A precursor before we begin: this is the first half of a two-part post about Angel. I thought it would be interesting to really look at these characters from a different lens than I normally do. In this case, I'm focusing in on everything about Angel that is absolutely terrible and in the most snarky tone I can muster, Why? Well, because it's fun, really. We'll get to the other reason at the end. Anyway, here we go.
Oh, Angel. You have taken a lot of flak from fans in the past and, now more than ever, you have transformed into the fandom's butt monkey. You get a bad rap but, let's be honest, you kind of brought it on yourself, huh? Now, don't pout (or brood), Captain Forehead, it's not that I don't love you, it's just that I think you are a solution comprised of water and vinegar. Just a little! There's heart and soul and... (blergh) champion in there too but, at some point, you're going to have to embrace the douche that is you. You're not alone, either. This is Buffy fandom, otherwise known as Douches Anonymous (DA) where basically everyone comes in a box labeled "Summer's Eve". But this isn't about anyone else (today, anyway) it's about YOU. This is your fictional life!
Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? You started as the double "D" or, in layman's terms, the "Drunken Douche", philandering about, not adding anything positive to society, collecting venereal diseases like they were pogs (hey, remember pogs?), having a terrible accent, and a haircut that's even worse. Enter Darla, sirerererer supreme, you drink from her lady lumps because you love boobs (more on that later) and cease being the DD and become the MD (Murdering Douche). Where do you start? Well, family seems as good a place as any. After all, they wanted more for you and cared that you were throwing your life away. Can't have that! So you eated them like the fangy, faux-irish, lolcat that you are.
I'm going to cut you some slack here, fella. You don't have a soul at this point so a lot of the murdering and raping and such... I won't hold you overwhelmingly accountable. Still, there are traits that continue to develop during this period in time, traits you still have to this day. What are they? I'm so glad you asked. Hark, whilst I mansplain it to you. You continue to shirk responsibility unless it serves your own interest, you alpha male all over the place doing anything and everything in your power to stay number one in the eyes of the women folk, and you make snap to judgments about everyone and everything in sight. But right now? No soul. It's ll good. Lots of vampires have their MD's, you just made it into an "art" (an MFAD?). Good for you!
Then what? Oh, right. Gypsies. Future reference? Don't eat those. In fact, don't do anything with gypsies. They are the tropiest bad news trope that ever did trope in Tropesylvania. Oh, well. Lesson learned a little late and now you've got the soul back, now with bonus damning curse. So now you are the AD ( you guessed it, Accursed Douche) and you're eating rats and making a mess of yourself. Oh, wait. That's not quite the full time gig we thought it was since, apparently, you also dabbled with trying to remain a homicidal maniac and even occasionally tried to be a hero but, wait, no, then you got bored and left people to die. Oh, Accursed Douche, you might just be the douchiest douche of all.
But seriously, sir. How about those years you spent in Sunnydale? First you're Angel, the stalker action figure with exposition tug string and kung fu grip. You're very pretty though and, since Buffy, like you, has a weakness for the eye candy, she's all over you like blonde flies on spiky-haired shit. You're basically a colossal liar by omission since you totally neglect to mention that, oh yeah, you're one of those mass murdering vampire types. Whoops! It's okay, dude. Buffy's a teenager so she's into the whole tragic love with an older man thing. I watched this stuff in high school too so I cannot deny your allure. You actually do alright for a little while, if I'm honest. Maybe it's just because you're consistently out douched by Xander every week. Hard to say.
Oh, you're back. I'm bored of you now, you melodramatic eunuch. Can't you go to a place that's else? You can? Oh, awesome. See ya later!
Some time later...
Oh, it's you again. Can we do the cliff note's of the next five years? Evil Lawyers, Powers that Be plan some stuff, Shanshu prophecy, Darla Part 2: Electric Bugaloo,Crazy Dru is crazy, Buffy's dead, Darla's pregnant, Connor's a douche (like father, like son), Cordy makes a great door prize, hey Angelus, see ya Angelus, hey Gina Torres, see ya Gina Torres, Coma Cordy, Fat Lawyer Angel, our ratings are low so let's bring on Spike, everybody dies, the end. I'm sure I'm missing stuff but who cares, really? What matters is that, after all that you went right back to the well.
Is it a coincidence that Angel's return coincides with Buffy becoming a comic book character and hence having bigger boobs? Just food for thought. No more curse this time. Any difference in Angel? Nah, not really. He's still making big decisions without consulting anybody first, he's still got to be the alpha male, and it's still all about Buffy. This time he has a super awesome prophecy that really works in his favor, though. That sure is lucky, Angel. Except Buffy isn't into prophecy. Bummer. Don't worry though, you can follow her around like a puppy dog just like the old days. Hooray!
Post Script: So here's the point of all this mean stuff. If you are wondering if Angel is redeemable, I have to say that, in my opinion, he's no more irredeemable than he ever has been. Dude's been a douche nozzle from day one. I could have gone on for paragraphs more about all the stupid, selfish shit he's done. If you view Angel through this narrow lens then, yeah, of course you're going to hate him and the developments between he and Buffy in Season 8. He's more complex than that though. All the characters are. But you can boil each of them down to their worst traits.