So... Vampire Diaries... I'll admit I was heavily skeptical in season 1. So many shows had been my Extremely Emotionally Abusive Boyfriends by then that I pretty much approached every ep with my arms crossed and a cynical 'oh rly?' expression on my face. You have cute vampire brothers, do you? You have a range of interesting female characters, do you? You have an amusingly snarky villain, do you? You are surprisingly well plotted, are you? I resisted, people. I resisted HARD. And that should have been easy given that the Vampire Diaries is full of pop culture cliches and isn't humorous about it (or at least leaves it to Damen alone to be humorous about it).
However! The show totally won we round. I admit it. I got attached. I am attached. And I say this knowing it's probably going to fall apart around me in season 2, because I've been so continually surprised by its ability to produce actual plot twists, and also by its consistent handling of characters and the relationships between them in such a way as to maximise the storytelling potential. There are no filler episodes in this show, people! And yes, it is 'just' a gothic teen romance. But it really knows its tropes well and handles them brilliantly. The writing is certainly not prize-winning, but it is pitched at the level it needs to be. And the cast do great work with the scripts. The casting overall is stellar. The CW totally cast for looks, yeah--the male and female eye candy on this show is high calibre--but they don't skimp on acting ability either. Also, the cast is large enough to sustain a lot of storytelling.
Admittedly, I would be happier if they hadn't killed off Anna. :( She was probably my favourite character to date on the show. However, I like a lot of the characters, including Elena, at least somewhat, which is insanely unusual for me since I rarely if ever like protagonists. I think Elena is an interesting heroine in part because she's an emotional caretaker. She looks after others--that's how she defines herself. While it can be problematic (e.g. when they don't want her interference) it also gives her a solid self-identity that isn't all about her boyfriend.
Stefan kind of fascinates me but I do not like him. Neither do I hate him, but I do find him smug, self-congratulatory and more than a little hypocritical. Which ... I kind of enjoy because it's so obvious. I pretty much find all 'hero'/'good guy' characters hypocrites eventually, so it saves a whole lot of hassle that Stefan is so obviously problematic straight away. I'm weirdly fond of him in this reverse psychology way: I'm glad he's around so he can annoy me. :) And push me into Damen's point of view. :p Also I'm mesmerised by the actor's body--does he have a GRAM of fat? ANYWHERE?!
Yeah, yeah, I love Damen. I was even more resistant to him than I was to the show overall. At first I thought 'oh yeah, Damen's fun' but assumed that his characterisation wouldn't be solid over time or that he would suffer badass decay. In retrospect I love so much that the showrunners were confident enough with making him truly villainous in season 1, and only revealing the sympathetic backstory relatively slowly. Also, I love, love, LOVE that as soon as they did reveal the details of Damen's epic love of Katherine and her abuse of him, they pressed a huge reset on Damen's badass status by having him kill Jeremy in a fit of Katherine-enduced rage! It meant that at the same time as we were given most reason to sympathise with him, they also ensured that his fundamental characterisation would not devolve in some annoying 'finding my inner woobie' way. So yeah: totally smitten! But I don't want him to change. I want him to keep on being 'evil' because the show is waaaay more interesting that way. (DAMEN AGREES.)
Also Katherine? IS VERY FUN. And I cannot WAIT to see what shenanigans she and Caroline are going to get up to! :D But omg, BAD taste in guys. Who would pick Stefan?! Booooooooring.
Other character faves of mine are Alaric (yay, it's so good to see you back in 2.03!), Jenna (she's sweet!) and Caroline. I have a soft spot for intellectually limited entitled bitches, and I am really enjoying her vamp plotline so far. The show subtly made sure that she and Matt were at their cutest as a couple right before she got turned. I was so glad they had her actually kill someone too--showing how horrible it really is. Also, I am VERY amused at the revelation that vampirism exacerbates personality traits. LOL, Stefan thinks he is just SUPER-EMPATHETIC. HA! Yeah, super hypocritical and entitled too, dude! You and Caroline are well matched actually.
While I'm not naturally drawn to her, I also appreciate Bonnie's contribution to the show. I like the work they did in Season 1 with her character, and I particularly loved her grandma, so killing her off and giving Bonnie a legit reason to hate vampires played really well to me. Her motives are really coherent and I like that she draws her own lines, even in her friendships.
Stefan amused me greatly in 2.03 by protecting Caroline so completely ineptly. I mean, first of all it's ridiculous that he protects her at all given that (as explored in 2.02) if it was anyone else he would totally stake them. But when told that werewolf bites are fatal to vampires, it's possibly not the smartest idea in the world to go poking around in search of a werewolf!
And once again, I have to say the show exceeded expectations in terms of plotting. I would normally yawn at the cliched introduction of werewolves in a vampire storyline. But I really love the way they've constrained the werewolf mythology on this show and that there aren't heaps of them running around.
Most amusing aspect of this episode for me was Caroline's new eye make-up. LOL! I love it when shows indicate characterisation shifts with make-up. Emo!Caroline is amusing, even if it totally detracts from her looks. I do feel sorry for Matt though--I kinda like that sweet, simple, good-hearted guy, and he has been ROYALLY screwed by having his sister vamped and killed and his girlfriend vamped and nearly kill/rape him. It totally worked for the overall plot though because having Caroline have to mindwipe her own boyfriend was another great way to explore the horribleness of vampiredom, and the fact that there isn't really any way to not be a hypocrite about it.
I also enjoyed the new Vanessa character, even though she was hopelessly naive (shooting, Damen? HA!) and foolishly put the moves on Alaric (fair enough, dude's hot). Damen and Elena on a roadtrip will never not be good, and the handling in this case was perfect. Damen tried to riff off their previous trip which helped build their friendship, but Elena was immovable. I really enjoyed their power struggle over this and the fact that Elena's characterisation remained so solid despite Damen's charms. Killing Jeremy is definitely one thing that Elena won't forgive. (Oh, Elena, but you were willing to presumptuously 'look after' your little bro by wiping his mind in the first place!) However, you could see Damen desperately trying to reach her in being willing to be honest about the killing. His honesty may not have worked on her, but it definitely worked on me. :) Also loved his impatience with Stefan and Elena PDA-ing in front of him.
Eee! Eee! This show is so much fun! \o/
ETA: Apologies for mis-spelling Damon! *facepalm* In my head, it's always Damen because of freece (even though the characters couldn't be more different).