As I mentioned last week and as I mention always and forever, I absolutely just love created families. These can take a whole variety of forms. They’re based in organizations, in necessity, in friendship, in trust, in, uhm, vampirism, in care for others, in whatever. And they are beautiful. I heard in work orientation that the “my friends are my family” thing is sort of unique to the younger generations, and I suppose I understand how that’s true (it’s certainly true in my case, but I think that comes as much from generational differences as from my latching onto a few people with everything I have) but it has fascinated and will always fascinate me.
Honorable mentions to the Angel Investigations crew, who I’ll discuss a teensy bit more in a minute, and the cast of Community, neither of whom I’m discussing in detail because I’m still working through those two particular shows, but augh I love them already. I’m just waiting till I’m done to discuss. Another honorable mention, actually, to Dany (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons and her khalasar, which is a kind of family in its way (and, y’know, “blood of my blood” and stuff) but since it’s more conceptual/re: dragons than re: specific characters (I mean Jorah [Iain Glen], yeah, and her maids, though that’s a whole other meta, but) I’m not going into it much.
6. Sofia has four or five mommies and a daddy or two (Deadwood)
This one is complicated because strictly speaking, Alma (Molly Parker) basically adopts Sofia (Bree Seanna Wall), and Alma and Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) do get married. But it’s my favorite adoptive mommy&daddy situation ever, basically; it’s different than if Alma was actively seeking a child to adopt, which is cool too, but this is more a case of stumbling into it and deciding that yes, she liked the little impromptu family. And Ellsworth was a great fake dad. I also bring this up because this is a relatively literal “it takes a village to raise a child” situation – I guess it’s more “Sofia has a mommy and three or four aunt figures” than the above, I just like how the above sounds. Considering that Sofia is influenced by Trixie (Paula Malcomson) and Jane (Robin Weigert), to a lesser extent Martha (Anna Gunn) and occasionally even Joanie (Kim Dickens), as well as sometimes having Sol (John Hawkes) and Seth (Timothy Olyphant) in her life (and even Bill [Keith Carradine] a teensy bit back in the day), well. Everyone is contributing to the life of this one adorable little girl, and I think it’s really sweet.
5. The Sons of Anarchy (Sons of Anarchy)
Wow, I don’t have nearly as much meta about these guys as I do about, y’know, everyone else, but they’re worth mentioning. They’re totally a family, and for a long time Clay (Ron Perlman) and Gemma (Katey Sagal) were the daddy and mommy, easy; they’re married, yes, and Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is their RL kid, and the whole mess with Maureen (Paula Malcomson) and Trinny (Zoe Boyle) and Abel and Tara (Maggie Siff) and my point is there are a lot of blood relations, yes, but the whole extended club is family in their way. Sometimes a family that doesn’t get on that well, but family nonetheless.
4. I heard it called “the family Godric” somewhere online and I don’t remember where, but I’m going with it (True Blood)
(Well, technically vampire families are by blood, just not in “we share blood because I literally contributed to the creation of your DNA” way. But they count, because it’s a family that’s chosen and created.) The family Godric is all of the vampires who are descended from the bloodline created by now-deceased Godric (Allan Hyde), with his children Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Nora (Lucy Griffiths), Eric’s child Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), and Pam’s child Tara (Rutina Wesley). And now I’m all curious about whether Nora’s ever been a maker. But I’m shutting up about it now. Because even vampire families aren’t always by blood, I also sort of count Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) in the family Godric – well, Bill (Stephen Moyer) was her maker, but Eric and Pam did foster her when she was a newborn, and she totally does act like Pam’s bratty little sister sometimes. (Bill can maybe be the uncle in the family, the one that nobody really likes that much but they’ve all had to deal with him.) And now that the family Godric is a proper thing, ridiculous family times with the whole crowd now that they all know each other is one of three things I want from season six. I basically just want them acting like they’re all in high school: Pam and Tara, the snarky ones who make out with each other and then threaten you with physical violence just ‘cause and insult everyone, Nora the socially maladjusted genius child (since going from the Authority to not just that is probably sort of like going from private school to public school or something) just being dry and British all over, Eric the golden boy, the noble bad boy type, and for good measure Jessica naïve and also not naïve “good girl” who isn’t really that “good,” just chipper. This is their family dynamic, and yep, it works for me and I like it.
3. The Whirlwind (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel)
(Also technically a bloodline, but.) Darla (Julie Benz), who sired Angelus (David Boreanaz), who sired Drusilla (Juliet Landau), who sired Spike (James Marsters). In the above vampire family, the lines between parent and child are a little blurry, but in the Whirlwind, even taking the romantic relationships out of the equation, it’s very clear who’s what: Darla and Angel are the parents, period, and Dru and Spike are the kids, period. Or at least it’s very clearly big sister and brother/little sister and brother. There is no room for flexibility with these guys, and who’s in charge is clear, period. Age isn’t relative, it’s very necessary. But despite the fact that these guys are evil and crazy, their interactions are intriguing. A lot of bad goes down, yes, but… well, this.
2. The Scoobies (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
(Okay, at this point I’ve seen enough of Angel to have seen a lot of the Whirlwind flashbacks, which I’d read about anyway, but I’m still in season two, so I don’t know enough about the whole Angel Investigations group to really discuss their forever dynamic. Since people add in on the fairly regular. I love them as far as I know them, though. I love them a lot. I just don’t have intelligent thoughts in excess yet.) This is a whole lot of characters: Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicholas Brendon), Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), Angel (David Boreanaz), Oz (Seth Green), Anya (Emma Caulfield), Riley (Marc Blucas), Tara (Amber Benson), Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg), Spike (James Marsters), even sort of Andrew (Tom Lenk) and Faith (Eliza Dushku), not to mention I guess technically the Potentials sort of count, and eh, I’m probably forgetting to throw others in there because there are so many Scoobies. What I love about the Scooby Gang is that yes, they’re a family, they’re a family easily, but they’re variable. The lineup changes all the time. Several of the Scoobies are reformed baddies to one extent or another. The group is comprised of Slayers, of witches, of vampires, of ex-demons, of ex-energy blobs, of (ex-)soldiers, of (ex-)Watchers, of werewolves, of just regular people hanging out fighting the good fight. Provided they want to fight the good fight and aren’t assholes, any variety of person can wind up a Scooby, and everyone gives something unique and necessary to the group. Giles is the dad, of course; Buffy and Dawn play big/little sister pretty obviously, Xander’s the big brother, Willow’s sort of the middle sister who’s trying to prove herself, Cordy and Anya are the sometimes-abrasive cousins, Tara’s the big sister who ends up playing mom, Oz is the middle brother who’s shrugging and going along with it, Angel’s sort of the older cousin type who never knows what to do with himself at these family things, Andrew’s the twerpy little brother, Spike and Faith are the rebellious middle children who also want to prove themselves, it’s just this big mess of how people work together.
1. The crew of Serenity (Firefly)
The best best ain’t always blood family that ever has been and ever will be. Literally they are the reason I started saying “family ain’t always blood,” which should be abso-bloody-lutely obvious, really. Mal (Nathan Fillion), Zoe (Gina Torres), Wash (Alan Tudyk), Kaylee (Jewel Staite), Jayne (Adam Baldwin), Inara (Morena Baccarin), Simon (Sean Maher), River (Summer Glau), Book (Ron Glass), and it doesn’t matter that Zoe and Wash are married or that Simon and River are siblings for true, it is perfect. Mal’s the protective big brother and occasionally the daddy, Book’s sort of the grandpa or the kindly uncle (sorry, Book, it’s true), Zoe and Inara are big sisters forever, Jayne’s the douche big brother, Wash and Kaylee are the middle siblings (Kaylee tending to be little sister a lot of the time, but not always), Simon’s the mannersly big brother, River’s the littlest sister forever. But the magical thing about these guys is that even in all of the gēgē/dìdì/jiějie/mèimei stuff, it’s not like the roles are static. Big sisters/brothers look after little sisters/brothers or after each other, but little sisters, for example, look after big brothers (and everyone else). Captain Daddy doesn’t treat l’il albatross like a child exactly (sometimes treats her like a liability, but that’s when it’s reasonable, not knowing everything, to feel that way) and when Zoe comic-canonically births her child, that child is going to have a whole passel of aunts and uncles. L’il Kaylee is clearly everyone’s little sister (the baby before River shows up) but nobody ever underestimates her on account of it. Everyone looks out for each other. They made this family that counts for so much, that often counts for more than the families they were born to anymore, that matters so much they’ll all die for it if need be and a couple of them do. It’s a family made by circumstance, by proximity, by camaraderie, by belief, but by love most of all, absolute and pure and real familial love that is so so good.
–your fangirl heroine.