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Doux Top Twenty! Number 11: The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries is number 11 in the Doux top twenty hitting shows.

When TVD began, I really didn’t like it. Thankfully, Josie Kafka hung in until it got good, and that encouraged me to give it a second try. I'm glad I did.

And here’s Josie to tell us about it.

Josie Kafka: The Vampire Diaries premiered in 2009 and wrapped up in 2017. That's most of the Obama administration and part of the Trump years; if the show were a person they'd be a freshman in high school. (A less deadly high school, I hope.)

Billie reviewed the pilot episode long before I decided to commit to episodic reviews, and her original line—that it was like “Muppet Babies with fangs”—is still one of my all-time favorite Billie quotes. The show started weak, a tedious teen drama riffing on the successes of Buffy, the Twilight books, and plenty of things I’ve since forgotten.

But the show quickly got good and then engrossing. The attractive cast, mile-a-minute pacing (I think I did some math in one review and determined that most scenes were under two minutes long), and willingness to focus on adults as well as teenagers kept me engaged, even enthusiastic, for many years. Elena and Damon, Stefan and Caroline, the always-amazing Bonnie, Alaric the sexy history teacher: those core characters, in all their permutations, still feel a bit like old friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I’m not sure I want to see them again, though. Billie’s pilot review, all those years ago, started with the line "I think I'm officially too old for this show." That's what I'd say now: post-MeToo, as I head into middle age, the old vampire/young girl vibe creeps me out a bit too much. During Covid lockdowns I watched the first two seasons of the new spinoff Legacies, which had updated cultural perspectives, but I think being in lockdown made me appreciate anything that distracted me for more than a few minutes, so I’m not sure I’d actually recommend it.

Looking back, I'm also struck by how much the show’s entire structure was tied into the traditional 22-episode season that so many shows just don't bother with anymore. Watching TVD, and writing about it, was a part of my life for many years. These days, it's the kind of thing I'd binge in a month and then forget about. I don't know if that's a good thing; I suspect it is not. I am nostalgic for the experience of the show more than the content.

We did get some great puns going for a while there, too.


  1. I did enjoy the show for years, although I felt that (again) it should have ended sooner. Although I understand why the suits keep prolonging hit shows past their best possible shelf life -- they want money.

    I also felt that the show lost some chemistry when Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder broke up. Or was that just me?

    Paul Wesley has moved on and is now Captain Kirk on Strange New Worlds. And he's a terrific Captain Kirk.

  2. I am currently watching season 2 of the Vampire Diaries. It's not a show would ever have touched without this site, as it sounded like a Twilight knockoff. And without Josie's assurance that it got better I certainly wouldn't have made it past the first episode or two. It reminded me a little of The 100 in that the first half-season was full of eyeroll-worthy teen romantic angst that obscured the show's strengths. But I am enjoying it at this point. It seems to have a well planned out plot and mythology where so many shows make it up as they go along.

    @Billie, I think almost all TV shows have a natural life of about 3-5 years (or maybe 4-6, given that many good ones take a year to find themselves). Five good years means 100 good episodes. That's an awful lot of quality television and I don't think very many shows have got there. I prefer shows to find a graceful way to end rather than gradually withering away.

    1. magritte, that's probably about right. Shows almost always seem to run too long or too short.

    2. Magritte, I'm really happy you're enjoying the show! I'll be curious to see which characters you like best. I had some strong opinions about a few characters that most fans likely wouldn't agree with.

  3. I loved this show at one point, but eventually I stopped before the final couple of seasons. I think by the time they finally got to the end-game I was tired of all the back and forth and plot antics. That being said, I might try to watch again at some point in the future. If only to finish the series.

  4. Oh, this show, good memories. I loved the first two seasons. I think season one, after those first six or seven episodes, delivered such a great arc story. I was in awe of the vampire mythology they were building. The vampires in the tomb were *so* interesting.

    Season two was also great, with Katherine and The Originals. But the final two episodes of that season disconnected me from the story. There was a character death that just didn't feel right to me, and then when the emotional center of the season finale wasn't that death, but Elena and Damon's romance, I checked out.

    I heard wonders about seasons three and four. My sister kept watching and always told me to go back to it. Who knows... maybe one day.


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