our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a


vampire diaries


ok so i watched this series over the past few weeks. it is on the CW, the lowest rated network on basic cable, and it is about 2 vampire brothers and a totally normal high school girl lolz who is caught between their sexehness. i was curious because it looked really bad, i knew it was set in virginia (in a fictional town between lynchburg and charlottesville off 29!) and i liked one of the actors (he's FIT). while this show definitely has its shortcomings- the teen melodrama of it all, the 'i love you always, forever, ill do anything for you!' -ness of it, the terrible music choices....  it is actually fairly impressive in ways for a network hour drama (which always has major limitations, especially in terms of level of taste and freedom.) and i would feel stupid having watched all of it if i didn't think more in depth about the better ideas within. at the very least, that can be a redeeming part of losing hours to television, right?

i think what is good about it is the ambiguity and abandonment of 'good' vs 'evil'. i think vampires remind us of our failure to recognize that we all have principles, values, and traits that directly contradict each other. no one's 'personality' or 'nature' is some defined thing, which flows evenly- everyone is many different things at once. and this show definitely hits on that over and over again. it manages to bring back what i actually like about vampires and what has been sorely forgotten in this 2000s shit resurgence of vampire stories- that they are of history, anything can be done with them. they can appear in any time period, they can have great backstories, go amazing places. intriguing parts of the mythology like mind control aren't left out for once. 

they aren't vampires that just drink animal blood or some boring shit. killing never really becomes an'acceptable' part of the narrative, it isn't like anne rice where killing is just part of their way of life, but it touches on that. the process of becoming a vampire isn't glossed over, they really make a point of the person physically having to die as part of the process. they also sort of get a choice- after they die and reawaken, they can choose not to become a vampire and just die normally.

they start out with the two vampire brothers and obviously one is 'good' and one is 'evil,' but of course it is revealed the 'good' brother is the one with the bloodier past, who goes off the rails and kills people more
often, and the 'evil' brother is the one who is able to control himself because he takes ownership of the darker forces within. most of the ideas at play are not usually executed fantastically, plenty of it is downright stupid, as happens with network tv. but i enjoyed watching, it was often interesting and funny. i like the aesthetic of the show, it's a bit dark and southern gothic-y. the show is not hung up about sex, and treats like it is just a part of people- which for a teenage drama is pretty remarkable. and they at least managed to create an incredibly alluring and humorous male lead who kills people. the female characters are all quite good too, 

none of them are like the twilight chick at all. the female lead is very compassionate and thoughtful, she doesn't let other people make decisions for her, she cares deeply about her family, and she is strong. in this kind of story my first thought is usually, 'if this dude is like 150 years old, why would he EVER be interested in an 18 year old high school girl?!' so i was pleased that there actually IS a reason these vampires are interested in the girl- she is a doppleganger of the vampire who turned them both. cheesy stuff, but nice to have an explanation there. i think overall, considering most of the shit that is available as a weekly serial for teenagers, this is sort of progressive? it would be nice if the writing were better, if some of the ideas were better, if it were executed better.... but i've never seen one of these types of shows, with so many limitations boundaries, that so strongly advocates alternative psychological ideas and rejects passivity of women


deb: And it seems to fit Housman's practical test.