Okay, I can’t believe I am writing this post, but at the same time, I HAVE to. See, I’ve been a closet TVD fan pretty much from the beginning. I don’t remember the moment I decided to check it out (let alone have my PVR record each and every episode), but I remember watching Elena (Nina Dobrev) figure out that the cute boy in school (Paul Wesley) was a vampire, and while I did spend some time eye-rolling in the early days, I was still undeniably drawn to the goings-on in Mystic Falls.
I was just quiet about it, is all.
I think maybe part of the appeal is in the 90210-ness of it all. The teen angst and drama and love and…drama. Everyone in the cast is very pretty…and yet not in conventional ways, really. Most of them wouldn’t necessarily stop traffic in the way one would expect, but at the same time, each one of them is absolutely stunning to watch. And the characters are all very genuine. You like them, you hate them, you laugh and cry and dread with them. They’re actually rather realistic in how they deal with the things that happen. The reactions are believable, and it’s easy to understand each character’s motivation for their various actions. The characters are actually flawed, too – they make mistakes. And sometimes people die.
One of the elements I love about The Vampire Diaries is that there are very few responsible adults around. With all the things going on…all the danger, drama, fear, heroics, failure, high school, sexual relations, life and death decisions, etc. – almost all of it belongs to the kids. They seem to carry more burdens than we regular folks did at their age, and they keep secrets from adult/authority figures more as a means of protecting them than worrying about being grounded. And when those secrets start to come out anyway, lines get drawn, and we get to see just how much growing up even the adult characters have to do.
We watch a woman vampire killer struggle with the new knowledge that her young daughter (Candice Accola) has been turned into a vampire, as well. Which also means that she died. These aren’t the glittery emo vamps that have been tossed at us lately. They are cold, lacking in humanity, have an undeniable thirst for human blood, and get a kick out of toying with human beings. Watch a man be compelled by a vampire to drink his own wife’s blood and see how charming you think those romantic bloodsuckers are now.
We see a young man (Michael Trevino) learn that his family curse means that he will turn into a werewolf at each full moon. And unless he locks himself up, he will kill. Mindlessly, with no control nor memory of the event until he wakes up the next morning to see the destruction he caused. And it is not a happy, instant poof-i’m-a-doggie kind of shift, either. It takes a long time, and it’s incredibly painful. All he really remembers is the pain of everything breaking and twisting and changing inside him.
Everyone has decisions to make, and for the most part, they choose life, difficult as that may be. As much pain as they are in, and as much suffering as they have seen, they stand up for one another and choose life and humanity above all else. Sacrifices are made, lives are lost, hearts are broken, souls are redeemed. The stakes are high and there are no second chances.
And I can’t look away. I’m all pulled in; invested. I watch each episode at least twice. I laugh, I cry, I talk at the TV and urge those characters I care most about to do what I think is the right thing. I feel pride, I feel disappointment, I feel remorse, and jubilation. It was supposed to be fluff. It was supposed to be shrugged off. It was supposed to be a supernatural 90210 of soap operatic proportions for today’s youth.
Somehow, though, it’s become so much more – it means so much more. More than it was supposed to. I’m glad I signed up to see what the Salvatore brothers had in store (and not because of my neverending adoration of Ian Somerhalder), because I’m continuously surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Which is better than the other way around, really, even when there are pretty people involved.
So there you have it. Love it or leave it, The Vampire Diaries has definitely taken hold. The bad guys are not nice, the good guys are tragically flawed, and everyone is just trying to do their best. Which in the end makes them very human, even those who aren’t anymore. The show’s creators play within the rules of supernatural beings set out by those who wrote before them, and have believable “cheats” which bend certain rules here and there as needed. The characters work within the realm created for them, and everything moves at a pace that keeps things interesting for the viewer, without becoming too overwhelming.
I like it. I like The Vampire Diaries. Even though there isn’t much actual diary action going on most of the time. But even when there is, it’s still the main reason I look forward to staying home on Friday nights!
The Vampire Diaries can be seen on Much Music Fridays at 9pm