“What do you mean you’ve never watched Twilight?”
It was early 2021. My roommate and I were in the midst of another lockdown, and had reached the point of the work day where we both came down from sitting in our rooms/work-from-home offices to sit in the living room for a change of scenery.
“I don’t know; it wasn’t on purpose! I saw one of them in theatres like ten years ago, and I think I’ve seen most of the first one? I don’t really remember.”
My roommate had heard enough. No longer was I going to be permitted to exist within the same walls with such a horrifying lack of cultural awareness. We were millennials, dammit, and I had the audacity to not know anything about Twilight?
Evenings for the following week fell into a schedule: finish work, make dinner, and pull up the Twilight movies on Netflix. My Netflix recommendations stopped showing the familiar questionable sci-fi, fantasy, and anything in which a man decides a sword is a good substitute for having to confront his feelings, replaced algorithmically with more supernatural content and circa-2010 romances as I was treated to the most incredible ride I could have hoped for.
The result of that journey is this: a non-exhaustive list of the most relatable characters in the Twilight movies (or at least as “relatable” as anyone connected to a family of immortal undead who are super rich, super dramatic, and supermodels can be) ranked from least to most relatable by a person who has just watched the entire series for the first time in 2021, and lacks literally any other context about Stephenie Meyer’s wonderful, chaotic, high-emotion world and its vampires, werewolves, and good dads who just want to watch the game in peace…
10. Carlisle Cullen
Stunning good looks aside, coven patriarch Carlisle gets points for working hard to create a peaceful vampire commune where humans are friends, not food. He also earns points for keeping up with constant changes and advances in medicine over the years, and for clearly making good investments in order to have multiple properties to rotate through. At the same time, Carlisle comes off as unrelatable, far too upper class… and honestly, I’m afraid he could charm me into joining his vampire family with very minimal effort. For all of these reasons (which may or may not be mostly jealously on my part) he earns a low position on this list.
9. Lee Pace + Rami Malek
While I don’t remember either of their characters’ actual names in Breaking Dawn, I think maybe that’s okay. I just like to imagine their agents calling them up and pitched, “big movie, end of the series so no commitment, handful of lines, they just need stunning, talented actors for a quick shoot over the weekend,” to which they both responded “I’m in!”—and I will be forever grateful for that.
Given that Emmett doesn’t have to say “STRENGTH!” to pick things up, Dakota Fanning’s Volturi character verbalizing the word “pain” while psychically causing agony is a style choice, and I fully respect her for it. It’s good to be clear about your intentions, and to have a catchprase to base your brand on. Jane knows who she is, and I’m here for it.
7. Alice Cullen
Alice Cullen’s upbeat nature and comfort with her own body makes her stand out from the rest of her sort-of-siblings. She instantly defers to Bella’s perceived Main Character energy, and seems to devote most of her time to caring for Bella, often serving as her only friend. Alice and Bella would have been an incredible couple, but Alice, despite being able to see the future, decided to settle for one with Jasper.
6. Jacob Black
Jacob is the ideal best friend. There is a universe in which he and Bella hang out regularly, tuning her truck and fixing bikes while Alice and Jacob’s partner chat on the porch, but that was tragically not to be. Taylor Lautner’s ability to deliver the line “werewolf telepathy” with a straight face is incredible, as is his approach to ‘explaining’ everything to Charlie. In addition, the fact that his shirt always needs to be removed for transformation, while the jorts are somehow able to change with him is extremely good, and while that’s probably not something he individually chooses, I respect it and give him points for it.
I’m going to be honest: most of the points I’m giving Michael Sheen’s vampire pope character here are purely for style, but he deserves every single one of them. Setting up shop for the high-ranking Volturi in Rome takes a level of confidence matched only by his eye for aesthetics. If you’re going to rule the vampire world, you might as well do it from an ornate throne surrounded by only the most fashionable folks as you try to collect vampires with useful powers like so many Pokémon. Also, traveling across the world to not fight someone in an open field shows restraint and wisdom, and also apparently necessitates the need for a very extended sequence about the cool battle that would have occurred if you had just gone ahead and fought them instead. Extremely valid: 10/10 would follow Aro into (not a) battle.
4. Rosalie Hale
Rosalie being suspicious of Bella and unhappy about the Cullen family immediately accepting this human teen and risking themselves for her is extremely relatable. Their secret vampire coven is based on keeping a fairly low profile and remaining a tight-knit group. Then, suddenly, her brooding brother brings home a seventeen-year-old he met at high school that week, and her entire family is immediately making a fancy dinner they cannot eat and revealing all of their secrets to her. When Bella does become a regular around the house, Rosalie actively discourages her from making the rash, permanent decision to become an undead, immortal being who forever thirsts for blood, though Bella is ultimately undeterred by these warnings. Rosalie gets full marks for effort.
3. The Other Forks High School Students
Jessica, Angela, and Eric are just trying to have a fun high school experience. They’ve learned to let the Cullens do their thing, while the three of them engage in normal student stuff like writing for the paper, hanging out after school, and stressing about prom. While Bella is frantically trying to tackle every major life decision before the age of twenty, Jessica, Angela, and Eric were definitely applying to colleges and building resumes. They also put a tremendous amount of effort into making Bella feel welcome and connected, though most of that effort is ignored and unappreciated. Bella may have Edward and eternal (sort of) life, but Forks High is going to have well-organized reunions and an active alumni Facebook group for years thanks to this trio.
2. Edward Cullen
Edward only gets ranked this high because of his commitment to making pretentiousness his brand. Edward was born in the early 1900s, but his whole identity is built around pretending that’s the reason he’s aloof and out of touch. We are led to believe he listens more or less exclusively to Debussy and other classical artists, when he lived through massive, music-changing moments like The Day the Music Died and Woodstock. On their honeymoon, it is revealed that he speaks Portuguese, which is implied to be something he studied as a way to pass some of his extensive lifetime. (I take this is as a personal challenge because I very much worry that were I to live to one hundred and seven, I would still speak only one language but have played through every possible romance arc in Dragon Age: Inquisition seventy times.) His bedroom is as unwelcoming, uncomfortable, and perfectly pretentious as he is, and he should be recognized for the effort and cohesion in his chosen brand.
1. Charlie Swan
The still point of calm rationality in a storm of supernatural emotions, Charlie Swan is absolutely correct about everything. Though he’s framed as the classic overprotective father, Charlie is just trying to keep the town safe and enjoy a slice of berry pie down at the diner every Thursday. He doesn’t know that the outrageously pretty town doctor’s family are all vampires, but he does know that their family has a very bizarre vibe that borders on cultish, and that his eighteen-year-old daughter falling in love with one of the Cullens does not sit well with him. His attempts to bond with, encourage, and learn about his daughter are constantly rebuffed, as are his suggestions that she should accept the offered friendship of what appears to be the entirety of her high school.
Charlie continues to be extremely and justifiably concerned when this same daughter, having no other friends save for the moody Cullen boy, gets married at nineteen and promptly disappears, calling home only to say something vague and worrisome about a serious illness, then reappearing a month later with a child. The closest thing he gets to an explanation for any of this (or for some of the local crime scenes he has had to attend), is from Billy’s boy, who pulls of his shirt in the woods and aggressively morphs into a giant wolf right in front of him. Charlie Swan is not only the most relatable character in Twilight, but in all of modern cinema, and he deserves a trophy and some rest.
Baby Renesmee: The credit here goes more to the CGI artist who must have asked, “Why are we not using a real baby? Is it going to do something a normal baby can’t do?” and when the answer came back (“No; it’s just going to do baby stuff…”) still dutifully went ahead to help create the nightmare newborn offspring of Bella and Edward.
Bella Swan: Bella gets an honourable mention because she is definitely how I thought I came off in high school. Aloof, special in my utter averageness, and a dramatically misunderstood main character. She is relatable in a way I am absolutely desperate to forget.
Jasper Hale: And finally, let us salute Jasper Hale for his ability to steal every scene regardless of whether or not I think he was supposed to, and for that bat flip.
Cassidy Rae Proctor grew up in a small town in Ontario, before making the leap to a slightly less small town in Ontario, where she now resides with too many books and a number of struggling plants. She studied creative writing, and currently works in libraries, where she’s made a career out of being overenthusiastic about all the things she loves. You can find her wandering the woods in anachronistic dress, or on Twitter at @Cassidy_Rae.