Vampires are the “it” supernatural of choice of the moment. They are everywhere you look, but which vampires taste the best? Er… I mean, which vampires are worth your time? On television, there are several shows that feature vampire characters: True Blood on HBO, The Vampire Diaries on The CW, The Gates on ABC, and Being Human on the BBC (and BBC America). So, if you like vampires, which of these vampire shows best suits your palette?
I must disclose that I am an old school vamp fan of the non-sparkly variety, but I still find great enjoyment in the vampires on TV today, even at the height of this Twilight-induced frenzy. Let me be your sommelier to this sampling of vampires on television to guide you to which show best suits your tastes by relating each of the aforementioned shows to actual beverages.
Arguably, the most visible show starring vampires is HBO’s True Blood, starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, and more. The show revolves around a not-so-ordinary human waitress, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and an extremely colorful ensemble cast of humans/supernaturals of Bon Temps, Louisiana as they are faced by a serial killer in season one, a crazed Maenad hell-bent on bringing her god to the physical plane in season two, and now vampire politics, the secret behind what Sookie is, and the introduction of werewolves in season three. This show is very trademark HBO in its sense of no-shame sexuality, violence, and twist (quite literally this season) of the bizarre.
Even though the show is based upon the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, writer Alan Ball has taken these characters to new directions, much to fan delight. If you are comfortable with HBO’s brand of television programming and are intrigued by a modern interpretation of supernaturals living in the small town of Bon Temps, you will be at home with this series. To say that this show has a fair share of eye candy for both women and men would be an understatement.
If True Blood were a beverage (outside of the HBO brand of Tru Blood citrus flavored, energy drinks), I would say that it is a full-bodied red wine made of Spanish grapes with a very dry finish. True Blood is a show for mature audiences only. It is a bit of an acquired taste and not something shared with all members of your family. Can you imagine watching those sex scenes with your grandma? I think not!
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
The Vampire Diaries on the other hand is aimed towards the Twilight crowd. Being on The CW, this show sells stock in the hard bodies of the incredibly hot (by both human and vampire standards), vampire Salvatore brothers played by Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder. Like Twilight, this series is based on the young adult book series of the same name by L.J. Smith. Like True Blood, the show takes a different and thankfully less whiney-angsty tone and more story-driven direction than the source material. Seriously, I tried to read the books and it was the most vapid, angry teen babble I’ve read in recent memory (with the exception of Twilight which absolutely cannot be called literature). The show has made significant modifications to the characters and created a riveting and seductive premise with its group of characters, human and vampire alike. It follows a human teenage girl, Elena (Nina Dobrev), and her relationship with the Salvatore brothers who arrive to the sleepy town of Mystic Falls with completely different intentions. Elena Gilbert mysteriously resembles Katherine, the Salvatore brothers’ maker and the show just keeps getting more and more juicy as the plotlines unfold. This show has a high soap opera quality, but you cannot turn away! This is the most beautiful-looking train wreck you will ever see.
If Vampire Diaries were a beverage, it would be a chocolate martini. It is sweetly geared towards a female audience and is my guilty pleasure of recent vampire shows.
ABC’s summer show, The Gates has a handful of vampires on it, but I will still count it in this comparison of television shows. The Gates is an exclusive gated community in which many of its residents have reasons to pay for their privacy. There are several supernatural types of characters on this show including, werewolves, witches, a succubus, and more to be revealed. Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), Luke Mably (28 Days Later), Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files), and Gloria Votsis (White Collar) are the more prominently featured vampires thus far in the show’s freshman season.
Mitra and Mably play Claire and Dylan Radcliff, a married couple who have chosen to move into The Gates for the sake of a ‘normal life’ to rear their young human adopted daughter, Emily. Christian, played by Blackthorne, has entered into the equation as a reminder of their ‘old’ life and still carries a torch for Claire. Votsis’ character, Vanessa Buckley, was just revealed to be a vampire who just happens to be married to the developer of the community. In The Gates, we see what lengths these supernaturals go through to blend in and how this puts an interesting twist on the idle rich of suburban life. Many have described The Gates as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Desperate Housewives, but I would say that it leans significantly heavy to the Desperate Housewives side. If you would like to see rich bitches throwdown with supernatural trappings to make things more complicated/interesting, The Gates is your cup of tea.
If The Gates were a beverage, it would be a Diet Coke. It is lower in caloric intake with flavorful gossip and no-she-didn’t moments but, light on actual character development.
This British show is actually so popular that SyFy is developing an American version of the show. Stateside, we are behind as the second season aired earlier this year in the UK whereas we are just now getting into the thick of it now. The premise for Being Human sounds like a joke, but it is a serious drama about a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf living together, struggling to live amongst humanity. Starring Aidan Turner as Mitchell the vampire, Russell Tovey as George the werewolf, and Lenora Crichlow as Annie the ghost, this show can make you gasp, cry, laugh, and scream at the television all in the same episode.
Being Human looks at how each of the characters fights to retain their humanity over their individual supernatural conditions concurrently with attempting to find their place within humanity. The characters’ supernatural conditions can be read as metaphors for real human conditions (addiction, social dysfunction, and lack of identity.) The first season addressed a supernatural threat whereas this season, the threat is of a human origin. The special effects are of a lower budget than Americans are used to, but the writing and performance of the actors more than make up for the lack of spectacular special effects. I am greatly impressed by what this show has accomplished in a mere six episodes for its first season and am riveted to my seat this second season.
If Being Human were a beverage, it would be a fine glass of delicious port with long legs, a marathon of flavor, and a soul-gripping, warming sensation. I heart this show so very much. You can read my review of the Season One DVD here.
So there you have it, folks. I hope you find this guide useful in choosing which vampire show you may want to sink your teeth into. Whether you choose True Blood, Vampire Diaries, The Gates, or Being Human (or any combination of the four), I hope you enjoy the vamp course for your television taste buds.
And that, ladies and gents… is the Shakedown on vampire shows on in 2010.