions, education, etc) have come together as friends, interact with an obvious trust and bond between them that feels natural. Their shared virgin status is just icing on the cake. When Sara asks Aby, "do you want me to contact HR?" That opens up this whole gray area pertaining to sex-- how much does anyone need to know about personal life in the workplace and beyond? At the same time, why the shame? You feel bad for Aby. On one hand, the account is a huge investment, possibly beneficial to her future. Yet, she has stern beliefs that also should be considered.

In the meantime, looking forward to learning more about Delina, Amina, Sara, and Aby. With this gorgeous cast and a team of mostly women behind-the-scenes, the potential is simmering beautifully.

virgins! the series has an IndieGoGo (please, please support this much needed vision). The episodes are written by Aden Abebe, Fatuma Adar, and Baakal Getela, directed by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, and director of photography by Alysha Galbreath.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The 7th Annual Blackstar Film Festival

A dynamic conversation between long time friends was one commendable highlight of the 7th Annual Blackstar Film Festival.
Last weekend, the 7th Annual Blackstar Film Festival made West Philadelphia the hottest place to be. An elevated array of fashionably dressed, Afro'ed, braided, loc'ed peoples, their beautiful faces in all meccas of brown, glowing radiant from healthy sun and lots of loving affection. The film buffs and the filmmakers carried an extreme sense of woke consciousness-- the greatest accessory among migrations from place to place. Main events were housed at Lightbox Film Center, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia (ICA), and Pearlstein Gallery with opening reception at Johnny Brenda's and closing awards ceremony at World Live Cafe.

Festivities started on Thursday morning and ended Sunday.

Glory Edim with Radha Bank, Janine Sherman Barrois, and Roni Nicole Henderson. 

On Friday morning, Well Read Black Girl founder Gloria Edim led an insightful panel featuring talented women creators/heavyweights: screenwriter/playwright/actress Radna Bank (She's Gotta Have It, Empire), producer/screenwriter/director Janine Sherman Barrois (ER, Criminal Minds, Claws, French Fries, upcoming Madame CJ Walker Netflix project starring Octavia Spencer), and visual artist/filmmaker/music video director
Roni Nicole Henderson. The women share a mutual love for writing goddess, Toni Morrison and boasted endlessly on Beloved as well as generational stories, hand-me-down narratives, and oral storytelling. Henderson's dream about her mother's life after her death was very visceral and heartfelt. The women also spoke about their respective careers in episodic television, the challenge of getting features made, becoming a slashie (I first heard this in Zoolander)-- people are inclined to having more than one purpose, importance of building community with kindred spirits (tribe members) who are willing to critique and rip it up, and being patient, especially in white controlled environments.

Nijla Mu'min, Avril Speaks, and Bruce Francis Cole discuss the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations of filmmaking. 
On "The Making of Jinn" panel, writer/director Nijla Mu'min shared influences behind a story that she wrote many years prior, putting it away after receiving unwarranted criticism by a professor. The poetry lover began having recurring dreams about Jinn, deciding to rewrite the draft and sent it to Avril Speaks, a director/producer she previously collaborated with.
Jinn, loosely based on Mu'min's upbringing, and her father's conversion, was shot in nine days-- shocking considering that bigger budgets take on months, a year even at a time. Speaks came on, at first mentoring: providing an attentive ear and encouraging feedback before becoming fully engaged to making sure Jinn received as much funding as possible. As production began, she worked hard on getting every last promised dollar. Enter director of photography, Bruce Francis Cole-- who went to film school and wasn't invited back until he learned about cinematography-- helped every step of the way.
Films like Dee Ree's Pariah and Céline Sciamma's Girlhood inspired Mu'min to think about color. Thus, Jinn features pinks and greens to highlight girliness and nature respectively.

Celebrated cinematographer Bradford Young with Color of Change's Chief Storytelling Officer Rashid Shabazz in front of a beautiful projected image of Gordon Park's Nation of Islam sisters of the M.G.T. and G.C.C. Class. The late Ethel Sharrieff, Elijah Muhammad's eldest daughter, is at the forefront.
On Saturday evening, Bradford Young and Rashid Shabazz's conversation spilled the most tantalizing tea. Nothing was off limits as the two tight friends discussed black artist champions James Van Der Zee and Gordon Parks, the relationship between blackness and spirituality, and the value in creating a place to distribute infastructure, a legacy whilst navigating through Hollywood hostility. Young stated that cinematography was geometry and trust on set (that trust between him and the director) were pivotal. He compared the camera to a gun-- the white man's invention-- and the power black people wield as filmmakers, but wasn't afraid to address terrible imperfectness, the fear to criticize and unpack even films like Moonlight for its women characters. The deeper context raised questions about black cinema-- potential versus pushing development-- and that a film attached with a black director, black cast, and black money doesn't equal a black film. Young's suggested inclusions in the black cinema cannon are Haile Gerima's Ashes and Embers, Kathleen Collins' Losing Ground and Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep and To Sleep With Anger and Nefertite Nguvu's In the Morning. Hopefully, the entire list will be released soon.

Back of the Theater Live! podcast hosted by two hilarious filmmaker friends, Menelek Lumumba (left) and Hans Charles (right). They are joined by filmmaker, Nefertite Nguvu (center).
Sunday contained more essential goodness.

Uncensored, raw, and humorous, Back of the Theater Live! the podcast was a treat. The roaring chemistry between Hans Charles and Menelek Lumumba sent instant reminders of my brothers-- differing ideals and convictions, overwhelmingly nestled by a fierce, loving bond. For these two (Menelek is a writer/director and Hans Charles is a noted cinematographer) film is that glue bridging them together. They argued, cursed, and hollered. Yet Lumumba gave sweet sentiments to Charles for all his help and dedication in seeing through Lumumba's first writing/directing feature film effort, 1 Angry Black Man (debuted at Blackstar). And the biggest on set struggle involved a couch. The hilarity....

Nefertite Nguvu and Hans Charles discuss their collaboration on her film, In the Morning.
"If you're the smartest in the room, you're on the wrong set," Nefertite Nguvu, who joined the podcast, wisely stated.
Despite various mishaps (sneakily filming scenes on restricted property and being horrendously followed or reusing stale bagels to the point of scrapping mold off or almost losing a whole days worth of shot footage), she managed to complete her award-winning feature, In the Morning thanks to a diligent team. The blood, sweat, and tears are half the battle. It takes not just the tenacity of the filmmaker-- the whole team plays a role in keeping things at bay, each contributing to problem solving. Yet once production ends, the editing process behind another element. And a film could be told in three ways-- the way it is written, the way it is directed, and the way it is edited. Each scenario can conflict emotion. Still, Nguvu and spoke highly of collaboration. Yes, some artists enjoy the natural thrill of isolation, being married to their ideas. However, more often than not, another creator could bring in just the right puzzle pieces at the right possible moment to make the original vision a bigger masterpiece.

ICA curator Meg Onli moderated a discussion on black film experimentalism with Frances Bodomo, Jheanelle Brown, Kevin Jerome Everson, and Terence Nance.
The filled solid "Free Form: Using Nontraditional Cinema to Liberate Story" panel allowed no newcomers-- a "closed mouths don't get fed" situation-- well, in this case closed doors. Twenty minutes later, people streamed out, and I received permission to enter the fortress. The conversation already deep into black creativity, compelled the recesses of a starving soul. Artist/curator Meg Onli asked the tough questions about positions of power, putting out images to an audience that artists couldn't control, and circulation of works through capitalism, bringing up artists such as Sondra Perry. Curator Jheanelle Brown discussed artist responsibility, especially in terms of showing Frances Bodomo's work, Everybody Dies! and the guilty burden of consumption, of accountability. Artist/filmmaker Terence Nance (HBO's Random Acts of Flyness) revealed laughter landing hyper discomforts and the complicated spiritual and ethical gymnastics of self value whilst operating in a hypothetical monetary, tyrannical plantation. Screenwriter/director Bodomo (Afronauts and Everybody Dies!) brought out the importance of creating work for black people and having that be accessible to them specifically as well as breaking the film school rule books dictating that film must contain sequential narrative. Director/writer/editor/artist Kevin Jerome Everson (Cinnamon and Ears, Nose, and Throat) broke down formalistic properties of filmmaking execution. Overall, the authenticity of these great voices delivered abundant food for thought-- the integrity and intelligence outstanding. Plus, they reenforced the notion that it is not black filmmakers' responsibility to teach non-black people about blackness. If they cannot humanize our unique experiences as a people, as a culture, a whole host of talent are already making the stout commitment to do so.

Now I have volunteered many times for Philadelphia Film Festival and Athena Film Festival at Barnard College. In my second year at Blackstar, the homage to ancestors through spiritual creativity arrests strongly, vividly.  The environment is rich and vibrant, pulsing alive with the splendorous hearts of inspiring black geniuses. These artists create films and discuss them as unapologetically black significance. They create images for us, purely for black people, black people always at the forefront no matter what. Just as it is imperative to see ourselves on the screen, we also must see ourselves behind-the-scenes too. That utmost dedication to staying true to their visions even with capitalist hands digging into their pots, is a thing of undeniable strength and dignity.

Final gushworthy highlights: briefly meeting Terence Nance, Frances Bodomo, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and Janine Sherman Barrois. I greeted poet Sandra Sanchez, always a joy to see her out and about. I treasured Shaz Bennett introducing herself and swallowing back that sacred knowledge (check out my review of Blackstar screened Alaska is a Drag which debuted last year at Philadelphia Film Festival). I spoke to Life Is Fare writer/producer/director/actress, Sephora Woldu (will be reviewing her deliciously quirky film soon) and was thrilled to see recent Sundance Institute fellow A-lan Holt (Inamorota director) again. The best thing, however, was being in a cheerful, packed room, applause and whistles for Blackstar Film Festival creator, Maori Karmael Holmes, while her mother stood there, proud and joyful. It was a glorious full circle moment to bear witness-- the mother, the child, and the Blackstar baby.

Oh and the films.... Wow.

Friday, August 10, 2018

'For Love of Ivy' and the Plight of the Bamboozled Black Woman

For Love of Ivy film poster.
"The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her."-- Bob Marley

For Love of Ivy's premise presents harm on top of harm-- Ivy Moore, a twenty-seven-year old black housekeeper wants to quit the employ of a prominent white family, the Austins. In their desperate need to keep her, the siblings, Tim and Gena blackmail Jack Parks, a black conman, to woo her. This is one of the first Hollywood pictures putting a black couple together. Sidney Poitier came up with this extremely problematic story that strikes too close to home.

Ivy (Abbey Lincoln) makes her formal resignation announcement and Mrs. Austin (offscreen Nan Martin) does not take it well. It is real convenient that instead she has been meaning to ask Ivy to call her by her first name, Doris or even "Mom" (why??) in order to feign some deeper connection rather than that of master and slave.  

Sweet, nurturing Ivy is slender and brown clashing with the typical dark skinned, heavier bodied mammy stereotype. She plans to quit housekeeping in order to pursue secretarial school and perhaps then see the world. Every character is obsessed with owning her future. The family needs her to do what they should know how. Jack is a veteran and pretentious divorcee who operates a truck and has an illegal gambling ring. He uses Ivy as a means to securing a greater fortune.

They first meet at the mall. Jack has just been offered the gig and is noticeably uncomfortable. Ivy is clueless. The siblings force Ivy to change dinner plans, allotting for Jack to come over. The dinner is awkward. Ivy, however, seems to like Jack regardless of his abrasive intensity. The next night, they have a second date.

After Jack is exposed, Ivy doesn't get days, weeks, and months to be angry at him. She is hurt for a few minutes. Her ready acceptance of him leaves behind a brittle aftertaste. Jack could have said no, lost the account, and moved on. Instead, he took the bait with that greedy relish in his eyes and took Ivy along for the thrill ride.

Tim (Beau Bridges, far right) invites Jack (Sidney Poitier) to come over for dinner and forces Ivy (Abbey Lincoln, far left) to change the menu because Jack hates pot roast. Co-conspirator Gena (Lauri Peters, second left) is all in. 

The parallels between Ivy's mistreatment and the history of disrespected black women is metaphorically intertwined. It boils down to care and sympathy. The huge issue with the film's narrative is that the deceptive trickster and the naive spinster are stuck in a watered down "take me as I am" love story. The characters are not fleshed out, but familarity lies bared and opened, an old begotten, unhealed wound. Black women have been fooled, led astray by those who have claimed to love us. One moment, avid supporters would wear #SayHerName t-shirts, march for women's rights, and talk about black women nurturing them. In a flash, they would be calling black women names in interviews, in music videos, on social media, spitting on black women while uplifting white and non-black women. For example, black women were the first to be blamed for Nate Parker's failed Birth of a Nation and not his past actions. Of most educated class, black women are not equally paid in America. For Love of Ivy definitely puts Ivy at the bottom, forcing her to pick lowliest of men. She isn't granted the choice of having higher standards.

Opportunistic Jack may like Ivy on some basic level, but love is a leap.

Customs or not, where is the love when Jack is already stuffing his face at the Asian restaurant before Ivy even reaches the table? Where is the love when Jack is quick to inform Ivy he has no intentions of marrying her? Is it when he sates his lust in seconds? Sure, the act is consensual, but it certainly didn't help matters that beforehand Jack kept leaning in for kisses despite Ivy's obvious discomfort. If Ivy had known at verbatim that he was taking advantage, she probably wouldn't have slept with him. The second love scene (the first being implied) is a ravishing man powered by desire, using sex to shut off invasive questioning urged by reasonable curiosity. Ivy complies to Jack's whims as opposed to receiving answers about this secretative man.

Again, it must be addressed that black women are the stones that others step on before reaching the bigger prize-- non black women. After all, during filming, divorcee Poitier had been having an affair with Diahann Carroll. Poitier's good friend Harry Belafonte also had a thing about not marrying black women. Eartha Kitt, one of Belafonte's hosts of black lovers had said:
"The men I wanted to be with, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, dated predominatly white women. I’m talking about the 50s. When Harry Belfonte picks me out of his bed in Philadelphia and said: ‘I don’t want you to take me seriously because no Black woman can do anything for me’. I could not help him to progress into where he was going to go. “A black woman would hold a black man back’, that’s what he told me. If I wanted to marry a black man there wasn’t one because the white girls had them."
Please read this Medium essay on Quincy Jones as well.

For Love of Ivy was seen as a huge milestone. It was  beautiful colors and box office business with black leads. Abbey Lincoln and Sidney Poitier's acting styles are noticeably different. Lincoln has trouble breaking through a gritty script. Poitier brings on so much strong charisma and dynacism, Sometimes Lincoln can match Poitier. Other occasions, they are greatly uneven. Still, there is no denying that the sight of black romance was a historic feat. 

Ivy chooses to leave with Jack. The white family supports this decision. Although saddened by Ivy's plight, they don't seem to regard her well being. Realistically, they should have screamed the outrageousness of being with this man readily eager to and up his business to feign. A man like that is no good man at all. For it to be a black man too is a more painful bruise. A black man eager to up himself on the expense of hurting a black woman with the white man's dime is not romantic, much less humorous.

Ivy sees Jack, this one man who had neglected full fledged honesty, as her window to opportunity. He had ran illegal operations, talked down at her, still retained many secrets. Overall, Jack is relatively a complete stranger despite their physical closeness, which isn't truest of intimacies. Ivy shouldn't have gone off with him. He manipulated her, coaxed her, hadn't truly proved himself worthy, especially of being a stickler in her next journey.

In the end, no one loved Ivy the way she deserved. Wouldn't it have been grand if Ivy held the ticket, the keys to her own driver's seat? That would have been the best start to a film in 1969-- the year before a decade of bonafide black power.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Best TV Couple #1: Kyle Barker & Maxine Shaw

FOX's Living Single had that je ne sais quoi with Kyle and Maxine.
Living Single's Kyle Barker and Maxine Shaw proved that nemeses can be one stop away from true love. Beneath contempt and playground antics, stock broker Kyle and Miss Shaw "attorney at law" had a definitive love jones going on. Their story smoothed over the course of the show, flowing as silkily as velvet wine. Or as Kyle's deep, melodious voice.

Kyle, the upstairs roommate of Overton Wakefield Jones, has a classy elegance draped in beaded ankh jewelry. His rich wardrobe ranges from fine tailored suits and fedora hats to patterned clothes that nod to African heritage. In addition to being an essential asset at his job, he sings on many occasions and it is an alluring talent. On the other hand, husky voiced Maxine is just as in the vogue. She wears sleek power suits in bold colors and patterns and lovely dresses that compliment her slender body shaped as an illustrious ebony statue. She takes charge in and outside of the courtroom, evoking solid determination.

In the first episode, "Judging By the Cover," Kyle says, "you want me" to Maxine and adds his signature growl.

In the fourth episode, "A Kiss Before Lying," Maxine's ex comes to town with his fiancée. She asks Kyle to be her pretend boyfriend at the dinner table. He obliges and teases her throughout the whole ordeal much to the astonishment of their friends. They sit together, close and intimate, looking a beautiful double portrait together. She is uncomfortable with the masquerade. He is overly enjoying the game. One wonders if he is all act.

Maxine and Kyle exchange barbs for remainder of the season, clashing like titans, each one always fighting to obtain that last, cutting remark. Yet, palpable chemistry is ripening.  

The season finale, episode twenty-seven's "What's Next" has Maxine in deep trouble. Maxine tells rich client Sheila Kelly to think about a prenup. Sheila is angry that her fiancé dumps her and demands that Maxine be let go. Instead of taking Maxine's side, the law firm suspends her for giving good advice. Surprised and hurt, Maxine arrives at Khadijah's to drown in booze. Unfortunately, her bestie is busy sorting out a love triangle. She turns to Kyle and they spend the night together underneath kente cloth sheets, in a living room decorated in African celebration.

Season two premiere's "There's Got To Be A Morning After," continues Maxine awaking from Kyle's couch. Shocked and disgusted, they are quick to insult each other. Their friends are astonished. Overton, however, believes Maxine and Kyle are destined. Kyle asks Maxine out to dinner. Their compatibility bursts on the dance floor. They have a hilarious battle taking lead in the tango. Kyle is a traditionalist. Maxine relishes her power. In the end, sharing a tender moment roaring with affection, they decide to stay snippy. Kyle, though, wants more.  

Kyle starts off hot and seductive.....

And Maxine's dress stops him in his track.

He brings it back on the stage-- not only confident enough to sing "My Funny Valentine," but he can look Maxine dead in the eye while doing so.

Maxine tries to play immune, but Kyle's voice is a gift from the heavens.

As Kyle boasts about getting Maxine out of his system, their stares across the room say otherwise.

Maxine is a goner. It is understandable.
"Singing the Blues," episode fifteen, is amazing progression. Kyle is nervous about performing live at an intimate club. He steps on stage and belts with strong, unbelievable prowess-- until Maxine enters in a trench coat and bares a sexy, form fitting dress. Suddenly, Kyle messes up his song and races off stage, embarrassed. She taunts him, gleeful that her little scheme worked. Kyle, however, pays her back in a huge way-- coming back on stage to sing a rendition of "My Funny Valentine," lyrics changed to describe Maxine. His performance is enough to make a woman melt and Maxine is no exception. She alternates between chewing napkins and wiping her blushing face. Afterwards, they share the unspoken soap opera stare.

"Is this really going to happen?" Maxine asks.
"It's been happening!" Kyle exclaims. And this kiss is fire.

The season two finale, "The Shake Up" brings two denials together. After Maxine and others are held up at gunpoint by a bank robber, Kyle unknowingly prevents danger. Maxine jumps on him and kisses him, calling him her hero. She wants to repay him with dinner at her apartment. He doesn't feel comfortable with her praise. He just happened to be at the right place at the right time. When he tells her the truth, she remains persistent and grants in a peck in front of everyone. As Kyle enters Maxine's apartment for the first time, so does the audience. It is a charming, tasteful home with a piano included. They sit at the bench and play a few keys together. Maxine is more receptible, more open with Kyle alone time, more so than in "There's Got To Be A Morning After." Her guard is not up. They wonder what is the next step for them. Kyle pulls her asunder and kisses her in dramatic, movie style fashion.

Season three is filled with sweet highlights. In "Grumpy Old Men," Kyle isn't happy about getting older and Maxine cheers him up at the laundry mat. They are a display of holiday cheer in "Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Dammit," sharing their first Christmas together as a couple with their friends in Canada.

Episode eleven, "Mommy Not Dearest," however, reveals that Maxine doesn't take her relationship seriously. She has told her mother about the girls and Overton, but not about Kyle-- who is her boyfriend. "Wake Up to the Break Up," episode seventeen, nonchalant Maxine lets Kyle to go out on a date. He is fed up with her attitude and breaks up with her. They resume their previous relationship-- despising each other. Still, he helps her run a successful campaign for office.

In the fourth season, all is not what it appears. After repercussions of deflowering a young man in episode ten's "Virgin Territory," Maxine leaves a room and Kyle slyly follows. It is revealed in episode sixteen's "Oh, Solo Mio," that they're having a secret affair. Hot and heaviness plus arguments galore fog up episode seventeen's "Playing House." They have a commitment free rendezvous in a hotel suite (Kyle pretending to be in Japan and Maxine is in Philadelphia). In episode twenty-three's "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," they are jovial and merry, holding hands down Kyle's steps and dancing in the hallway. It is such a terrific scene. Maxine and Kyle can say that their clandestine affair is purely about sex, but they also have fun together.  

Kyle and Maxine kiss goodbye. He releases her and crooks his finger-- the gesture implying, "You're the one."

In "Never Can Say Goodbye," season four's season finale, Kyle tells Maxine that his firm has opened up a location in London. They want him to head it. She pretends not to care and it hurts Kyle. Later, before Kyle enters Sinclaire and Overton's wedding, Maxine blurts out, "I love you."

Season five begins with an emotional two part, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore."  Kyle and Maxine are together. He makes her repeat the three little words. She grimaces at the thought, but obliges. She is sadly mistaken though. He is still leaving. She is angry that he plans to take the job. He asks her to go with him. She makes her case at the airport, pleading with him to stay. But this is not a courtroom. This is real life. He wants her in London. Thus, the two are at an impasse, neither refusing to budge. Thus, this breakup is more detrimental than the first. Their final kiss is passionate and tender, so full of ferocious, undeniable love. He leaves to board his plane and she has a hard time not being affected.

The remainder of fifth season loses its charm and magic. In the series finale, Maxine is pregnant and Kyle is the father via special donation. He returns to town and she is hesitant about telling him. Overton spills the beans. Kyle and Maxine talk it out on the rooftop. Kyle professes his love through song and a touched Maxine hugs him close. They plan to raise their child together in New York City.

Kyle and Maxine inspired the compiling of this list-- a list of various couples from past and current climate. Kyle and Maxine represent a mating of like minded individuals sharing a common ground. A dark skinned girl seldom found a reflection on the small screen. Dark skinned Kyle and Maxine were beautiful figures carried themselves with a sophisticated prestige and wore natural hair in similar locs style-- dismantling myths created by self hating society.

Erika Alexander and T.C. Carson were outstanding together. They made Living Single tremendously pleasing to watch, especially in the recent binging. As an adult watching a sitcom that originally aired during adolescence, there is a new, vibrant energy that comes through, the humor, the significant nods to African heritage, and the love. Kyle and Maxine's sparring sessions had a ton of bite and the smoldering sensuality was too delicious to resist. Many cannot even reach the scope of mimicking this fantastic chapter of pop culture history/herstory. Alexander and Carson's hilarious yet wicked duo-- Maxine and Kyle-- will always be a memorable contribution to black romance on television.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Best TV Couple #2: Devon & Hilary Curtis Hamilton

On Young and the Restless, Hilary (Mishael Morgan) and Devon (Bryton James) deserved more than what was written.
"I can't imagine two people more perfect together." Hilary says to Devon of Cane and Lily Ashby. In reality, it is Hilary and Devon that embody perfection. 
On August of 2013, Hilary formally introduces herself to Devon as Cane's assistant at Crimson Lights Coffeeshop. She gives a contagious smile whilst denying the GC Buzz gossip. In their next shared scene, she asks about his music business. He seems bewildered that she has taken an interest in the family, him in particular. Syrupy sweet Hilary is a scorned Ann Turner, seeking revenge for the death of her mother on the Winters clan with her partner in crime, Mason. In the past, Neil had left Rose Turner to her death and it affected Ann considerably. As villainous Hilary, she planted Neil's diary entries and scandalous staged photos of herself and Cane. She went as far as slipping alcohol into recovering alcoholic Neil's drink.

Once Hilary's schemes are exposed, Devon is disgusted. Neil thinks she is just a girl mourning her mother. Devon believes she is too grown to behave so evilly. He later visits her hotel room and offers her a million dollars to leave town. He shares his upbringing story-- drug addled mother lost to getting high and good hearted, adoptive mother Drusilla who died tragically. Hilary is touched. Mason ends things with, "you're on your own!" Unfazed Hilary touts, "Please. I always was."

Down the line, a reformed Hilary is mending fences, taking on a redemptive leap. Devon, however, cannot stand the sight of her. Every time she enters room, he insults her and takes flight. Hilary understands that forgiveness takes a while. Yet, her damage was mostly inflicted onto Lily, Cane, and Neil-- not necessarily Devon himself. Plus, he starts hanging out with Mason. She calls him out for being quick to befriend Mason over her. He makes a sexist comment and she walks off. Later, she has been waiting for him at the club and suggests that he watch his back where Mason is concerned. She is truly concerned-- no ulterior motive at play.

Lily viciously insults Hilary and Devon defends Hilary against Lily's ire. Hilary takes the high road, hoping for forgiveness and leaves. Lily isn't pleased by Devon taking Hilary's side, but Devon affirms that he doesn't like Hilary. However, he winds up having drinks with Hilary (who noticeably blushes before looking at him) at the Underground while Mason is bartending. Hilary and Devon's interaction is light and cordial-- also too short. Mason, whose busily splurging with Devon's stolen credit card on the sidelines, isn't thrilled that Hilary is warning Devon about him. Hilary cares about Devon's welfare and not Mason's ego. Devon escorts Hilary to the exit and admits to enjoying her company. She giggles and walks out. Devon stares after her. This is definitely the start of something refreshing for both characters. Hilary is slowly gaining Devon's trust without pushing. Devon is seeing Hilary in another light.

So begins a beautiful restart.

Hilary and Devon become friends. Devon is the first to want more.
On Hilary's aptly named "Buy A Billionaire a Beverage Night," she offers to treat Devon in the middle of some cute flirtation. Unfortunately, work calls. Hilary promises a raincheck. It is then a coincidence that Devon is arrested for trashing a club in Las Vegas. After Devon is released from jail, he encounters Hilary at the club, believing that she must love it. She, however, knows Devon would never act in such a manner and tells him so. An obnoxious camera flashing perp interrupts Hilary and Devon's moment. Devon is about to give him a piece of his mind, but Hilary valiantly puts her hands on Devon's chest to prevent further reputational injury and throws the paparazzi out herself. On Christmas Eve, Hilary buys Devon that drink. He tells her about the great Katherine Chancellor-- whom would have likely battled wits against Hilary. Hilary reveals knowing who has stolen his identity. 

A shared New Year's Eve toast caps off Hilary and Devon's growing bond.  In the new year, they are standing on friendship ground. Hilary suggests the theme for Delia's fundraiser, Devon walks in on Hilary changing for Chelsea's fashion show, Devon zips up Hilary's blue dress at that fashion show, and he looks at her walking down the catwalk (super awkward because Neil is too).

Things reach a boiling point. Hilary's misplaced gratitude enters a rocky road with Neil. Devon is pissed that she chooses his father and humiliates her in front of the rest of the family. Lily and Cane are shocked. Lily believes that Hilary will hurt her father (and she will be right). Yet, Hilary is not as conniving and vindictive as Lily believes. Hilary cares deeply about Devon. She takes him to the hospital after he drops a weight on his foot.

One of the best scenes ever.
Devon reveals his feelings to Hilary and she admits the same, but still plans to marry Neil. Devon and Hilary share longing looks at the hot dog wedding. The next few days are the ultimate angst: Devon blurts out he loves Hilary in the elevator, Lily shoves Hilary in a pool, and Devon helps her dry off. The deep yearning simmers as Devon sees Hilary in a towel and proclaims the challenges of wanting forbidden fruit. When Hilary comes back to retrieve her clothes, Lily plays the petty game. That left Hilary and Devon to look themselves. Devon actually finds a style similar to her soaked jacket, but Hilary wants to know why Devon is anxious to leave town. She trips and he catches her. They kiss and walk to the tabletop-- Devon's shirt is gone and Hilary's top is almost ripped to shreds. Soon, Devon sits with Neil ad Hilary at dinner and impressively taps a dollar without dropping quarters. Neil is called out of town for business, leaving Hilary and Devon alone. Devon takes her home, but his car suddenly stops. They bond again with Hilary explaining a fear of cows and Greek mythology about Atlas and his seven daughters. Devon listens attentively. They then dance under the stars.

By August, Hilary professes her love to Devon in a bar outside of town. Neil's bad timing continues. At a recent purchased house (a gift for Hilary), Neil has electrocuted himself. He winds up blind and guilt stricken Hilary recommits to her marriage.

Hilary and Devon's need for each other is too impossible to deny. They make love. The affair travels over Genoa City and spreads to New York City and Chicago. Each time, Hilary is drawn back into the web of rarely expressed love. Their time spent is not about appeasing lustful appetite. Sure, Hilary and Devon are severely attracted to one another. Yes, the love scenes are glorious firestarters. Most importantly, their shared dreams and hopes for the future supplied by beautiful gestures make for sweet visuals despite the wrongness of their actions. Whether it is Devon and Hilary making up romantic fiction based in Miami or Hilary gently stroking Devon's face after telling him she wasn't pregnant or Devon putting a giant pink orchid behind Hilary's ear in the "office island getaway," these are special moments that matter. Hilary admits that when she sees a child in the future, she pictures Devon as the father.

Neil's blindness is miraculously cured after seeing Devon and Hilary together. This would begin Neil's three year revenge. First, Devon and Hilary plan for a wonderful Valentine's Day. Lily, Cane, Neil, Jill, and Colin along with Hilary and Devon agree to take a private plane ride together. Neil announces on board that he can see and outs Hilary's affair with Devon. The plane crashes in a horrendous snow blizzard and Hilary is badly hurt. At the hospital, Hilary pretends to have played them both in a vain effort to repair a father/son relationship.

For months, they're hostile to each other. Neil kills an unborn child and is almost sent to prison. Hilary saves him from the fate, but he shows no gratitude. Devon is indebted. They start to spend time together again including playing tennis. Hilary hopes they can be friends, but Devon seduces her. Hilary and Devon are back together. And they're the only ones happy about it. He proposes and she accepts. As they plan their wedding, obsessive Neil lurks in every corner, still plotting to destroy them after all that Hilary sacrificed for him. Neil has Devon drugged on his wedding night and terrifies the hell out of Hilary with dark, sadistic conversation. She looks fearful of him.

Their official wedding photo.

Hilary and Devon are married in a breathtaking ceremony. They take off for a honeymoon in the mountains via private helicopter and spend a lovely day celebrating their next chapter as newlyweds. Unfortunately, Neil follows them, corners Hilary on the mountain, and causes her fall. Devon, who doesn't know her whereabouts, is left bereft and terrified. The police thinks he is responsible. For months, he searches for his beloved, offering a huge reward.

Married at last.

Meanwhile, a sick, demented old man-- Devon's own father-- has held been holding comatose Hilary hostage in the house he bought for her. It is the sound of Devon's panic stricken voice on television that causes her body to move at last. After she is put of coma, she has a strange, twisted case of amnesia, forgetting Devon and the gratitude for kidnapper Neil is rehashed love. It takes a long, torturous while for Hilary to remember Devon. He is thrilled and they reunite. She wants to be part of the foundation, but clashes with Lily. Everyone finds out that Neil kidnapped Hilary and Devon still goes into business with him. Lily, longest standing grudge holder, blames Hilary for her own accident and doesn't blast Neil at all because she believes Hilary gets what she deserves.

Later in the year, Devon buys GC Buzz and Hilary hosts. He fires her because her ethics clash with his positive direction for the show. An angry Hilary gets an agent named Barry and convinces him to lie to Devon about job offers. Barry does say that Hilary has potential. She prefers to have her husband grovel instead. Meanwhile, Devon purchases a penthouse without Hilary's consent. Though she is reluctant--he continues making swift life decisions without her-- she loves the place. After a year and several months of marriage, Hilary and Devon finally have a home to call their own and it is not a hotel room. Then Devon agrees to let Hilary host GC Buzz and executive produce. Devon finds out from Lily that Hilary lied about other job offers. Hilary apologies and tells Devon that she wants something that is truly hers. Lily is furious that they're happy at the benefit. Hilary's part in Mariah's red carpet trip is exposed and Devon is livid. They have a massive fight. Devon's speeding causes an awful wreckage and horrified Hilary keeps a bedside vigil. He temporarily has amnesia. Hilary uses it as an opportunity to start fresh. Devon remembers and draws up divorce papers. Hilary refuses to sign and doesn't care about the money. She tries to change his mind, but he is listening to the crows of his family. She soon gives up and signs. She is devastated that Devon has moved on with Mariah.

They have their moments including Devon comforting Hilary after she becomes a victim of revenge porn. Their camaraderie picks up again.

Hilary wants to have a baby and asks Devon to be the father. He accepts. Lily and Cane lock Hilary up in the office, causing her to miss her scheduled appointment. Devon rescues Hilary and comforts her. They wind up spending the whole night and better part of the following morning making a baby the old fashioned way. Devon implies that it is just about a baby and nothing more. Hilary believes she is pregnant only to discover that she isn't. She is shattered. In a very mature act, she tells Devon that she isn't pregnant and asks for his help. He nods. Weeks later, Hilary gets her miracle and creatively announces her news to Devon-- their baby pictures + her.

Devon and Hilary are making sure that the baby is alright.
Vicious, hypocritical Lily, who still hates Hilary and doesn't feel that she deserves the gift of motherhood, runs a red light. A car plows right into the passenger side of the vehicle-- right where Hilary is sitting. At the hospital, Hilary is rushed to surgery. Sadly, she loses the baby. She and Devon are overcome with grief that their time as parents abruptly ended. To add further tragedy, Devon discovers that Hilary will not make it either. He proposes marriage. Hilary is astonished that he wants to marry her so soon, in the hospital no less. She knows something is wrong, especially considering that people are visiting her and giving sob stories as if her hospital room turned into a confessional.

Hilary and Devon are married again.

Phyllis tells Hilary that the doctors cannot do anything more for her. Hilary is beyond hurt.

"It's not fair. I want to marry him. I want to have his kids. I want to grow old with him."

Hilary receives one fulfilled wish-- marrying her soulmate, Devon. The ceremony is intimate, surrounded by family and friends; those who loved Hilary and those who had a strange way of showing love to Devon. She struggles through her vows. Alone at last, Devon has medical clearance to share celebratory champagne with his true love. They discuss everything-- dreams of a future that would be denied from them. Hilary chokes, hoping to have a celebration funeral with everyone wearing hats and for Devon to move on. Devon lays on the hospital bed, holding Hilary close as they reflect on their past, including seven layer bars and constellations. As Devon tearfully recites Hilary's mythology about Pleiades, she dies peacefully in his arms, her last words being, "maybe, maybe I did do something right, huh?"

Emmy nominee Mishael Morgan's chemistry with Emmy winner Bryton James will be infinitely missed.
Bryton James and Mishael Morgan's charismatic portrayal as Devon and Hilary Curtis Hamilton will go down in supercouple history as two dynamic individuals who had a noticeable spark since their first meeting. They had truly brought to silver screen a wonderful, believable couple whose roaring passions ignited in love and war. Their tumultuous spats and steamy togetherness lit up afternoons. James and Morgan played fire and ice, the tension of forbidden, and the explosion of love to commendable heights. From the beginning to the last reprise, Hilary and Devon's once-in-a-lifetime romance is one of the best and it is all due to the brilliant performers behind these two incredibly layered characters.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Best TV Couple #3: Buffy Summers & Angel

Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz) were ultimate forbidden love
When Buffy Summers was warned about The Harvest by a wisecracking cryptic man, who knew that it would ignite the pinnacle of star crossed romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Throughout season one campiness, tension rose between The Chosen One and the man who turned out to be a sworn enemy-- a vampire with a soul cursed by a gypsy clan. For the first few episodes, he was always stopping by at The Bronze (the only popular nightclub for teens) to let her know danger lurked. Though, he could have taken things under control, he seemed to believe her capable of anything despite her "spryness."

Blond haired, stylish Buffy wanted to be a normal sixteen-year-old girl. The vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness stood in the way. Buffy also decides that she doesn't want to hang with Cordelia's crew (a reflection of her old vain shallowness aka Spordelia). Instead, Buffy chooses to be among the misfits-- Xander and intelligent, computer nerd, Wiccan-in-training, Willow. Giles, her new Watcher, is also Sunnydale High School's librarian. He also had that teenage rebellion for destiny in common with Buffy-- the reluctant vampire slayer-- as he didn't want to be a Watcher(disclosed in season two's "The Dark Ages").

Buffy's tall, dark, and attractive stranger gave her his name and a silver cross in episode one's "The Harvest." He is impressed that she defeats the Hellmouth danger. In episode four's "Teacher's Pet," he tells her to keep his borrowed jacket. In episode five's "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date," Buffy makes Angel jealous with Emily Dickinson loving Owen. Buffy then realizes that she needs a man that could accept her spooky nightlife without being in peril.

"You're in danger, Girl."
In episode seven's "Angel," the mystery of Buffy's nighttime friend is a surprising reveal. They first have a wild night with Angel saving her from The Three (three giant vampires sent by The Master), running to her place for cover, Buffy bandaging up his wound, and Angel meeting Joyce, Buffy's mother. He then spends the remainder of the night in Buffy's room, lying on the floor next to Buffy's bed-- the ideal gentleman. When she returns home from school and believes that he read her journal, carelessly revealing her infatuation with him, he confesses his own agonizing desires. The kiss turns into a heavy makeout session. As it deepens, Angel vamps out and Buffy screams. Buffy tells Giles and company of Angel's vampire status and read all about Angelus. Of course, Xander is gleeful that Buffy has to kill him. Darla wants Angel back into the fold (despite his soul?) and sabotages Buffy's trust in him. Buffy throws Angel out of her house (with great pitching strength). She plots to kill the one with an angelic face, ready to use the crossbow. Angel and Buffy battle it out and then come to a stunning conclusion-- Buffy is willing to have Angel feed on her (he will in the future). Before he can speak, Darla interrupts their charged moment, guns blazing. Buffy learns that Darla bit her mother and that Darla was the one who made Angel. He plummets a stake into his sire's heart, shares a look with Buffy, and walks away. Later, at the Bronze, they mutually decide to not become anything. Still, they share a hot goodbye kiss. Buffy leaves first. Angel watches her retreating form, the silver cross (that he had given her) having left a scorched mark on his collarbone.

Angel saves Buffy's friends without her knowledge in episode eleven's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" and that begins his honorary addition to the Scooby gang. He was originally helping Giles retrieve a rare codex that contains the prophecy about Buffy and The Master. Buffy is happy to see Angel in "Prophecy Girl," but is crushed to learn that she will die at The Master's hand. She rips off his necklace and rushes out of the library, terrified of dying young. Eventually, she has a change of heart, knocking Giles out in the process, donning her necklace, and allowing The Anointed One, a child, to lead her down to Fruit Punch Mouth. She dies for a few minutes. Xander is able to revive her with Angel looking on. Buffy defeats The Master, the Hellmouth closes, and they all party. Angel is the last person to compliment Buffy on her gorgeous dress.

Angel tries to keep Buffy at a distance, but the heart wants what it wants-- unbeating or not.
With a few misfires, Buffy and Angel's forbidden relationship takes off in the second season. In episode one's "When She Was Bad," Buffy returns from Los Angeles in a sunken place, mean to everyone. Angel visits her bedroom and is struck by her callous behavior, but admits that he missed her. Later, she falls apart in Angel's arms. Buffy and Angel argue in "Some Assembly Required," but they mend fences and she walks him home. In episode five's "Reptile Boy," Angel is hesitant to pursue more than fighting demons side by side. Buffy takes her hurt out on a joined date with Cordelia to a shady fraternity house. There, she dances with a college boy and drinks alcohol for the first time. Angel and the Scooby gang save the day and Angel asks Buffy out on a date. The next episode, "Halloween," Buffy doesn't feel adequate compared to Cordelia or other women of Angel's past. She and Willow take a peek at The Watcher Diaries. Buffy finds a pink period dress at a new costume shop, but once the Janus statue turns everyone into their respective costumes, Buffy is a clingy, damsel in distress. In "Lie To Me," Angel tells Buffy about how he tortured Drusilla before turning her into a vampire. This honesty is a reminder to Buffy that Angel's past is stained with not only countless death and destruction, but Angelus's special form of torment to his victims. Great foreshadowing as well.

In episode nine's "What's My Line: Part 1," Angel plans a date with Buffy at the skating rink that's closed on Tuesdays. For a while, Buffy is skating around the rink, free of duty. An Order of Taraka assassin suddenly battles her on the ice. Angel joins the fray. Buffy manages to kill the warrior with the sliver blade of her skate. Angel then realizes that she is in grave danger. Buffy sees that Angel is hurt. He is ashamed that she touches him in his game face visage. She kisses him-- fangs and all. With the combination of Angel's fear and Giles' anxiety, Buffy comes to Angel's apartment (he's not available) and sleeps metaphorically wrapped in the ghost of his presence. This illustrates that Angel represented safety and comfort to Buffy.

In "What's My Line" Part II, Angel is kidnapped by Spike in order to heal a sick Drusilla and Buffy is introduced to Kendra the Vampire Slayer-- called after Buffy died for a second.  Together, the girls save Angel from Spike and Drusilla and the Order of Taraka assassins are no longer a threat.

Buffy and Angel profess their love for each other. But the consequences are severe.

"Surprise" begins Buffy's birthday disasters. Buffy has a trip hoppy dream that Drusilla kills Angel. She comes to his apartment before classes and informs him. Things get hot and heavy between them-- lots of kisses and touches and heavy breathing. They cannot break away enough for air. Desire is strong and boiling hotly. Jenny Calendar, Giles' on/off high school computer tech girlfriend, drives Buffy to her surprise party. They get caught up with sneaky vampire henchmen. Buffy crashes through the location and stakes a vampire. Her friends watch stunned. She has managed to retrieve a giant box. When she opens it, a hand reaches out and chokes her. Angel is able to pull the arm back inside the box. They learn that it is a part of The Judge-- a bringer of Armageddon. Jenny volunteers Angel to take it far away from Sunnydale. He agrees. Buffy is morose at the thought of him leaving her on her birthday. To travel by ship is his only option, for airplane offers no guaranteed protection against the sunlight.

At the docks, Buffy and Angel are saying goodbye. He gives her a Claddagh ring-- an Irish symbol of love, loyalty and friendship.
"Wear it with your heart facing toward you. It means you belong to someone." 
They are ambushed. Angel has to choose between chasing the vampires with the stolen arm or diving into the murky waters to retrieve Buffy. He chooses the latter. The two sneak into Spike and Dru's warehouse and are shocked to see that The Judge has been assembled. Spike and the crew order to have them executed. Buffy manages to kick the big blue monster. She and Angel flee into the sewers and back into his apartment. She sits on his bed, cold and shivering. He offers her a change of clothes. When she hisses, he sits beside her and inspects the wound. These two valiant heroes are completely vulnerable, having almost lost each other several times in a course of one day. It makes perfect sense that they bare their hearts and souls, taking the leap into the euphoric pleasures of love-- or in Angel's delicate case, a moment of true happiness. In that moment of true happiness, he learns love, tenderness, and worth, temporarily forgetting that he is burdened with a pricy cursed. In the end, Angel cannot have an afterglow with Buffy. He loses his soul instead.

Episode fourteen's "Innocence" is considered a magnificent triumph despite Buffy's tremulous early entry into adulthood. Buffy discovers Angel is Angelus in a most damaging emotional/mental scene. The man she had trusted and relied on, now gone, Buffy's world is rocked asunder and will never be the same again. The Scooby gang find out Jenny Calendar is a descendent of the tribe that cursed Angel. Her lack of disclosing the truth will ultimately cause her death.

"Close your eyes."

For the remainder of second season, The Big Bad is Angelus. Buffy struggles with attending high school and keeping her friends safe from his wrath. At the same time, he is psychologically testing her, playing on her love for his human side to drive her as insane as Drusilla. In complex and devastating "Passion," episode nineteen, Angelus puts a twisted plan in motion, starting off by planting drawings of Buffy in her bedroom and leaving dead animals to Willow. When he gets wind of Jenny finding the Orb of Thesulah, he kills her after a most vicious cat and mouse game. To further complicate matters, he arranges Giles' house to romantic proportions and leaves Jenny's dead body for Giles to find. She's lying down, void and vacant on his bed. An enraged Giles goes after Angelus and Buffy saves him, but she cannot kill Angelus. The gang revokes his invitation into their homes and cars.

The two part season finale, "Becoming," entails Angel's beginning. He was Liam-- an Irish lay about with nothing to offer the world. No dreams. No ambition. Until he meets Darla. He is changed into a vampire and feeds on anything in sight. In the present, Angelus has set up a trap for Buffy in order for his goons to kidnap her friends. He wants to open Acathla, a demonic portal that swallows the world into hell. After losing Kendra, being expelled from Sunnydale High School, and kicked out of her mother's house, Buffy and Xander go to Crawford Mansion to rescue Giles. Xander, knowing that Willow is attempting to restore Angel's soul, doesn't tell Buffy. Thus, Buffy and Angelus have an epic one on one swordfight. Buffy loses her sword. Just as Angelus is set to slay her, she majestically cups the blade and resumes the fight. Suddenly, right about to best him, Angel is back. First confused, then overjoyed, Buffy is gracious to see him. Her birthday is the last thing he remembers. As they reunite, Acathla opens and Buffy has to make a heartbreaking sacrifice.

Angel shows up for Buffy's prom to give her a special night.

Season three, Buffy has dreams and nightmares about Angel. By episode three, she tries to close the chapter, laying her Claddagh ring on the ground of Crawford Mansion. She leaves. He returns stark naked, her Claddagh ring likely trapped below in his place. In "Beauty and the Beasts," Buffy is astonished that he is alive and quite untamed. She chains him up in the mansion and visits him in between classes. He doesn't recognize her. Yet at the end, he saves her life and finally utters her name. While he troubly sleeps on the mansion floor, she watches over him, narrating a passage of Jack London's "Call of the Wild."

Buffy and Angel resume a relationship that struggles at the seams. Despite many breaks, they have solid moments. In episode seven's "Revelations," Buffy and Angel are practicing tai chi together and later kiss passionately. Xander's disgust ruins the rest of the episode. In episode eight's "Lover's Walk," they end things. Yet in episode ten's "Amends (aka "A Buffy Christmas")," Angel is tormented by The First Evil. They want him to kill Buffy and manipulate his and Buffy's shared dreams as gratifying temptation. On the cliff, Angel vows to wait for sunrise and Buffy pleads with him to stay and fight. Their conversation is raw and necessary, a spilling of hurt, anguish, and love. Angel is rescued by supernatural snowfall. "Helpless," episode twelve, begins a gloomy Buffy birthday. The episode begins with Angel and Buffy's training session, Buffy besting Angel with a humorously strategic French loaf. They can't even talk about "satisfaction" without extreme awkwardness. As Buffy is slowly losing her strength (thanks to The Watchers Council having Giles inject a hormone, a Slayer's 18th birthday tradition), she shares her fears. He gifts her a wispy wrapped book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnets From the Portuguese" and admits that he watched her Slayer calling. He believes that her heart is the largest resource of her strength. They hug. Then, she sadly loses her poetry book whilst being chased down by a mentally ill vampire.  It is the second consecutive Angel birthday gift that Buffy loses. In episode seventeen's "Enemies," Buffy and Angel see a sensuous foreign film and kiss outside on the street. The nice PDA is interrupted by Faith-- the rogue slayer turned to the dark side, having not come to real terms with killing a man in earlier episode fourteen and fifteen's "Bad Girls" and "Consequences." Buffy cannot deal with Angel feigning pretend evil and tries to use her insecurity in episode eighteen's "Earshot"-- when she kills a demon and inherits its powers to read minds. Yet like a mirror, Angel has no reflection-- no thoughts. Still, he only loves Buffy. He kills the demon, races to Buffy's house in the morning, wrapped under a blanket, and feeds her the antidote.

Episode twenty's "The Prom" breaks the heart. Through dreams of Buffy in a Vera Wang wedding gown and his impeccable Hugo Boss suit bursting into flames and a visit from Joyce Summers, Angel decides to dump Buffy in the sewer. He wants her to be able to have children, dally in the sunlight, be loved without reservations. Although they rarely discussed the clause, much less finding an antidote, Angel likely also believes that "true happiness" no longer extends to sexual experience, but that anything could trigger a soulless return. Remembering what he did as Angelus to Buffy, Angel doesn't want that repeated. Buffy is crushed though, breaking down in Willow's arms, broken beyond belief. However, she doesn't let a break up deter her from saving her fellow classmates from demon dogs. She is rewarded a new honor-- Class Protector. Angel enters and dances with her to The Sundays' "Wild Horses," giving her that one perfect night.

On "Graduation Day Part I," Angel is struck with a poisoned arrow. The cure is to drain the blood of a Slayer. Buffy makes no hesitation about delivering Faith to Angel. In their great big showdown, Buffy and Faith fight-- evenly matched. Buffy plunges Faith's own dagger into Faith's stomach, but Faith manages to escape. In the second part, Buffy forces Angel to drink her. The scene is so erotic, Angel likely had another "moment of happiness" right then and there. Buffy manages to have enough strength to hit Angel on the head. Angel's bite would be the only scar that doesn't heal on Buffy.

After they defeat the mayor snake, Angel shares one look at Buffy through the smoky abyss and leaves to save lost souls in Los Angeles-- the very place he first met her.

After Buffy and Angel have tea and crackers, they also enjoy each other on the kitchen table as well.

Angel secretly comes to Buffy and her team's aide in season four's crossover event, "Pangs."
However, Angel's episode, "I Will Remember You," closes the real chapter on Buffy and Angel's relationship. Sure, Buffy will never know the truth. Angel carries the burden of spending a whole day as a human being. From their encounter in Angel's office to the sewer talk to the scorching symbolic kiss on the pier in the sunlight to the full blown intimacy in Angel's apartment (so similar to the old one), Buffy and Angel were enjoying the base part of Angel's human status after the Mohra demon's blood mixed with his. However, the Mohra demon hadn't died. Angel thinks he could take him on, but he can't as a flesh and blood mortal. Buffy saves his life. Angel goes behind her back to talk to The Powers That Be, offering to exchange the only single drop of happiness he has ever known in order for Buffy to live. When he tells Buffy, she is completely heartbroken. They kiss and cry together as time quickly runs out. Sadly enough, Buffy's outfit (the white shirt and grey pants) is the same one she wears in "The Gift." The Powers That Be referenced the foretelling of her death.

Buffy makes her final appearance on Angel's "Sanctuary"-- a very uncomfortable episode. Angel returns to Sunnydale in season four's "The Yoko Factor" (to apologize), season five's "Forever" (he comes to pay his respects to Joyce and shares affectionate words and kisses with Buffy), and season seven's series finale, "Chosen" (they fight side by side for the last time and kiss).

With their strong, magnetic force of a love story, Buffy and Angel went through hell and back to become a couple. Time was not on the side of an unorthodox pairing of a vampire slayer and a vampire with a soul. They spent nights staking vampires and other demons, holding hands, kissing, staring into each other's souls, training, and other romantic activities, the hourglass always filtering down its sand for them.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz were insatiably good together. They played two flawed heroes, fighting on the side of good whilst desperately holding onto the throes of an utterly poetic first love. When they came together, it was a splendid rush of longing, affection, and tenderness. Gellar and Boreanaz had the incredible depth to demonstrate why Buffy and Angel needed each other and why they had to be kept apart. Buffy and Angel's tragic tale of woe wouldn't have been possible if not for the chemistry between these two phenomenal actors.