This Amy here. She was right all along. And so were all the other people who have been saying that The Vampire Diaries (wait, don’t leave yet! Hear me out!) is awesome. As it turns out? It is pretty awesome. I started watching it right after the CW signed a deal with Netflix — thanks, CW! — because I thought it would be a fun show to semi-watch, semi-ignore while cross-stitching a Christmas stocking for my little cousin. I am much more watching, much less ignoring now. Kinda worried about the progress of this Christmas stocking, but I will keep you posted.
Here is why you should watch the Vampire Diaries:
1. You think that it’s going to be Twilight, and at first it seems a lot like it’s going to be like Twilight, and you’re so sick of Twilight you want to punch The Vampire Diaries in the face for being so much like Twilight. But around episode seven or eight, the show takes a sudden turn into the realm of the awesome. A certain character dies, not a super important character, and what it’s sort of like is, you know how in vampire books/movies/TV shows there’s the moment where the Good Vampire scents blood and all of a sudden they whip off at top speed to Feed At Last? The show as of episode seven is like that, except instead of scenting blood, it’s scented how much more fun of a show it could be if it just got balls-out crazy and started wantonly killed people all the time; and instead of whipping off at top speed only until it can control itself and atone as befits a Good Vampire, it whips off at top speed and goes on a top-speed killing spree. FOREVER.
2. It’s actually pretty tightly plotted, even in the early (read: lame) days. Netflix got confused and made me rewatch an early episode, and although I hold to my opinion that the early episodes are less good, rewatching one of them made me realize that the writers were laying groundwork for the long story arcs all along. The surprises are surprising, but you realize once you think about it that the writers pointed up what was going to happen ages ago. I love knowing that the writers aren’t just pulling everything out of their ass week to week (ahem GLEE).
3. The heroine doesn’t dick around being a fragile flower in need of rescue. Sometimes she makes dumb choices, but mostly she’s, you know, sensible like a regular person. When the antihero brushes all up against her all the time in an early episode and then is like, Sorry, I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, she’s like, You clearly ARE, and then slaps him in the face. When the hero’s like, Oh I have to leave you for your own good!, she’s like, Screw that, you don’t make my decisions for me, you’re leaving for YOU if you’re leaving at all. Sometimes she gets to go rescue people too (even though she only very rarely has Cunning Master Plans)! She’s not ass-kick-y like Buffy or adorable like Willow, but only quite rarely do I find myself saying, “Oh ELENA. For heaven’s SAKE. Don’t go IN THERE.” (So far. I’ve only watched the first season and the beginning of the second. Maybe she gets dumber later but right now she is fine. I mean, apart from that she is interested in obviously the far less interesting Salvatore brother.)
4. If you like abs, your luck is in. A lot.
5. A lot of things happen. It’s not a slow-burn show. I like a slow burn when it’s done really well, but God knows I will almost always love a fast-moving plot. (I am a plot girl.) Any given episode of The Vampire Diaries includes many, many events. They’ll have the sort of bog-standard television show episode premises, with the Big Storm Coming to Town, or the Debutante Ball, or the Raffling Off Men, but they’re not using those episodes as an excuse to let the characters marinate. They are advancing the plot at the aforementioned top speed. Many things happen in every episode. While some of the characters are at the debutante ball, other characters are out turning evil or trying to become vampires. You seriously never know whether any given character will a) turn out to be evil when you thought they were good; b) turn out to be good when you thought they were evil; c) have their neck snapped; or d) carry on their happy mundie life as if they live in a town not peopled by vampires with grudges.
6. It is massively fun to watch with a friend and a glass of wine. While I have not been able to convince any of my New York friends to watch it with me in real life, my friend Misanthrope and I have been watching it together via Skype. Shrieking at plot reveals is more fun with other people. It is known.
7. I don’t want to know the end. I know right, when do I ever not want to know the end? This is kind of related to number 5: A lot of things happen on this show. I never need to find out the end in order to lend momentum to the rest of what’s happening. I discovered many spoilers on the interwebz when I first started watching this show, but I’ve steered clear of them since. Social Sister and I are planning to watch the first season together when I am home at Thanksgiving, and I seriously wish that I could remove my memories of the show from my brain so that I could watch it for the first time again. For once, it actually is more fun that way.
8. The antihero stays pretty anti. Yay! I like an antihero, but if they stop being ruthless, they’re not an antihero anymore, Spike. They’re just a regular hero then. The antihero of The Vampire Diaries had become fairly nice by the end of the first season, and I was a bit worried that he was going to be too fluffy to be an antihero, and then, damn, in the second season premiere he does something incredibly evil. It was not evil like Series Seven Spike being controlled by malign forces (ugh, Series Seven Spike, ugh). It was legit serious evil (albeit perpetrated against a character I can’t stand), and just when I thought the show was preparing to walk it back, it made the choice not to walk it back. Awesome. Keep on not valuing human life, Bad Salvatore Brother!
9. The show has fun with itself. This is a pretty key thing about a trashy show. If it’s a trashy show that takes itself super seriously, it’s not as much fun to watch. If the writers are having fun, and the actors are having fun, then fun is much likelier to be had by me too. These writers are having fun. They know you think that guy’s a vampire, and they like screwing around with you a little bit before they’ll confirm or deny. They know you think the girl’s about to be rescued in the nick of time, so instead of that the vampire kills her. Ah, it’s the best.
10. The heroine has an evil twin, SHE HAS AN EVIL TWIN. Well, not exactly. But close. Y’all, I don’t know if you know this about me, but evil twins are one of my favorite things in the world. My mother watched a lot of soap operas when pregnant with me, and I think I absorbed a taste for that sort of thing along with all the, whatever, amniotic nutrients and whatnot. Anyway, the heroine in The Vampire Diaries has an evil double, and if I’m honest, the knowledge that she had an evil double who (SPOILERS) would eventually show up and make people’s lives terrible is the reason I stuck around until episode seven to see this show become (as stated in Reason 1) awesome. EVIL TWIN. EVIL TWIN. EVIL TWIN.
10a. (Spoilers, a little bit, but spoilers I would be okay with reading). The show comments on the fact that the heroine’s evil twin (actually her ancestor) looks exactly like her. We are all used to that TV show trope whereby the actors play their present-day characters and the flashback ancestors of their present-day characters, and we go with it because we’re used to it. The Vampire Diaries heroine is like, “So she and I are identical. We’re related, whatever, but why are we EXACTLY INDISTINGUISHABLY IDENTICAL?” I’m fine with the trope, but it’s fun to see tropes subverted, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen this particular one subverted. And brains like new stuff. So, yay.
The Vampire Diaries. It’s on Netflix. Hit that up and then go tell Amy how right she was.