Friday, March 5, 2010

Guilty pleasures or secret shame? (part 2)

Vampires are everywhere at the moment. They are in with Gen X, Gen Y, what ever the current generation is called and probably the odd baby boomer, mainly thanks to Edward Cullen and the Twilight Saga.

My vampire love is not new. It was initiated in the early 90s when I first saw The Lost Boys – Keifer, Jason and both the Corey’s would make any legendary killers alluring. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the usual blood letting cultural offerings – Buffy, Blade, Underworld, even the very odd Coppola interpretation of Bram Stokers Dracula – but not until Twilight did Vampires hold such sex appeal. The books and the movies made me feel like a lovesick teenager again – which was both good and a little scary! And now vampires are every where. The whole young adult section in any book store is filled with Twilight clones and there are now several offerings to view on the TV and at the movies.

Firstly, a note about True Blood, a fantastic, critically acclaimed and very clever offering from HBO (who else?). In the world of True Blood Vampires have come ‘out of the coffin’, drink synthetic blood and ‘live’ openly. The show focuses on telepathic waitress Sooki Stackhouse (Oscar winner Anna Paquin)and her love for civil war era vampire, Bill Compton (English actor Stephen Moyer), set in the steamy Louisiana town on Bon Temps, full of Southern charm and the ghosts of segregation that haunt the vampire community’s attempt to get equal rights. The characters have depth and the plots and sub plots are engaging and compulsive. I have to stop myself from watching too many episodes too soon so that I would have something to look forward to.

But I digress….

The Vampire Diaries, like True Blood and Twilight, is based on a series of books written in the early 1990s by LJ Smith. Set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, the series’ focus is the relationship between the orphaned human, Elena (Nina Dobrev) and 150 year old ‘good’ vampire Stefan (Paul Wesley) who has , much like the protagonists in Twlight, to abstain from human blood. Add in Stefan’s devious (but possibly misunderstood) brother Damon (Ian Sommerhalder), novice witch Bonnie and some pitchfork wielding towns people and you have a winning mixture of forbidden love, secrets, intrigue and the type of bad boys that all girls love.

On one level it is fabulous. I downloaded one episode to see what it was like and couldn’t stop myself downloading the rest! I loved brooding and tortured Stefan, the ever so slightly camp but very hot Damon, all the bitchy girls and even Elena, who was not as pathetic as she could have been. The mid season break left me hanging for more and dying to know what was going to happen, checking iTunes daily for new episodes.

However, on another level it is Dawson Creek with vampires, all teenage angst, emotive soundtrack and very little witty repartee. I like to think I normally look for something with more depth, intelligent writing and certainly no dear diary voiceovers (yes its true, teens and even the vampires diarise – it’s a big thing in Mystic Falls!). Watching it makes me feel even more shamed than reading Twilight, but at least with Twilight I have strength in numbers and it really is a cultural phenomena. I’m not sure I can claim the same justification.

Interestingly, I was spot on with my Dawsons Creek reference as its creator Kevin Williamson is one of Vampire Diaries’ producers.

Well what do you think? Can my Gilmour Girls and Vampire Diaries diversions be considered just that, diversions from an otherwise quality viewing life?? Maybe that question will be answered in time.

But for now, I have to get back to some viewing so I have something to write about.

Happy viewing.


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