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By Meredith Alloway · September 16, 2011
As I sat down to watch the season three premiere of The Vampire Diaries alone, in my apartment, with a glass of wine, I realized that all across the continent countless groups of giggling high school girls were swarming around their parent’s TV dying of anticipation and ready for some bloodsucking. And hereI was, mourning the season finale of True Blood…this, I thought, should be interesting.
I have to give the CW credit; they always deliver a ridiculously good-looking cast, story lines that (at least for the first three seasons) are fast-paced and shock-packing, and there’s just enough skin to keep things hot. It seems the CW has found that the formula for success is in fact that simple: sex, suspense, and the supernatural. Heard of it before?
This season, the tables have turned. The pure, loving relationship between Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) disappeared when Stefan sacrificed himself in order to save her. We all feared what human blood would do to Stefan, and if he’d go crazy after all. And yup, he has. Paired with an evil werewolf-vampire hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan), he’s on a killing spree and won’t stop till he helps Klaus gain ultimate power. Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena are worried about Stefan and have started a search to find him. When Damon finds a clue that leads him to a house in Tennessee, he uncovers Stefan’s bloody human leftovers. “He feeds so hard that he rips them apart, blacks out, then he feels remorseful. So he puts them back together.” It’s clear Stefan is on a path of destruction.
This season we also get a little Romeo and Juliet werewolf style. Vampires and Werewolves aren’t on good terms, making Caroline (Candice Accola) and Tyler’s (Michael Trevino) friendship a little unorthodox. After using the word “horny” in casual conversation multiple times and laying on the tongue-in-cheek thick, they put their tongues inside each others’ cheeks (sorry I had too, in the spirit of the CW). Now things are dangerous. (Spoiler Alert) Don’t worry; the sex scene was PG-13, but scandalous enough. Pants and panties stayed on. Elena’s brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) turns to Matt (Zach Roerig) for help as he continues to try to understand what the ghosts from his past want from him and Bonnie only makes a short video-chat appearance.
The plot of the show is without a doubt a hammy-down. We’ve seen the brotherly rivalry (will he choose family over the fang?); we’ve seen the red cup adolescent parties (Who does she kiss tonight?) and we’ve definitely experienced the girl stuck in the middle of the two vampires (who does she choose?). Ah! But a key difference in The Vampire Diaries is that people don’t know vampires and werewolves exist. This adds the “Shhh” factor to the characters and world of the show that True Blood and Twilight don’t have. Secrets are always sexy, right? This also allows the CW to dismiss issues about politics, humanity, and the metaphorical comparisons the other vampire stories make with minority groups in America. But hey, teens don’t need to know about those things anyway…
As far as the quality of the show, the writing is shallow and most of the actors are pretty faces with moving mouths. The never-ending music underscoring yells, “Don’t listen to the bad writing! Listen to me and look at them! Some of the actors, particularly Ian Somerhalder who is both vicious and compassionate, have potential and do attempt to liven the one-dimensional characters and dialogue they’re delivered. I’d like to see how the entire cast would fare when free of the script’s constraints.
There’s no doubt that The Vampire Diaries has loyal fans and adamant viewers. The show does an acceptable job at character development, giving us hope for the fallen Stefan in particular, enough to lasso the adolescent boy-crazy crowd. The problem lies in the fact that it does have millions of viewers and kids are watching a show of fluff. If they want a show with meatier issues and dimensional characters, they have to pay extra for Premium channels. But, even then, those shows are R, if not NC-17, rated and most parents don’t want that for their kids.
But my roommate protests, “Vampire Diaries is great! Just a nice escape!” And she does make a point. After a long day at school, track or what-have-you practice, dinner with the family, and advanced algebra homework, maybe the CW’s viewers do deserve a little guilty pleasure. If they can’t have a glass of wine, at least give them an hour with some Vampires.