It’s quite often that you’ll hear someone, whether in real life or on TV, make a passing mention about how something from “their day” was greatly superior. It’s the same sentiment found within the sort of phrase that goes, “In my day, we had to walk to school five miles in the snow!” Various incarnations of this phrase will sometimes include how they used to walk those five miles to school in the snow while being completely barefoot and carrying a python around their neck. (The tendency to exaggerate isn’t a generational thing, it’s a human one.)
What does this have to do with vampires? There have been so many vampire-based TV shows in the past, but vampires have never been quite so popular. Will you ever love The Vampire Diaries as much as you loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Is it the quality of a show that matters most, or is it the age (or order) in which you view it? (I suspect our generational loyalties are stronger than anything else.)
Forever Knight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Vampire Diaries / Photos: CBS/The WB/The CW
Having been educated at the school of Whedon (Joss Whedon) with his shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the series, I figured that I’d not only experienced two of the best TV series I’d ever witness, but that I’d never latch into any other vampire show again. The thing is, the vampires aren’t what gave either of those shows true appeal for me. I’m not anyone with a vampire fascination. In fact, it seemed that back in the 90’s, people were embarrassed that the show they loved had the phrase “Vampire Slayer” in the title. And let’s not even get started on Buffy’s name.
Vampires weren’t hip! I distinctly remember saying to my college roommate something along the certain-but-embarrassed lines of, “I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer – er, it’s actually really good!” She sniffed the air with pity and wrote me off as too adventurous and liberal for her Precious Moments mind. As you can tell, the world has changed its mass opinion… I’d bet you my last can of Diet Coke that my former roomie has now read every Twilight saga book. Twice.
And why is that? Because now, vampires are everywhere. Maybe they’ve always been around (Anne Rice hasn’t written about much else, has she?), but they’ve steadily surfaced into the mainstream with movie and TV series like Twilight, Moonlight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. With the exception of Twilight, I’m a fan of all of them.
Let’s face it, vampires are now trendy. And if they were real, I’m sure they’d be annoyed by that fact.
Let’s go full circle to see where I was trying to to go with that first paragraph (and I hope to God I had a point.) We tend to idolize things from our youth, and nothing from a new generation can compare. I’ve been holding a little too tightly to my former TV loves (see: the entire lineup on The WB) that I may have not made enough room to appreciate new TV series. And if you think this sounds nuts, there was an entire storyline about this in Will & Grace once. (Yes, I know that’s also a long-gone show I need to let go of too, but bear with me.)
In one of the episodes Karen (Megan Mullally) is sad that so many of her favorite shows have ended (this is when Friends went off the air). Someone tells her, “It’s time to let new fictional characters in our lives.” When I saw this episode, I laughed and felt it had no relevance to me. I was young, I was incurably adaptable! I was still learning to love new shows, and find new genres to adore. Or so I thought.
In the past five or so years, I’ve had a hard time letting newer shows into my vault of favorite TV shows. I realized this when I started getting excited about Covert Affairs in a way I hadn’t let myself feel (or maybe just couldn’t feel) about a new TV series in a long time.
I’d say the issue I’ve had is partly about not connecting strongly to any other project, and partly refusing to really invest with any new show. And sure, it takes time to let a show become a “favorite.” But take it from me – you can’t hang onto the past and expect to enjoy new things while you’re still angry that Willow, Xander, and Oz wouldn’t help Buffy with her Homecoming Queen revival campaign (BTVS season 3, “Homecoming”).
What I’ve discovered is that very often when people say, “Things were better in my day,” all they mean is that things were better for them in those days. It’s easy to romanticize the old cartoons you watched as a child, just as much as those primetime soaps that captured you as a teen. But go back sometime and take a long hard look to see if they were really better than anything else. ( I was shocked to go back and see that the My Little Ponies movies probably did not warrant the Oscars I so thought they did. Although they still deserve a Nobel Peace Prize – they helped so many species find peace in their realm!)
This post was sparked in my mind when I read Charlaine Harris on True Blood and Vampires That Sparkle on The Huffington Post a while ago. I’m finally, finally getting fully on the True Blood bandwagon, and I’m so glad I did because Charlaine Harris is a hoot (and the type of woman who I don’t think would mind being called that.)
Some people are purists and they’ll like any vampire show as long as they like the rules that are presented. Other’s prefer to latch on based on loyalty to characters from novels, or to whatever has the tastiest-looking cast. The only real comparing you can do is with technical deals about the special effects, but you can hardly blame those 90’s shows for not being able to do what shows can do now.
So, can new vampire series compete with the ones from the 90’s like Buffy, Angel and Forever Knight? I don’t care much what a shows vampire lore is (as long as it’s interesting and not largely flawed) and feel that character dynamics and fresh plot lines are a bigger sell. Every new series is a chance to give us new characters to love.
Vampire’s have been around TV for a while. Do you recognize half of these vampire-based TV shows?
ADAPT OR DIE: A List of Vampire TV Shows
Drack Pack – 1980 (Animated TV series)
Mr. and Mrs. Vampire – 1980 (TV series, pilot only)
The Little Vampire – 1986 (TV series)
Forever Knight – 1989 (TV series)
Dracula: the series – 1990 (TV series)
Blood Ties – 1991 (TV movie)
Little Dracula – 1991 (Animated TV series)
Kindred: The Embraced – 1996 (TV series)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 1997 (TV series)
The Hunger – 1997 (TV movie)
Mona the Vampire – 1999 (Animated TV series)
Don Dracula – 1999 (TV series)
My Date with a Vampire – 1999 (TV series)
Angel – 1999 (TV series)
Vampire High – 2001 (TV series)
Buffy the Animated Series – 2002 (Animated TV series, greenlit then not picked up and ultimately unaired. Four minute pilot floats on the web.)
Blood – 2005 (Animated TV series)
Young Dracula – 2006 (TV series)
Black Blood Brothers – 2006 (Animated TV series)
Blade the series – 2006 (TV series)
Blood Ties – 2006 (TV series)
Moonlight – 2007 (TV series)
The Lair – 2007 (TV series)
True Blood – 2008 (TV series)
The Vampire Diaries – 2009 (TV series)
The Gates – 2010 (TV series)
The Traveling Vampire Show – 2010 (TV series?)
(Some were novels or movies before the listed dates when they aired as TV series. Movies were not included in this list. Shows with vampire episodes were excluded. This is an incomplete list, and it is not limited to US series.)
Not every new TV series will be good or worthy of your attention, but some will. So, here’s to no more “Oh, I wish we had twitter back when Gilmore Girls was on…” New fandoms need my attention. And hell, I need them too.
So come on, you shiny new fictional characters. Make me love you.