Ghosts, vampires, and werewolves—oh, please

When it premiered, Being Human struck me as something a little too British for my taste. I have nothing against British television per say. I find IT Crowd downright hilarious, but I’m not so much a fan of the cheesy intergalactic drama of Dr. Who or Hugh Laurie dressed as a woman. Ich, no thanks.

I figured a show about ghosts, vampires, and werewolves would probably take itself too seriously just like every other show or movie about ghosts, vampires, and werewolves (except for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my all-time favorites).

By now you might be wondering, “What the Dalek does this have to do with books?”

The other night I was watching (and surprisingly enjoying) the first episode of Being Human on Netflix (all twenty-two available episodes are staying in my Instant Queue now), and I started thinking about how difficult it is for a generation so desensitized to those monster groups and more (especially zombies) to write fresh material about something that’s been done a million times.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve read Bram Stoker or Anne Rice. Everyone knows a vampire by those two little dots on the neck, their miserable fashion sense, and their love of London.

And speaking of London: werewolves. The only good werewolves are running around Europe, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t look sillier than a cat wearing pajamas.

And lastly, ghosts. Ghosts got lost somewhere along the way (err), but they’re still a big fascination thanks to reality shows like Ghost Hunters, movies like Paranormal Activity, and pretty much any Japanese horror movie out there. (I recently watched Ju-on, by the way, and it was much better than the American version, The Grudge. No offense Sarah Michelle Gellar, but you’re Buffy through and through.)

A show rarely mixes all three together, which is part of what makes Being Human so interesting. We get to see how these monsters interact as they walk all over each other’s territory.

But the real sell is in the title: “being human.” The main characters—the ghost, the werewolf, and vampire—don’t think of themselves as monsters. It’s everyone they have to deal with outside who is. And it’s that humanity, or lack of it, that has always made the fantastical a little more accessible—a little more human.

Basically writers are set for eternity. They can write about these popular monsters for as long as they please (or until they drop dead), but only if they can a) emphasize the human traits in the good characters and the inhuman ones in the bad and b) put them in interesting situations that challenge their feral nature.

What do you think? Is it time to retire the big bads, or is it impossible to get enough?

4 thoughts on “Ghosts, vampires, and werewolves—oh, please

  1. Aly Hughes

    I really enjoyed this post, you’re so right! I don’t know if people should retire the ‘big bads’, but I think the vampire/werewolf/supernatural is being way overdone these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of it, I even went and watched the latest Underworld on its opening day. But even I have a limit with things/topics/themes that I enjoy. Everything in moderation people! (Except, perhaps, books! ;) )

    Just last week I watched the Pilot episodes of both the English and American version of Being Human. I’m curious, have you watched both versions, and if you have, which did you like better? I’m undecided which one I liked better, but I’m still on the fence about both of them anyways. I guess that just means I’ll have to watch the second episodes!

    1. Stephanie

      Thanks for the comment, Aly!

      You’re on to something there. Maybe it’s easier to tolerate the overabundance of the supernatural when it’s in books rather than movies/TV. The latter tends to overdo it and rip off of one another, I think.

      I only watched the BBC version because it was available for free on Netflix. I didn’t even know there was another one! Good to know they’re both enjoyable. Looks like we’re both new to the series!

      1. Aly Hughes

        haha, I feel like books are generally more creative with plots/characters while tv shows and movies are more about the actors and special effects. Still enjoyable, but easier to spot the similarities.

        I actually watched both versions on Netflix, and again, that was just last week. I’m not sure how recently they put it up, but maybe check again and see if both the American and UK versions show up.

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