Ever since Legacies finished its run on The CW, I've been thinking a lot about what I would like to see next from the Vampire Diaries universe. The Vampire Diaries and its two spin-offs, The Originals and Legacies, ran for a cumulative seventeen seasons on the CW, beating even Supernatural in terms of longevity. (Of course, the upcoming Supernatural prequel series may end up redressing the balance.) The CW seems to be done with this world for now — but there's already talk of another show in this universe, and I'm assuming HBO Max could eventually provide a home for more vampirrific content.
The popularity of these shows makes another outing feel almost inevitable, the only question being how soon. So what would I personally like to see from this universe?
I've been sort of noodling on this question, thinking a lot about corners of the TVD franchise that never fully got explored. There's the world of vampire hunters (though a show about hunters could end up being a little too similar to Supernatural or maybe First Kill, which I haven't watched yet.) It's been a long time since we've seen a group like TVD's "The Travelers," who use magic in a way that is drastically different from what we see from the witches in these shows. I don't think I'm the first person to say this, but I would love to see a show about Klaus's sister Freya and her partner Keelin raising a child together. I also would happily watch a hundred episodes of Marcel doing pretty much anything.
But when I really think about what I want from another TVD sequel/spin off, one thing comes to mind: humans.
The Vampire Diaries and The Originals both followed a similar trajectory to most science fiction or fantasy series: early on, they introduced a supporting cast that combined some non-human characters with a number of humans, and the human characters were able to give us a more grounded perspective on everything that was going on. In TVD, we start out by meeting Elena, her brother Jeremy, and her friends and assorted high-school classmates. In The Originals, Camille is a major character for the first few seasons, and her uncle is a leader of The "human faction," which represents the interests of non-supernatural people in New Orleans, alongside vampires, witches, and werewolves.
Of course, this doesn't last — because it never does, in stories about the fantastical. Eventually — spoiler alert — Elena becomes a vampire, and so do a bunch of other characters, except for the ones who become witches or werewolves. Camille in The Originals also becomes a vampire, and the other human characters die off or reveal some supernatural secrets of their own.
Legacies takes a different approach, installing Alaric as pretty much the only human character in the series, and making him bear the brunt of all of the show's questions about the place of supernatural beings in the human world. (I guess there's also Ethan, though he, too, does not stay human.)
So I would like to see a TVD spinoff that, by design, includes a large human presence. For one thing, this would make any new show more watchable to people who haven't already mainlined seventeen seasons of television, by giving us characters who don't already know all of the lore and need to learn about it. But that's not the main reason — I think as a general rule, the fantastical is often better when it is anchored to the mundane, and the TVD universe spawns serious suspension of disbelief issues that only get harder to deal with, the longer we don't see what all of this looks like from the outside. Every one of those seventeen seasons seemed to be determined to go bigger, weirder and zanier than the last, to the point where you wonder how anybody is still buying The "animal attacks" story that's routinely spread around Mystic Falls.
Seriously, how do you go through your life in this universe as a human, without feeling reality starting to crumble around you? Especially given the casual way that all the vampire characters tend to use compulsion (the shows' ever-present form of mind control), there must be a ton of humans wandering around with false and probably conflicting memories.
Which brings me to another major reason why I would like to see a TVD spin-off foreground some — and I have to emphasize some — human characters. The heroes of these shows frequently exhibit a disregard for human life that races past amoral and careens into pure evil. We're constantly encouraged to root for serial killers, who leave a towering body count and only sometimes feel any remorse about it. This is a staple of the genre, and I don't want to suck the fun out of anything. But I do find myself craving a human perspective on all of this, preferably the perspective of someone who starts out not actually being aware of the supernatural.
Actually, that reminds me of another thing that I wish TVD could go back and explore in more detail. In season seven of TVD, the town of Mystic Falls gets taken over by some evil Heretics (vampire witches), who basically turn it into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Time passes, and the town returns to normal and nobody seems any the wiser. I would love a show in which this happens to another town: like maybe some evil supernaturals move in and just take over everything, and ordinary people in the town have to make sense of it the best they can while dealing with constant mind wipes and inexplicable dead bodies.
And here, it occurs to me that we've never really gotten much chance to see compulsion from the point of view of the victim. It would actually be super interesting if a plucky human is on the path to investigating mysterious goings on in their town, and then they run into a pasty-faced stranger whose eyes do something weird. The screen goes dark, and we see that character wake up confused, with all of their questions suddenly forgotten.
Or if all that sounds too dark and dystopian, I'd also love a show about a society of humans who try to keep the peace in the supernatural world and protect other humans from being eaten whole.
I've been a huge fan of these shows, almost from the beginning. There's no question that whatever the next show is about, I'll be watching, rewatching and probably consuming supercuts on YouTube. But I do think it would be cool to see a different corner of the universe, and meet some brand new characters alongside a few returning faves. (Just please, more Kaleb and Cleo!!!)
Laser from the Doubleclicks has co-written and produced a brand new stage musical called Teaching a Robot to Love. Depending on when you read this, you may be able to buy tickets to watch a video recording of their performance at the Hollywood Fringe — but you can definitely buy the soundtrack album! It's on Bandcamp and there are also tons of other links to buy it via the Doubleclicks' website. This musical is just as enchanting as you'd expect: the story of a group of nerds who create an artificial consciousness to help a tech entrepreneur sell more stuff to people, only to find that the A.I. wants to smash capitalism instead. The songs are gloriously catchy and fun, and the story is thrilling, and it's been on constant rotation lately.
ICYMI I helped to create a trans superhero for Marvel Comics. Escapade and her friends make their debut in Marvel Voices: Pride 2022 #1, and you can pick it up wherever you buy comics!
Also, I have published a TON of books lately! There's my YA trilogy: Victories Greater Than Death is out in paperback now, and the sequel, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, is out in hardcover. If you like artists and nerds and creative people (who are mostly majorly queer) saving the galaxy, these books might be your cup of tea. Also, I have a short story collection called Even Greater Mistakes, which ranges from very silly comedy to dark intensity. Finally, I have book of advice on writing yourself out of hard, scary times called Never Say You Can't Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times By Making Up Stories. Please buy my books, so my cat can keep having cans of Fancy Feast.
This Saturday (July 9) at 7:30 PT, I'm hosting another Writers With Drinks, featuring Amy Schneider, Nina LaCour, Elsa Sjunneson, Claire Light/Jadie Jang and Jordan Ellenberg. It's $5 to $20 sliding scale at the Make Out Room on 22nd St. It's gonna be radical!
Oh look, here are some book covers! Can you believe all of these books came out within the same twelve-month span?