Too right you are, Buffy, especially when the love in question is for two dead guys. Today, as part of the brilliantly-themed Vampire Blog-a-thon, sponsored by Nathaniel of The Film Experience, I will tackle the age-old question that has tormented academics and fangirls alike: Angel or Spike? (Or, if you prefer, Tall, Dark, and Forehead or Captain Peroxide?)
I'd just like to see [Angel] grow. Honestly, everything he's done so far I've enjoyed, so there's not really one thing. Maybe, like, golfing or something." --David Boreanaz
There's nothing I love better than one of these completely insane one-liners. Unfortch, Angel the character lacked much of Boreanaz's off-the-wall charisma. In my mind, Angel didn't grow much on Buffy. He had two wildly different states of being, yes: guilt-plagued, brooding good guy and nasty, rage-filled bad guy. The most he could do was flip-flop between those two and occasionally make Buffy cry. Perhaps the problem is that Angel was too much a part of Buffy's central metaphor that became the show's framework in the first few seasons. That is, High School Is Hell. Sometimes you sleep with a guy and he becomes a totally different peson. We all knew Buffy and Angel's relationship was doomed from day one, because so much was set in stone. If Buffy sleeps with Angel, giving him one moment of true contentment, he will revert to the evil Angelus. And in the Buffyverse, as in our world, there's not much hope for a partnership with those kind of sexual high stakes. Once Angel goes from a mopey repenter to Angelus, we've seen everything he can do. (That is, until his spin-off.)
"The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got – the dog racing, Manchester United, and you’ve got people: billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs." --Spike
Spike, however, remained an unpredictable presence for much of the series. Unlike Angel, he didn't have a split personality - no soulless doppelganger. Soulless Spike was not very different from Soul-Having Spike, so there were much fewer rules dictating his behavior. We saw from the beginning that he was a different sort of vampire, cut from a more romantic, Anne Rice-ish mold. The Judge told Spike and his highly irritating girlfriend, Drusilla, that they had too much humanity in them. "Yeah, what of it?" Spike said. Spike never seemed evil so much as a juvenile delinquent in arrested development. He took a manic glee in creating havoc for havoc's sake and had some of the best one-liners ever uttered on television. Unlike Angelus, who was a by-the-book villain, Spike was much more self-aware; he turned the bad guy cliches on their head. He also was incredibly sensitive, even without a soul: see season five's "Fool For Love" to see how quickly Buffy breaks the guy who has "always been bad."
"I love syphilis more than you." --Spike
Sigh. It's no surprise that Buffy should fall for either of these cradle-robbing creatures of the night, despite Angel's massive forehead or the fact that Spike's hair makes his head look like a Q-tip. But Angel is ultimately a eunuch, or the forbidden fruit if you prefer something less emasculating. Angel will always be Buffy's first love, but their relationship is a dead end.
In season four, Spike is rendered impotent by a microchip the Initiative places in his brain; in one episode, in which Buffy and Faith switch bodies, Faith-as-Buffy humiliates him sexually with some vivid dialogue. (I seem to remember "make you pop like champagne" being said at some point.) In season 5, Spike has an epiphany after having an erotic dream about Buffy. Turns out, all that fighting they've done is kind of like third base for Spike. And so begins some of the most perverse sex ever aired on network television. We all thank you, Spike.
Her relationship with Angel forces Buffy to become independent. She discovers when she must kill Angel, that at the end of the day she has only herself to rely on. Spike, on the other hand, forces Buffy into more existential dilemmas about herself, the nature of her job, her baser wants and instincts. And I don't know about you all, but exploring those baser wants and instincts were far more fun than watching Buffy swoon in Angel's arms.