Okay, I admit it. The Vampire Diaries is the best new show this fall. (That I’ve watched. I need to get in touch with Modern Family and Cougar Town, though.)
How do I love The Vampire Diaries? Let me start by saying I did not want to love it. I did not need to watch another show about vampires, feeling it was well-covered territory with Buffy, Angel, True Blood, and Moonlight (plus, yuck). Like zombies, I was sure the vampire Zeitgeist had peaked and jumped the shark, jumped the pufferfish, jumped the minnow, even jumped the plankton.
I was ready to move past vampires. I was ready to move past vampires who go to high school, vampires who have a soul/conscience, vampires who are barely-tamed animals with no soul, vampires who long to be human, and vampires who both love and eat humans. I was over glamours, I was over longing looks through the shadowy afternoon, I was over men who look like they need to eat a cheeseburger instead of a cheerleader.
Plus, there’s a witch! It’s like, hello, did you crib right from Buffy or what??
And then I watched The Vampire Diaries. And I threw all my rules out the window. Isn’t this what love is supposed to do to us? Make us shame ourselves for constructing false expectations and futile boundaries?
Here is my systematic list of why I love this show:
1. It’s a killer. A whole bunch of people have died on the show, unlike a lot of vampire predecessors. Among them have been some pretty important main characters, as well as your typical out-for-a-drive-on-the-wrong-road crowd. And then people have become vampires, and they get killed right away, and cool characters get killed right away, and basically there’s a lot of “animal attacks” in the town and people getting bloody and dying. That’s hot. It means anything can happen on this show.
2. Only the men take their clothes off. This is probably courtesy of Kevin Williamson, who helped create this show, but there’s a lot of PG-13 going on here, and it’s all boys all the time. Also, most of them are really hot. I say that because it seems like no matter what flavor of boy you prefer, there’s a slice of beefcake for you on this show. My favorite is Mike, but Beau prefers that angular looking vampire Sebastian.
3. It’s moody. The lighting on this show is amazing. Although it takes place in Virginia, it’s the darkest version of Virginia you’ve ever seen. The colors are both richly saturated (the greens and brows of the natural environment) and starkly washed out (buildings, faces, interiors). There are also intense, intense shadows on the show, which seems almost as if it’s light by diegetic lighting alone (that would be like using only light from the lamps in a living room shot and not supplementing with traditional film lights off-camera). The characters end up living in this world where their faces and bodies are always partially cloaked in shadows.
Look at how dark & rich & shadowy that shot is!! Yum.
4. It rocks. The soundtrack uses hot music that I love. It’s like they plugged into my iPod and either took bands I’ve liked for a while, or anticipated my tastes as well as or better than Gossip Girl has.
5. It’s actually kind of scary and suspenseful. The writers do a really good job of keeping the surprises real and the plot moving forward into new directions. Unlike Buffy, which always felt as if it were snowballing toward an inevitable, inescapable conclusion, I have no idea what’s going to happen on this show, and I really appreciate that.
6. It’s only a little Dawsony. While the characters have slightly precocious dialogue, it’s not as self-referential as Williamson’s other show. The characters, instead, seem pretty “now,” not too wise beyond their years, but wise enough to speak more eloquently than your average walking gland.
You can catch up with The Vampire Diaries next week on your local CW station when they run a week-long marathon of the season so far. Enjoy!