I know, I know, you swore you would never go near a vampire romance after the dark ages of Twilight, but here are five reasons why the supernatural teen drama The Vampire Diaries (TVD) is worth watching – even if you aren’t a fan of Stephanie Meyers fantasy romance saga…
The Vampire Diaries (2009): Created by Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream) and Julie Plec; 7 seasons à 22 episodes à 42mins. and a final season containing 16 episodes; starring Nina Dobrev (Let’s be Cops), Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder (LOST), Candice Accola, Kat Graham, Steve R. McQueen, Zach Roerig, Michael Trevino, Matthew Davis (Blue Crush), Michael Malarkey, Joseph Morgan (The Originals), Chris Wood (Supergirl).
For fans of: Impossible romances, brotherhood and vampire/ werewolf mythology, Moonlight, Teen Wolf, gore, the supernatural, witchcraft, the doppelgänger motif, character development, ridiculous plot twists, the pain of losing a beloved character.
Granted, the synopsis is a little off-putting: two feuding 150 year old vampire brothers fall in love with the same recently orphaned high school student who happens to look exactly like their former vampire lover Katherine. However, the show is about so much more than that. Here’s a list of everything TVD‘s got to offer:
1. Carismatic Villains
The show might as well be called “Sympathy for the Devil” as every new “big bad” will become your favourite character before you even know it. From Katherine, Stefan and Damon’s cunning and selfish Ex, to original vampire Klaus Mikaelson and his siblings in Season 3 and Kai Parker, a sociopathic witch who wants to rule the world in Season 6.
2. Complex Relationships
2.1. The Salvatores
If you’re hung up on which brother should end up dating Elena, you are missing the point of the entire show. While both brothers seem like the right fit for Elena at different points in her tumultuous young life, the real love story at the heart of the show is that between the initially estranged and oftentimes differing brothers. Watch and weep as they progress from attempting to kill each other, to teaming up against a common enemy, to risking everything for each other time and again throughout the show.
2.2. The Doppelgängers
The dynamic between Katherine and Elena is one of the most layered and entertaining of the entire show. True to the literary motif of the Doppelgänger, most prominently found in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Katherine and Elena are perfect foils, ying and yang, two sides of the same coin. It may not always be clear – for instance when Katherine delivers a sassy and pointed analysis of Elena’s character and mannerisms – at the end of the day, both women undeniably have a lot of admiration, at times bordering on respect, for each other.
3. Nina Dobrev’s next level acting
During her six years on the show, Nina Dobrev has delivered a myriad of extraordinary performances both as Elena and Katherine, two characters that are nothing alike yet look exactly the same. It takes another level of talent to make each of the two so distinct that you can tell when one of them is impersonating the other. Furthermore, Nina has nailed every single one of Elena’s breakdowns, usually sparked by the death of yet another loved one. From uncontrollable wailing on her living room floor, to angrily trashing a family crypt, to genuine shock and horror, watching Nina Dobrev’s facial expressions will send you on an emotional roller coaster of your own.
4. Amazing Tunes
The Vampire Diaries is one of those rare shows that knows about the rewards of investing in a great music department. Among the artists featured in the shows’s eight season run are Birdy, Florence + the Machine, Snow Patrol, and Ed Sheeran as well as a heap of lesser known Indie artists that I never would have discovered if it weren’t for this show. Their songs are usually employed to highlight the emotions of the characters in a given scene, oftentimes both melodically and lyrically.
5. Epic Romance
Few shows have sparked more intense “ship wars” i.e. extremely heated discussions about which character should be dating whom than The Vampire Diaries. Whether Elena should end up with Stefan or Damon is – without a doubt – the most debated question amongst fans.
To binge or not to binge? Too much of anything can make you sick, so don’t binge. Due to the show’s generic formula, it’s going to be harder to enjoy it once you realise that the Grimoire, the Moonstone, the Cure, the Ascendant and the Resurrection Stone all serve the same purpose and drive the same deadbeat storyline.
But full disclosure: TVD struggles to come into its own within the first 10 episodes. However, you will be rewarded with an amazing viewing experience in the second half of the first season, followed by an outstanding second season and compelling character and relationship developments in season 3, 4 and 5 if you stick with it.