It is official, blog followers. By now, you’re aware that I’ve been steadily binge-watching my way through The Vampire Diaries. In a feat of human strength and perseverance, I can now say I am a graduate of TVD!
I use the term “graduate” very deliberately, of course, because to graduate from something suggests that an actual life accomplishment has been achieved. If I think of the time it took to watch all 171 episodes in the span of 53 days–approximately 120 hours, 7,182 minutes, or five consecutive days–in any other way, I’d be forced to ask myself some pretty tough life questions. Instead, I choose to continue with the idea that the experience has been educational.
As such, my first post in almost two months (I’m sorry!) will be to impart the wisdom I have gained from one of our country’s finest cinematic triumphs. At the very least, I’ll share some of the things it made me learn about myself.
What I Learned from The Vampire Diaries
1. I know more about vampire lore than I ever thought possible.
See, this isn’t my first foray into vampire studies. I’ve done my fair share of reading about and watching vampires in all their silver screen glory. Of course, each piece of vampire literature has its own take, making for a pretty well-rounded vampire education.
For example, some vampires are to be feared (Dracula, Interview with a Vampire, or I Am Legend) while others are of the sexier and less frightening variety (The Vampire Diaries or, shudder, Twilight).
Some vampires live in a world where their existence is common knowledge (True Blood) while most others dwell in secrecy and shadows. Can they survive–even if begrudgingly so–on animal blood? Do they require sleep? Can they go into the sun or are they confined to dark places? Are they able to eat human food or, more unconventionally, procreate? The list of potential vampire qualities is nuanced and practically endless. In talking to people about my obsession with TVD, I’ve come to realize that I can explain, in greater detail than I’d care to admit, which universe has which kind of vampire and how their differences affect their quality of life and level of human interaction.
2. If I were 164 years old, I sure as hell wouldn’t spend my time courting a 17-year-old high school student in Virginia (or anywhere else for that matter).
I know, I know. Stefan already traveled the world, lived his best life, and came home again after a long time away when he happened upon a beautiful teenager who reminded him of a long-lost love. Of course he had to stick around to learn more about her. But really, willingly going to high school again? Are you kidding me?! I can think of at least 1,757 things I’d rather do first, even if it meant waiting for the “love of my life” to graduate. College, at least, would be a much more fulfilling way to pass eternity.
This also begs the question: wouldn’t someone so old be more intellectually attracted to older women, women who have much more wisdom and life experience than a teenager? I get that he has been 17 for 147 years (at least in the above picture; by the end it would have been 153), but are those 17-year-old hormones still so powerful that he is more sexually enticed by a fellow 17-year-old than someone more mature? Perhaps, but if I were such an old vampire, I like to think I’d be drawn to someone a little more in the middle. But then there’s the whole human-ages-while-vampire-doesn’t conundrum. Hm. I guess I’ll never know.
3. High school is still not accurately portrayed on TV.
For one, what high school has such frequent and elaborate dances? Insane social calendar implications aside, can you imagine any high school kid having the budget for all of these costumes and gowns? Below is just a sampling of all their formal events. There would be too many to even show here. Oh, and don’t tell me they’re just rentals. These events usually end in bloodshed. No one in their right mind would return the security deposit on a blood-soaked dress.
[Sources: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]
Or how about the fact that these high school kids can have sleepovers with their significant others and no one seems to care? I do realize that Elena’s parents are deceased and her guardian is a young and someone lax aunt. Still, I don’t know a single person who was allowed to conduct their life this way when they were in high school.
[Source: Instagram @tvd_obsession]
And if you thought a regular old sleepover was absurd, imagine spending a romantic weekend together at your family’s cabin! What?!
Most importantly, these kids are barely in school with all their vampire-related goings on: conducting spells, burying classmates, learning how to use a crossbow, taking lengthy trips across country with their boyfriend’s brother (okay just one girl; see sleepover comments above), traveling to a remote island to dig through a crypt, learning you’re a doppelganger (don’t even ask), being turned into a vampire, losing your humanity. That’s just scratching the surface. It’s a wonder any educational system would grant diplomas to such absentee students. I mean, did they ever even learn the struggle of deciding where to sit at lunch or having a too-heavy backpack weigh you down between classes? Do they even know what a textbook is?!
4. My life is way more mundane than life in a TV serial.
I’m not a supernatural creature. To my knowledge, my city isn’t overrun with supernatural creatures (though depending on what time I’m on the Red Line, I’d say that’s debatable). I–knock on wood–haven’t been around many dead bodies, I haven’t had much interaction with law enforcement, and I haven’t had nearly the amount of relationship drama that these folks have. It’s a sign of privilege, I guess, to go along living my peaceful little life and getting my fill of drama through a TV screen. But when I think of the alternative, I’m pretty grateful for it.
5. I can never say I don’t have enough time for something ever again.
You heard me before. I watched the equivalent of five straight days of TV in the span of 53. And that’s just counting the time I spent on TVD. Papa Bear and I are definitely what I’d call “TV people,” so it’s unfortunately not as if tube time was limited to vampires. If nothing else, this calculation made me realize that if something is important enough to me, I’ll make time for it. In this case, “important” meant lounging around and burning brain cells, but I’ve come to terms with it and have learned to accept who I am. Don’t worry, I mostly watched the show while Baby Bear was sleeping, so chances are good he never felt neglected.
6. I can fangirl like the best of them.
I’ve become so entrenched in the TVD universe that I now dream about it and have found myself thinking about it at the strangest times (like at the opera, for example). I follow many of the actors on Instagram in addition to countless fan accounts (I’m honestly too afraid to count). I’ve spent way more time than a respectable 29-year-old should going down Instagram wormholes (#stelena and #delena are my personal favorite TVD hashtags). I’ve rewatched some of my favorite scenes more than twice. I cried during the series finale even though I was left disappointed by it. I even strongly considered going to the recent TVD convention in Chicago. I am, for lack of a better term, a total fangirl.
7. There is real value in a guiltless guilty pleasure.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from this whole shebang is that having a “guilty pleasure” can actually be really good for you. There is a lot of crazy stuff happening in the world today–“crazy stuff” being a rather lighthearted euphemism. I think we’d all benefit from stepping away from it from time to time and allowing ourselves to be wholeheartedly entertained by something like The Vampire Diaries. My binge experience made me realize that there is no shame in mindlessly escaping to a fantasy world of juicy and wildly dramatic tales of lust, love, and betrayal. Quite the opposite, actually; watching the show left me feeling more relaxed, sane, and centered than before.
It also doesn’t hurt when the characters look like this.
You know, there is a Vampire Diaries spinoff…