Twilight. True Blood. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer remake. The Vampire Diaries. These are all television shows, books or movies floating around or currently being made. The one thing they all have in common?
Yes, that’s right; all of these titles feature vampires in one form or another. It seems like the undead have come back to life and are taking popular culture by storm. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a poster of Robert Pattinson (vampire Edward Cullen from Twilight) or hearing whispers about a soon-to-be released vampire book.
So what exactly is it about the notion of vampires that seems to be driving humans crazy at the moment? Is it their ability to never age? Their undeniable sex appeal? Or is it just that Stephenie Meyer created such a wave with her Twilight saga that we’re now taking any vampire story we can get?
Make no mistake, the current vampire obsession started with Twilight and its followers New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. There have been surges of vampire-loving activity in the past, with books such as Ann Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and its many sequels and Joss Whedon’s television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I don’t think there has been anything as vamp-tastic as Twilight for a long time.
The story of an average teenage girl who falls in love with a dreamy vampire who really wants to drink her blood but abstains because he and his adopted vampire family are "vegetarians" – that is, they only drink the blood of animals – was an instant hit with teenage girls, and with adults who claimed they’d never read it but somehow knew every detail. With the release of the movie, Hollywood (and the rest of the world) has gone Twilight crazy, with action figure dolls, calendars, and even a "special edition autographed copy" of the movie being released. The books have climbed bestseller lists around the globe, and billions of people are eagerly awaiting the November release of the second movie in the franchise, New Moon.
In the wake of Twilight’s success, numerous books and TV shows have popped up, all with vampires as the main feature. One such show is True Blood, directed by Alan Ball (creator of Six Feet Under) and based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a book series by Charlaine Harris. True Blood tells the story of a world where vampires are trying to integrate into society. A "synthetic blood" has been invented, which allows the vampires to get all the nutrients they need without killing humans. The show centers on a psychic girl in a small town, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), and her interactions with vampires.
True Blood is decidedly more adult than the Twlight saga, and these vampires are not of the Edward Cullen variety. Although they technically don’t need to drink human blood, many of them can’t resist, especially if they happen to be having sex with a human (something which happens quite a lot, oddly enough). Additionally, vampire blood has become a black-market drug, having a similar effect as ecstasy, something which would never happen in the Twilight universe.
Despite these differences, it can be surmised that one of the reasons True Blood has become such a hit is the general resurgence in vampire-loving activity. True Blood most likely appeals to the older Twilight fans, the people who don’t like to admit they’ve actually read the books targeted at teenage girls, and who wouldn’t mind a few more sex scenes along with their vampires.
The Vampire Diaries is an upcoming television show, scheduled to air in 2009-2010. Like True Blood it is based on a series of novels, by L.J. Smith. The show is set in Virginia and revolves around Elena, a high school student, and two vampire brothers, one good, one evil, who are at war for her soul and for the souls of everyone in her town. This sounds a little more like Twilight than True Blood and I can imagine it will attract the same sort of audience Twilight did.