Wed
Nov 30 2011 11:50am
Why You Should Be Watching Vampire Diaries

Why You Should Be Watching Vampire Diaries

When VD (that’s right, I went there) premiered back in 2009, my husband and I watched the pilot. We weren’t exactly enthralled, but as lovers of genre, we gave it another shot the following week.

We didn’t watch the third episode.

I’m not even sure exactly what it was that made us stop. The story wasn’t moving forward in what seemed like an interesting way? The characters were flat, and the dialogue felt like it was trying too hard? Whatever the reason, we gave up on the show, despite friends telling us how great it was.

It wasn’t until this summer that we had a reason to revisit Vampire Diaries, and after a binge week of watching about half of the first season, we were hooked. The story moved so fast and was so (bear with me) fangs out. Main characters died or had other life-changing things happen to them. The mythology deepened and expanded in unique and unexpected ways. Sure, they didn’t hit a home run with every choice, but the show was becoming surprisingly good. By the second season (which, thanks to streaming video we were able to start immediately after the first,) it was fast becoming one of our favorite shows.

So. If you’re a genre lover who thinks you’re too good for this show as we did, I’d like to offer up a few reasons why you should give this show a chance. A fair warning – there will be spoilers in this article. I’m going to try to be vague, but since this is a show where the big twists are often the reasons to watch, some story leakage is probably going to be impossible to avoid.

She doesn’t want to be with him forever… necessarily.

Unlike some other supernatural teen romance stories, there’s a point in the second season where everything’s about to hit the fan and people are likely going to die where our Romeo and Juliet stand-ins (Elena and Stefan), share a tender afternoon and talk about their love for each other… and how she really doesn’t want him to turn her because she wants to, you know, live, and isn’t sure she wants to be with him forever because – duh, Stefan – she’s a teenager. A small thing, perhaps, but refreshing in a world where Twilight is bigger than the Beatles.

Why You Should Be Watching Vampire Diaries

Caroline is awesome.

Although at first she comes across as a pale imitation of Buffy’s Cordelia, Caroline goes through one of the most dramatic, fascinating, and believable arcs on the show. Actually, now that I think about it, kind of like Cordelia… though for completely different reasons. Caroline deals with some of the heaviest stuff on the show – huge life change, fear of parental disappointment and hate – yet through it all she still feels like that chipper, immature girl we meet in the pilot, albeit one who has been hardened and matured by life.

Repercussions.

This may seem odd to laud in a show that frequently uses things like magic rings that allow people to come back from the dead, but Vampire Diaries is absolutely a show where the choices characters make have repercussions. Bring someone back without a magic ring? Well, you’ve just messed with the way things should be and now a rift to the afterlife has been opened in your town. Have fun handling that. Determined to help your brother at all costs? Deal! Become my murderous slave and leave the woman you love.

Mythology that’s still interesting after three seasons.

Maybe that’s not saying much, I don’t know, but Vampire Diaries – despite playing with creatures and tropes that most of us are not only familiar with, but getting tired of – has managed to find enough little wrinkles to keep it interesting. I can genuinely say that they’ve taken this mythology in directions I never expected or even thought about, but always in ways that make logical sense within the confines of the world.

General badassery.

While the superpowered creatures naturally get to have the most fun when it comes to bloodletting – Damon kills people just for the hell of it sometimes, it seems – it also allows the human characters to be pretty active – even if they don’t often succeed. Alaric, with his supply of creature-hunting weaponry and magical protections, is the closest thing they have to Van Helsing. Elena regularly stands her ground against forces that could rip her to shreds. Her brother Jeremy does the same… though he doesn’t often come out as unscathed as her. And recently another human character actually drowned himself (don’t worry, he’s much better now) in order to get information from a ghost. And even though the show makes it painfully clear that normal humans can’t compete physically with their supernatural enemies, there are numerous times where they use deception and trickery to still come out on top.

Why You Should Be Watching Vampire Diaries

Moving right along.

But the best thing about the show has to be the pace. A quarter of the way through season one, someone who seemed like a main character had died, returned as a vampire, and then been staked so that they were gone for good… arguably. In three seasons we’ve seen vampires, witches, werewolves, doppelgangers, hybrids (I’m not explaining), thousand-year-old curses, vampire hunters, secret societies, and a vampire that feeds on other vampires. Even when the show isn’t at its best, it’s hurtling along so quickly that you’ll get to the next cool thing before you know it.


Juliana Weiss-Roessler is not a vampire... yet. She has been writing professionally for 10 years. Currently, she’s an editor for PinkRaygun, a geek girl e-zine, and a food and organic living contributor to Savings.com. She has ghostwritten one sci-fi novel and is now ghostwriting a second one. You can learn more about her writing at WeissRoessler.com or follow her geekery and adventures onTwitter@julweiss.

17 comments
Edgewalker
1. Edgewalker
Agreed. This show is fantastic. It's funny, smart and has tons of twists that I rarely see coming. People die left and right and usually stay dead.

And Damon is awesome. In one episode, a vampire minion is sent to deliver a message to him and Damon kills him, saying, "People always say don't kill the messenger. I do. You know why? It sends a message."

Brilliant.
B H
2. Greyhawk
Edgewalker--brilliant quote. Damon's humor is a large part of what makes this show a lot of fun to watch. While I like the show, my wife, who btw is not a big fantasy reader, absolutely loves it and I put the kids to bed solo if we are runing behind on a Vampire Diaries night--she doesn't want to miss a minute!
Edgewalker
3. Game Kitten
Vampire Diaries is wonderful. Caroline is very cute and the stuff her character goes through makes her my favorite character.

I definitely agree on the mythology points. They just touched on something I've always wondered about vampires; if you allow a vampire into your residence, can you ever revoke that invitation? At least according to the Vampire Diaries you can.
Ian B
4. Greyfalconway
I've never been interested in this series but this article makes me wonder. Is this like some Smallville CW crap? I watched that for 3 seasons before I just couldn't take it anymore. I've been able to stick with True Blood mainly because of the hammy Elvira feel it has, but Vampire Diaries always seemed like something tweens would get into, not guys in their 20's, am I wrong?
Zayne Forehand
5. ShiningArmor
@4 - You have to get past the first 5 or so episodes where you will see some similarities to Twilight (but apparently the VD books were first) but as soon as you hit the first flashback episode, the show takes off. Yes, there are still some teen angst sub-plots in the show, but they thankfully stay just that, sub-plots. The mythology of the show claims the A-Plot spot every time. Even when the angst is dialed up, it's always in relation to the main plot and usually helps drive the characters into the big decisions. It's dark, violent, and bloody, and just dang good entertainment.

I'm a 28-year old man. I hate Twilight and I love Vampire Diaries. I would highly recommend this show.
Edgewalker
6. DebraLC
I agree, at first I thought, "Why am I wasting my time?" But after watching the first 6 episodes (in a row) I was hooked. (And I'm in my 50s.) Now I can hardly wait for January when they continue the story. I actually like it better than TrueBlood. It's just got a good story going.
Edgewalker
7. itsmona
I love this article because it's so similar to my story with TVD. The pilot was awful and I stopped watching it but returned a few months later and now it's one of my favourite shows. I am slightly disappointed that you never mentioned Bonnie who I feel is one of the most underrated characters on the show (without her, most would be dead!)
Lisa Smith
8. Lisette71
You make the good valid points however you really don't emphasize the fact that Damon is the glue to the show! Ian Somerhalder does a great job of playing a trickly character. The addition of Katherine in season 2 as a villian was also great. However, now they are not playing the character well in season 3.
tatiana deCarillion
9. decarillion
I love this show. I made my husband sit through it with me, a few times, and he's hooked (although I don't know that he'd admit that LOL).

This show has, consistently, the highest ratings on the CW, from week to week. The characters are interesting, and most of the actors are terrific. It's not nearly as graphic as True Blood, but it has its moments. Oh, and it has SNARK! Ian Somerhalder's Damon's dry-wit one-liners crack us up, every week.

As stated, the pace can be break-neck, and when the episode is over (and there's almost always a terrific 59th minute scene!), I need to catch a breath and say..wtf?!?

(yes, these books pre-date Twilight by more than a decade)
Edgewalker
10. Nash
I was a season and a half late watching the show buy once I started I was hooked and had to go back and watched all the missed episodes. Definitely Damon's humor and character and just how Ian delivers it is a big draw for me. Though the relationships btwn the characters, the triangle, brotherly love, bromance, friendships, girlfriends, etc very nicely done. And the best is the mythology and the shock value that you never know what quite to expect. And I am in my late 30s and this is the only show I watch religiously.
Edgewalker
11. John R
This show is absolutely great. Get past the first episodes and I guarantee you'll be hooked. It's been two and a half seasons and it still surprises me every time. The acting couldn't be better (Nina Dobrev as Katherine is the hilight of the show). The storyline is always moving, and even when you don't like where things are going (ghost storyline), believe me, the writers will eventually get there and you'll be blown away. Btw, I'm a guy in my 20's and I never miss it.
Edgewalker
12. Sarawackadoo
I was in the same boat as a lot of people here. I started watching the pilot and just couldn't do it. But somehow I managed to catch an episode later in the season and was hooked! I also read the books back in the day, but I actually like the show a lot better.

I just wish that Secret Circle would pick up like VD did. I tried to watch it but it's just missing something!
Zayne Forehand
13. ShiningArmor
@7 I'm normally a sucker for a witch (it's the reason season 4 of True Blood was my favorite since the 1st) but I think this show made witches a little too powerful for their own good. You have to quadruple team them just so 3 can get the headaches and the fourth can swoop and break their neck. I don't like them being able incapacitate everything with a look.

Bonnie was probably my second favorite character in season 1 next to Damon and then season 2 came along and Caroline became pure awesome in motion and Katherine was a great villain. I disagree with @8 that Katherine has been misused in season 3. I think her character evolved after the events of the second season and I like where she's at now. Two words: Ba-Boom. This show gets continually better in my mind and the midseason finale was incredible. I love the big "plan" episodes like the Masquerade Party in season 2. They're my favorites.

I would love to see Tor.com start a recap of this show. Heck, I'll even write if I have to. I'd like to discuss this show weekly with people that aren't tweens talking about dreamy Damon is.

As a side note, one of the things that really caught my attention (as mentioned by the OP) in this show is Elena's strength as a character. She's fiercely independent and will stake a bitch if she has to. One of my favorite moments for her and I can't remember which season was when she gets cornered and instead of yelling for help, she turns around, grabs a broom, breaks it over knee, and tries to stake her attacker. Eat it Bella. I also agree with @11 that Nina Dobrev became the biggest pleasant surprise of this show for me, especially her dual acting as Elena/Katherine.
Jack Flynn
14. JackofMidworld
I had no interest at all when this first came out (another vampire romance? blah) but I caught a couple of episodes while my wife was watching it on netflix about two weeks ago and then made her pretty much stop watching it without me. We wrapped up season two over Thanksgiving weekend.

I skipped most of the comments because only the first 2 seasons are on the 'flix and I haven't seen/heard anything about season 3 yet, but I have to agree that Caroline grew so much she's definitely one of the best characters on the show.

Yeah, if you're not watching this, you really should be.

Did I mention that I got my teenage daughter watching it, too? Score!! Bonding moments!!!
Edgewalker
15. BloodyObsessed
I, too, watched the pilot when it first aired and thought it was too campy and gave up on it. But then I saw it on netflix and decided to give it another shot. I watched the first season in less then a week and then the second and then went scrambling to the network's site to catch the episodes of Season 3 I'd already missed. Now, I am ridiculously hooked and borderline obsessed. TVD is one of the best shows around and arguably the best vampire show. This coming from an isanley devoted Buffy/Angel fan. TVD has taken that spot in my mind!
Edgewalker
16. Foxessa
Yes, what happens with Caroline in the second season is the very best thing about VD.

Nevertheless I didn't like the second season as much as the first and I'm not sure I'll be bothering with the third. Though perhaps your feelings about it will persuade me to at least give it a twirl for a couple of eps.

Love, C.
Edgewalker
17. Saggie
Same story as everyone. I tried watching TVD when it first came out in 2009 but I gave up after episode two. I only caught it now by accident while I was waiting for the premiere of the much advertised "The Secret Circle", which was to start right after VD, and I had the TV on mute while I waited. Somewhere along the way the mute turned to volume and I started watching the show with one eye.

By the end of the show I was so intrigued I went to Youtube immediately after Secret Circle to get more videos on TVD since I still had no idea what the show was about. YT videos led to CW website, and I watched the last five shows of Season 2 back-to-back. By this time I was insanely hooked, so I scrambbled to my local library to get the first season, and before that was done I reserved the second one. But it couldn`t come fast enough so I spent $34 downloading season 2 epidodes from Amazon in one night(I never slept that night).

I have never been addicted to anything but boy, am I a proud addict of TVD. I even read TVD fanfiction every single day to satisfy the cravings! One of the best shows on TV that`s for sure, great acting(I can`t stand Twilight only because of bad acting), great chemistry, plotlines, twists, mythology, and never knowing who is going to die next. It certainly keeps you on your toes!

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