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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Vampire Diaries’ something to write about

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

Now that the “Twilight” movies are coming to an end, it’s a good thing we still have plenty of vampires to keep us company. “The Vampire Diaries,” based on the original book series by L.J. Smith and developed by Kevin Williamson, is the latest and most popular television show about vampires. Filled with teenage drama, love, lust and darkness, it has recovered some of the things “Twilight” lost with Stephenie Meyer’s colossal fourth book mistake. It’s Bella and Edward at its very best.

“The Vampire Diaries” tells the story of Elena (note the Italian name … remind you of Bella?) and her two boy-toy brothers, Stephan and Damon. Elena (Nina Dobrev), the good, beautiful and popular girl in school, lost her parents in a car accident. Every boy wants to date her and every girl wants to be like her (again, see: Bella) but her life is less than perfect. She lives with her suicidal, drug-addicted brother and her irresponsible aunt. Luckily, her boy-toys are willing to fight almost anyone (including each other) to keep her safe.

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is the simply irresistible bad boy in the show. Besides being uncommonly handsome and extremely sexy (he looks like the kind of guy who would take candy from a baby), he can also be deadly sweet at the proper moments. On the other hand, Stephan (Paul Wesley) is the good, sweet and perfect—if not a little boring—guy for whom Elena falls. The catch here is that Elena looks exactly like Katherine, Damon’s first and only love through the course of many centuries. By now you will have probably guessed that both Damon and Stephan fall in love with Elena and she ultimately has to choose between them (not without a few entertaining obstacles in the process).

The name of the TV show originated from the fact that the main characters keep journals (seriously, how else is Stephan expected to remember things that happened centuries ago?). Stephan even finds her journal and brings it to Elena (without reading it, of course) and we learn that her favorite writing place is the cemetery where Stephan stalks her. His excuse: “I know the risk but I have no choice … I have to know her.” He finally meets her in school when Elena’s friend Bonny points out his “hot back.” Things seem to flow from there, we catch them occasionally staring in class, smiling at each other and finally kissing.

Although the story is very similar to “Twilight,” L.J. Smith wrote her books before Stephenie Meyer even had the dream of Edward and Bella in the meadow. “The Vampire Diaries” is much darker and more real than “Twilight.” Edward’s virginity at 106 years of age can pretty much prove that Meyer is more interested in the romantic fantasy; Smith is much more concerned with the sexiness and darkness of a vampire. “The Vampire Diaries” is about the appeal of a vampire rather than the intensity of the unreal love affair. In the books, Elena and Stephan drank blood from each other and their love escalates to more sexual levels much faster than “Twilight.” It provides a greater sense of reality, even through its fiction.

As far as the acting goes, the vampires here are more believable. They do not sparkle, have snowy white skin or appear to be in pain constantly. The heroin is also not helpless or depressed and she plays the two most important (and contrasting parts) very well. As Katherine, Nina Dobrev is exquisitely evil and as Elena she is impressively sweet and good-natured. She can be both sexy and naive. We see her covered in blood while fighting, but we also see her giggling and gushing over boys with her best friends.

It might be worth noting that the chemistry between Nina and Ian Somerhalder is real, off the stage as well as on. The Elena-Damon moments are by far better than the Elena-Stephan moments. Ian is very interesting, like Nina he can be both terribly mean and outstandingly sweet and protective at the same time. I can almost hear every girl thinking: “I wish my boyfriend were more like him.” That said, Paul Wesley is also a good actor, nonetheless he needs to loosen up a little, even for his role as the good, philosophical vampire he is too serious.

Being the teen drama that it is, not everyone might admit to loving “The Vampire Diaries” but even this secrecy adds to its popularity. Every time the actors creep into a little dark corner you know what’s going to happen next and you cannot stop watching. The TV show is simply irresistible even if overly dramatic. For all the vampire-lovers out there, fear not, “Twilight” might be over but for “The Vampire Diaries,” it’s just the beginning.