Because Popes practically ruled the Western world from ancient Rome to the "screw you" spirit of the French Revolution, the supremacy of the Catholic church is reflected in, among other things, weird, obscure holidays.
Since 1608, today, October 2, has apparently been the day to honor The Feast of the Guardian Angels (according to the BBC, who probably had to Google it first). The belief that each soul is assigned a guardian angel who watches over you for your entire life, after which the winged stalker escorts you to heaven, has become a common trope in pop culture. While TV's Touched by an Angel, Highway to Heaven, and the Hallmark Channel have depicted earnest, wholesome angels as divine intermediaries between humans and an unknowable, all powerful deity, today we're more interested in angels who scheme, swear, and screw like humans.
Darren Swimmer, executive producer of the fan-favorite fantasy series Shadowhunters, notes, "What's interesting is that throughout the history of angels on TV, they've always remained somewhat elusive and ineffable. They're not easy characters to pin down. And since you didn't used to have darker angels on television, so people tend to want to gravitate to edgier material because it's something different."
That's not to say that the idea of angels being closer to us lowly humans than some divine god is new. In Thomas Aquinas' 1485 Summa Theologica, he relegated guardian angels as the lowest rank in the hierarchy: a characteristic we love to explore in the form of TV angels who show their stupidity and lack social grace and maybe even sin? From the comedy of NBC's The Good Place and TBS' Miracle Workers to the dramedy of CW's Supernatural and the trio of current series adapted from Neil Gaiman's oeuvre of mythological mindf*cks, we love to watch these angels sin.
Ranked from most to least wholesome, our favorite angels are:
3. Shadowhunters: Jonathan (Will Tudor)
To be honest, I've never seen a single episode of Shadowhunters. It's apparently based on Cassandra Clare's popular young adult fiction, and I can't even say I fully understand the premise: Teenage Clary Fray discovers that she's actually a species of human-angel hybrid (called what else but Shadowhunters), and after her mom is kidnapped she joins fellow hunters to hunt down the demons responsible.
Angels are a recurring feature in a number of young adult series. Why? Maybe angelic narratives naturally exist in the same state of existential crisis and self-discovery that mark the trials of coming-of-age; maybe the alienation and de-familiarization of a fallen angel navigating this flawed, chaotic society are echoes of the crippling pressure on teens to act more responsibly than the adults who have failed them; maybe black wings are just sexy. Who's to say?
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