Television Review: The Vampire Diaries
Though this show has been on for several years, I didn’t start watching it until two weeks ago and now I’m hooked. Netflix has three seasons up and running and I’m trying to get through all three so I can follow season four. Last night I was talking to a friend about my new obsession and he asked me if it is a good show, and all I can really say is that it is addictive. Addictive in the way that I spent an entire Sunday watching 15 episodes, addictive in the way that I immediately turn on Netflix when I get home, sit in front of the television staring at it like a five year old, addictive like all my other nerdy obsessions are addictive, time consuming, fascinating, and giving me a sense of belonging, even if it is just a make believe world with vampires and doppelgangers.
Elena lives in Mystic Falls, Virginia (on the map it is only a couple of hours from where I grew up in Virginia, so that makes me happy even if the town isn’t real) with her brother Jeremy and her aunt Jenna. Elena and Jeremy’s parents died in a car crash in the spring, even though Elena was in the accident with them, she mysteriously made it out of the car and her parents didn’t. Beyond loosing both her parents in a terrible tragedy, Elena suffers from survivors guilt and going back to school is the last thing she wants to do. However, she is determined to be normal again, to enjoy life again, to feel something different. Fortunately for Elena, she meets Stefan who brings a spark back into her life. A spark the lights a fuse and explodes into danger. Stefan is a 145 year old vampire who came back to Mystic Falls when he discovered that Elena lived there. Elena is a doppelganger for Stefan’s vampiric ex-girlfriend Katherine.
Not only is Stefan haunted by his past, including a tragic fiery end to Katherine, but he is haunted by his moody slightly sadistic vampire brother, Damon. Take the emotional down trodden side of Spike and combine it with the brooding ever realistic side of Angel, and you have Damon. Damon lives his immortal eternal life just to torment his brother, mostly by falling in love with Stefan’s girlfriends and never really doing the right thing even when he tries. As vampires the boys feel to the extreme, everything they were is heightened and after 145 years their brotherly issues have wedged a solid wall between the two of them and some basic cattiness ensues. Occasionally they will work together if they both have the same goals, but that is rare indeed.
Added to her new found understanding of the world holding vampires that can walk in the sun, Elena also has a best friend who is a witch, a brother who is becoming a drug addict, and an aunt who doesn’t really know how to parent teenagers. A whole whirlwind of romance, blood, danger, love, heroism, selfishness, and drama take place across the season and in spite of some short comings Elena manages to handle everything with grace and charm and spirit. No wonder the Salvatore brothers are in love with her, I’m half in love with her myself.
I like that the vampire myth is fairly basic, they have fangs, they drink blood, they move super fast, and are super strong. The reason they can daywalk is explained well and as the mythology of the show progresses in the second season there is even a reason as to why vampires couldn’t go out in the sun in the first place. The world building in the show is excellent, and it makes me want to go and read the books, because I bet it is even better in the books. Bonnie is a witch of the Salem order, though a novice she is strong and learns some things from her grams and from a grimore of an ancestor. I like how her powers develop slowly and she uses them like a novice. I have one friend who doesn’t like the casual way that magic is used in the show, but I think the casual use of magic is related to Bonnie’s character and the way she views magic more than an irreverence for the use of magic. Bonnie doesn’t have a lot to go on with the use of magic, and being a teenager she muddles things, she doesn’t have a Tara telling her to slow down and use magic wisely. I also totally saw the werewolf thing coming, because I was looking for it, and since I was looking for it the foreshadowing the show did was rather obvious.
Besides the supernatural bent I like this show because the writing is well done, it isn’t over acted, and there is a real connection to humanity through Elena that Buffy lost as the season’s progressed. (Gah! Don’t get me started on Buffy’s attitude the last season!) Nina Dobrev is amazing, her characterization of Elena versus Katherine is to be lauded. No wonder the show has won so many awards. The thought out overarching story line, well developed mythology, and attention to continuity in this show is a rare trifecta and I’m so happy I decided to give the show a chance. It’s true that this is the pretty people show, but it is Hollywood and I wouldn’t expect anything less. One thing I do enjoy is that the men and women get equal amounts of clothing taken off and in equal quantities. If I’m gonna see a bunch of lovely young breasts encased in really expensive bras I wanna see some shirts come off revealing pecks and abs as well.
And now that I’ve spent the last few minutes thinking about and talking about the show all I want to do is go home and watch it!