Friends, excuse me while I geek out on a combination of factors. I’m a writer by training, did you know that? (probably not. To call my style “long-winded and excessive” would be an understatement. I actually get hate mail about a book review I wrote on goodreads!) so it’s ingrained in me to want to respond to something I see by writing about it.
Also, I’m a huge nerd. I’m sure you noticed that much at least. So indulge me while I grapple with my response to last week’s “vampire diaries” and the huge “buffy the vampire slayer” comparison that has been rumbling around my head.
Reading the comments on a bunch of blogs and recaps on this show has been an education, of sorts. People take it very personally! I mentioned earlier this year (late last year), while modeling my killer mccall jean jacket, that I had a lot of TVD love. But that love had been fading, because the show was 1) pulling an angelus on us, one I deemed unworthy of the original and 2) I feel like it’s fallen victim to its own pacing. Even more so than downton (one of the few criticisms of downton I actually can get on board with).
So anyway, we have a love triangle. Check. Vampire loves girl. Girl loves vampire. Vampire brother ALSO loves girl. And she sort of likes him but mostly loves the attention. This season kicked off with the “good” vampire doing unspeakable evil and (to put it in buffy-speak) losing his soul, ultimately sending the girl right into the arms of the “bad” vampire brother. In the interim, a lot of potentially fascinating emotional plotlines were sacrificed in the name of this show’s lightning-fast pacing. I lost interest.
Moving into this phase of season 3, the obvious comparison between Stefan and damon is angel vs. spike. I think it’s a wonderful comparison—it sets out a lot of fascinating parameters to think about as a watcher. Stefan, like angel, loves Elena but is constantly battling against himself and what he deems his nature. He knows that their relationship is futile, he can’t help himself, he succumbs, he pulls back—played with increasing depth by Paul Welsley, who started off this show as absolutely the weak link.
Damon is more like spike. Impulsive. Less interested in a moral event horizon. Drawn in against his own wishes by his weird desire for the girl. And always about “protecting “ her—which often turns into trying to force her to do what he thinks is best. No respect—at all—for her own agency.
Incidentally—this is why I hate twilight. Bella has no agency. She exists only as an object of desire. She literally has no life outside of her all-consuming desire for Edward. (and this is a model for young girls to read about? Pass the buffy DVDs, please!)
Stefan, like Angel, loves the girl and has that love returned. But what is more important to me as a viewer, and what makes their relationship more interesting (even if it is the conventional choice) is that Stefan finds ways to respect Elena’s agency. She is not always a damsel in need of saving. She’s no Buffy, but she has found the strength within herself to be a worthwhile companion.
Damon, like Spike, loves the girl and…sort of has that love returned. I’ve always interpreted Season 6 of Buffy as Buffy initially working out her own issues on Spike, but ultimately breaking it off because she doesn’t want to hurt herself—and she doesn’t want to hurt him. Spike (and Damon) were there for our heroines at times of great need and provided vital emotional support. I think Elena respects that about Damon. She loves that about him. But ultimately Damon’s impulsiveness and lack of respect for her agency will always get in the way. (Not Buffy 6×19 “Seeing Red” style, with attempted rape in the bathroom, but there are arguments to be made about the times that Damon has forced Elena to drink his blood and how that can compare…)
So we get a scene like in this past week’s episode of TVD, where Damon professes himself to Elena, she lies to him (and to herself) about his importance to her, and meanwhile anvils are dropping that 1) she still really prefers Stefan and 2) that feeling is still returned. And the fans go WILD. On both sides of the triangle! But for me, it’s about who has greater respect for the heroine’s choices.
I started watching this show because I couldn’t help myself. Twilight on Dawson’s Creek? Yes, please! I kept watching because Stefan and Elena matured into an actual, functioning relationship and because Ian Somerholder was doing some amazing work finding new borders between drama and camp and the evil-googly-eye roll every week. Ian’s real-life chemistry with Nina Dobrev may make them hotter on screen, but I’ll always be a Stefen-Elena ‘shipper.
Oh, and look at the pretty wardrobe from this past week. (see? Clothes! This is still a sewing blog!)