Not Another Vampire Story: The Vampire Diaries

“When you Google ‘vampire’ you get a world of fiction. What’s the reality? I know you eat garlic.”
“Yes.”
“And somehow sunlight’s not an issue?”
“We have rings that protect us.”
“Crucifixes?”
“Decorative.”
“Holy water?”
“Drinkable.”
“Mirrors?”
“Myth.”

Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) is seventeen years old and lives with her Aunt Jenna and younger brother, Jeremy, in a small town, appropriately named Mystic Falls, after her parents’ deaths in a car accident. And the new guy at school seems very interested in her. To be fair, Elena’s very interested in him. Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) is smart and good-looking, and he has remarkable emotional perception for a seventeen-year-old.

But it’s not long before Elena realises that something about Stefan doesn’t quite add up. Anyone want to take a guess? What if I tell you we’re talking about a show called The Vampire Diaries? Right – Stefan is a vampire. Explains the emotional perception – he’s had 145 years to work on it.

“Wait!” I hear you cry. “Human girl falls in love with a vampire – we’ve seen this before!” And, in part, you’re right. Vampire Diaries is based on a book trilogy of the same name, written by LJ Smith in 1991, but we’re not here for the books; we’re here for the show.

The Vampire Diaries title card

The thing I find most interesting about Vampire Diaries is that I can’t pinpoint a villain. I thought I could…

Within the first episode, we meet Stefan’s brother, Damon (played by Ian Somerhalder). By the time the viewers lay eyes on him, he has murdered two people and severely wounded another. Through the brothers’ interaction, we learn that Stefan doesn’t drink human blood anymore, which makes him weaker than Damon.

We also learn that Elena is a ‘dead ringer for Katherine’, which weaves in another layer to a bitter feud that has lasted since the brothers turned in 1864: Katherine Pierce was the vampire that turned Damon and Stefan, as well as the girl they were both in love with.

And now, with Elena in the picture, it seems that history is set on repeating itself, leading to the almost infamous ship-wars between ‘Stelena’ fans and ‘Delena’ fans.

Now, I’ll come back to Katherine and Elena in a second, but first, I was talking about villains, wasn’t I? There is no villain in this show that you aren’t given a reason for their actions. You may not agree with their actions, but there’s always a voice in the back of your mind saying “Yeah, but …” Damon, for example, seems to personify evil. And, at the beginning of the series, I was fully prepared to hate him.

And then you realise why he is how he is. You see a man who loved Katherine so deeply that when she died he wanted to die with her, rather than transition. You see a man who spent 145 years desperately trying to find a way to bring her back. You see a man who dealt with that pain for so long that he switched off and stopped caring, because it hurt less. And I can hate his actions, but I can’t hate him.

I can’t hate Katherine, either. Yes, I know. I said she died. Rule #1 of Vampire Diaries: If someone dies, always double check. Even if you’re certain, expect the impossible. Actually, that’s Rule #2. Rule #1 is never ever get involved in the ship wars. I know that’s a given anyway, but this fandom seems more vicious than most.

But, no, Katherine’s not dead, and she’s the other reason I love this show. Although, technically, I suppose the reason is actually Nina Dobrev, who plays both Elena and Katherine, and somehow allows the viewers to differentiate. Even though they look identical (for obvious reasons), their eyes, their voice, the way they hold themselves is completely different.

I could go on for pages and pages about this show, really I could. I could talk about Elena’s best friends and her brother, who are as much the main story as the central trio. I could talk about how, for a town that hates the supernatural, they’re running out of humans pretty quickly. I could talk about how utterly shippable every single pairing is (I don’t have a ship for this show, I have an armada). I could talk about the newest villains on the scene – The Originals – who are getting their own spin-off. I could talk about the Stelena/Delena ship-wars, but that, children, is the ugly side of fandom and is in fact frowned upon in most societies. So I’ll sign off with a final message.

If you’re reading this thinking, “Ugh, Twilight, modern vampires, not interested” – and I mean nothing against Twilight, I just know that’s what I was thinking – at least try watching an episode. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’d give this show 4.5 out of 5 because I don’t think I should be as okay with murder as it makes me …

Roxanne Williams (Team Stelena)

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