If you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you know that I’m a bit of a vampire addict. If it had fangs and was on television within the last ten years, I have no doubt seen and loved it (well, apart from True Blood, which I refuse to watch since it’s basically cable porn that substitutes the f-word for decent dialogue… and yes, I did see one episode and had to scrub my mind out afterward).
The latest is The Vampire Diaries and apart from the sexed-up photo campaign (which admittedly, my dark side loved…) and constant, irritating comparisons to the bane of my existence (Twilight), I really liked the pilot episode. I haven’t read the books and hear there are a lot of changes (honestly, what book-to-television series doesn’t have major changes?) but the series is going to make me want to, and that’s all that is important as far as the network and author are concerned. Sell more books, make the publisher happy!
True, none of this is anything new — the emo vampire who doesn’t drink human blood and falls in love with a human has been done many times before, as has the “evil” blood drinking vampire that tries to sway him into temptation. But who cares? Vampire fans love vampires regardless of recycled plots, and at least this time around the writing is decent, the atmosphere is moody, the heroine is likable, and there is sort of a dark tone that really suits the genre well.
In the first episode, we meet Elena. Recently, she lost her parents in a car accident and she and her loser-and-half-hooked-on-drugs brother are trying to recover from it. Elena is coping; little brother isn’t, apart from falling in love with one of the local girls he shares pills with. Returning to school, Elena literally runs into Stefan, the tall dark and handsome type with immortal tendencies and a serious aversion to blood. Weird killings have been transpiring all around town. Any smart audience knows who is responsible — Stefan’s big brother, Damon, who has “promised” to make his life miserable for all eternity.
From there we know what will happen — Stefan loves Elena, Elena is attracted to Stefan, and just for kicks, Damon comes back to hit on Elena and torment his brother. Meanwhile, Damon’s last dinner remembers it was a vampire who did it. Been there, done that — don’t mind doing it again. And of course, Stefan doesn’t drink human blood. If I remember right, his brother made some crack about pigeons. (What is it with these animal-slaying vampires? Shouldn’t PETA be on their case? Tsk, tsk!)
Vampires in search of redemption is a recurring theme in modern literature. Not so much in the original. Back then, vampires were a lot like Damon (or for that matter, Josef in Moonlight): “I am what I am. I enjoy being what I am. If you don’t like it, watch your back.” In fact, I knew a girl once who didn’t like the “emo vampires” because she thought they were pansies for not manning up and acting like vampires. (She loved Spike in Buffy, Angel not so much.) But while I enjoy a gleeful vampire cackling about “happy meals with legs” as much as the next girl, I also like quests for redemption and salvation, which is basically what Armand, Louis, Mick, Angel, and Stefan are searching for: salvation. Forgiveness for what they are. A chance to change things and be human again.
It says a lot that this is such an important and popular message in modern culture — that there is such a thing as good and evil, as appropriate and inappropriate behavior, that there is a deep inborn need in humankind to be forgiven for their sins. Stefan cannot help what he is. Neither can Mick, or Angel. But all of them are seeking love as a solution to their sadness. Stefan has Elena, Mick has Beth, and Angel for awhile had Buffy (and then my heart got broken). Love. Because love is the most important thing, right? It sounds cheesy and maybe it is, but it is a theme that appears again and again and resonates with us, because deep down we know it is true. Love.
For God so loved…
Love can change everything.