Client: Me. You. Anyone who hasn’t changed the channel.
Job: Justifying my (your) (our?) addiction to The Vampire Diaries.
So I love The Vampire Diaries. For two reasons.
I know you understand (right?). But I also know that at some point, whether in the ticket line at the theatre with your boyfriend or at Christmas dinner with your family, you are going to be asked the question:
Why do you like this vampire stuff?
And you aren’t going to have snapshots of Stefan and Damon to pull out of your wallet. Unless you do. In which case you may need more help than the TV Consultants can give.
But if you don’t have a Salvatore polaroid in your pocket, then you may find the following guide useful.
Four Legitimate Reasons in Defence of Watching The Vampire Diaries
1. Vampire stories deal with an essential human question: can you overcome your nature?
If you look at superhero movies over the past few years, you will see that overcoming your natural inclinations and fulfilling your purpose is a common theme. In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes tells Bruce Wayne, “It’s not who you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.” The Green Goblin warns Spiderman that for all his efforts, the people of New York will glory in watching him fail. So why doesn’t he use his power for his own ends? “Because it’s right.” Tony Stark tells Pepper that he has to save the people his arrogance has placed in danger because he is alive “for a reason… I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it’s right.”
The vampire genre is essentially the same story, except instead of being called to overcome a human nature and accept a super-human calling, the vampire struggle is to not be overwhelmed by their supernatural nature, to remember in heart and mind and action what it is to be human. In the modern vampire myth, this struggle consists in the vampire resisting an overwhelming thirst for human blood, and being a vegetarian. In a manner of speaking.
2. Vampire stories are Eucharistic. Or, rather, anti-Eucharistic.
I am a big fan of stories that show our need for grace by portraying what life is like without it. And intentional or not, these stories are often obsessed with the search for grace. Vampires are undead beings, and they have a constant hunger for life-blood. When they are cut off from human blood, their powers deteriorate; they become weak and eventually enter a catatonic hibernation state. When they feed, their speed and strength and power is astounding.
The vampire thirst for blood is like the human need for love, or the soul for grace. Humanity is constantly searching for the fountain of youth, the secret to eternity; and through the sacrifice of unwilling (or compelled) victims, vampires obtain a sort of eternity. So vampires are like inverse Catholics. It was through a willing victim that Catholics are given the Eucharist, “the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (CCC 1405).
3. Vampire stories are full of history.
The plot of The Vampire Diaries is wrapped up in the history of the town of Mystic Falls, the founding families, the original vampire race, a strain of werewolves, a clan of witches, ghosts, and—oh—ordinary humans. There is a lot more going on than, say, a hyped-up romance between a four-hundred-year-old vampire who has spent his many years amassing a modest CD collection and a moody girl whose education has yet to pass the twelfth grade.
The historical intrigue also provides a plot line that isn’t totally reliant on sex. (True Blood, anyone?)
4. The Vampire Diaries is not Twilight. I may or may not have alluded to this already.
But really, is there any comparison?
No. No, there is not. Seriously. There was even a vote.