We sat through the first screening of teen romance, Vampire Diaries, about a quiet brunette girl who finds forbidden love with a sexy vampire. Sound familiar? Sadly VD makes Twilight look like Shakespeare. This show is a giant sparkle crap.
With the ongoing vampire craze it's hard to weed out the imitators, the wannabes, and the just plain drek. At a screening of the pilot episode of the CW's new Vampire Diaries, producer Kevin Williamson addressed this obvious comparison between this and other current vamp hits.
Because of Twilight and True Blood is why I'm here... I wanted to do vampires as a result of those other vampire shows.
Unfortunately for him, he said this after we'd already watched the pilot. After we'd sat through watching a poor girl almost get sucked dry by a overly-sexed-so-hard-it's-laughable vampire (he thinks turning into a crow is sexy) and left for dead in the woods, only to cut to a gaggle of High School girls lamenting the fact that "Elena gets all the boys."
The Vampire Diaries novels contain some of the most amateur, insincere and out-of-touch writing I have ever experienced; and I actually like the literary crack known as Twilight. These "books" are so horrendous that I could not even get into them on a guilty pleasure level, so I didn't have very high hopes for the television adaptation. And I was right.
The show fulfills all the prerequisites for today's teen dramas: semi-dated pop culture references, teens using the novel media of text messaging to communicate with one another, substance abuse, angst, and hotness, but this time with the added bonus of the supernatural. Seriously, it's like Dawson's Creek with out the witty banter and with vampires, so maybe One Tree Hill with vampires. Either way, we had to sit through the main character, orphan Elena, pleading with her drug-addled brother to stop using pills and selling them to her friends. Pills — seriously, like ecstasy or something, PILLS...spare me from the after school special and low-level character arc, just to prove that Elena CARES.
But I'm getting ahead of myself — there was so much more badness to witness. The pilot opens with a sad meta attempt to be self aware with fog rolling through the woods and a voiceover from the first of two vampire brothers we meet, quiet and brooding Stefan Salvatore.
"I have been hiding in the shadows alone in the world. I am a vampire and this is my story."
The melodrama continues, with voiceovers both from the boy vampire and from his love interest, star student Elena Gilbert, played by Nina Dobrev. Sitting in a graveyard as smoke rolls in around her, Elena writes in her diary that gives the show its name,
"Dear Diary, today will be different. It has to be. I will smile and it will be believable…"
Unfortunately, nothing is believable about this show, and I'm not talking about the supernatural elements. All the female characters are painted as shallow, idiotic, boy-crazed morons. The boys are sex-craving jocks, one of which attempts to date rape a supporting character (which I think is actually a required plot line for a teen drama, it's in the contract next to the bulimia episode). The teens all hang out at some East coast iteration of the Peach Pit, where they listen to Katy Perry and play pool, whilst talking about their feelings and the hot new vampire boy in town. Both Stefan and his insidious older vampire brother Damon, Lost's Ian Somerhalder, are played by obvious non-teens. Which adds a delightful pedophile motif as Elena, the main character and Stefan's love interest, actually does look like a high schooler.
The writers also blew through much of the first book just in this episode, possibly because they weren't sure if viewers would wait around long enough to get to the juicy details. During the panel the cast and producers seemed less than enthused about the show, maybe because of the audible indications by the crowd that it's not something they'll be watching once it actually airs.
The one thing that can be said about this show is that in certain ways it takes itself less seriously than international phenomenon Twilight; possibly because it has less to lose. There's no moral stance on the part of cast and crew, and in fact the first episode ends with Elena seductively closing the door to her house behind her as Damon comes in for a nightcap. That's right, they have sex on this show. There's also teen drinking, drug use and vampires who suck humans' blood. But while these sound like the ingredients for at least some good trash culture, you get the feeling that everyone involved in this show has pretty much given up on it, before it's even begun. However, executive producer Julie Plec makes one distinction between this tale of teen fangs and angst, and the one that started it all, Twilight.
She is more correct than she even realizes.