Why 'The Vampire Diaries' was so much more than a trope for me
'The Vampire Diaries' came at a time when this fantasy trope was everywhere—but the escapism is still live and kicking for one writer
With all of the non-stop, world-shifting change of the past few years—you know, global pandemics, climate change, political strife, the usual—it's no shock that we've all been seeking solace in nostalgia lately, looking back to those simple days of the nineties and noughties when the biggest drama in your life was you not being placed in the same homeroom as your crush, or your BFF loving the same member of NSYNC as you. And it's not just millennials who seek nostalgia because they want to re-live the simpler times, but research shows that Gen-Z does it, too, because they wish they'd lived through those simpler times. Our School Daze series is doing just that: each day, an editor will wax nostalgic about the one high school show that shaped their teenagehood then and acts as a televisual comfort food now.
While most millennials would cite the likes of Friends, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill or Dawson’s Creek as their go-to nostalgic series, I am on that rare Millennial/Gen-Z cusp that ushered in a new genre of fantasy romance—the infamous 2008-2010 vampire boyfriend trope.
Yep, born in 1996, my adolescence struck right when vampires and werewolves were at their peak. Every show and movie was seemingly trying to get a piece of that Twilight action and I must admit, I was lapping it all up. From my life-size Taylor Lautner poster to my Team Edward T-shirt (contradictory memorabilia I know, but what can I say—I loved them both), I was obsessed. This is why, one fateful day when I got hold of the TV remote, all alone in the living room (a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence in my home) and stumbled across a show called The Vampire Diaries, my little teenage heart and mind were blown.
The moment I saw the Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon, the show had me hook, line and sinker. I’d love to say there was something a bit less superficial that first attracted me to the show, but hey, I was 14 and a real sucker for boys with floppy hair.
And while my love affair with the vampire/romance genre was fleeting—and soon turned to me denying I’d ever even read a Twilight book by the time I’d hit 16, my love for TVD never wavered. In fact, now in my mid-twenties, I can barely sit through half the fantasy content whose likenesses were once plastered across my childhood bedroom—but eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries? Sign me the hell up.
It’s a show that to this day, I must enjoy alone and still pause whenever someone walks into the room—daring to interrupt an electric tension-filled moment between Damon and Elena. During my first watch-through, it was my mom, now on my millionth rewatch, it’s my boyfriend—who has now learned (at last) not to make any kind of jokey dig at TVD.
So what is it about the moody, love triangle-centered and fantasy-filled show that keeps me coming back for more? Well, the answer is three-fold; the escapism, the love stories and thirdly, Damon Salvatore.
The show has everything from dramatic story arcs about ancient vampires and their bloodlines (I’m a bit of a history nerd, so those elements get a yes from me) to romantic moments that just make you want to put your head in your hands and swing your legs.
And don’t get me started about our main gaggle of protagonists—from Bonnie, with her mystic witchy powers to Caroline, who in herself has some of the best character development in the whole series—the show gave the world some of the most iconic TV characters to date. Who knew becoming a vampire could make you a way better person?
The escapism of this show was one of the main sellers for me. In one episode alone, you’ll meet a new villain or creature, before experiencing a blush-inducing moment between Elena and one of the Salvatores—all the while having the threat of mortal danger looming over all your favorite characters. So, for a teen battling with anxiety, it was a very welcome and much-needed distraction that let me totally disassociate from my inner monologue—at least for an hour or two.
Something else I've noticed is that TVD gave me a real thing for seeing my favorite characters go through emotional turmoil and near-death experiences—which is probably why as an adult, I love Grey’s Anatomy so much. I can’t even count how many near-misses Elena, Stefan, and Damon encounter in just one season, it’s a real rollercoaster and I LIVE for it. In fact, I can also safely say it’s ruined a lot of other chick flick-esque shows for me—because where are the stakes, metaphorical and wooden?!
Now, moving onto perhaps the most important reason why I will always carry a torch for TVD…my all-consuming teen crush on Damon Salvatore.
From the moment I first saw Star Wars’ Anakin Skywalker, I was hooked on the anti-hero/tortured bad-guy trope and Damon really solidified this for me.
His slow burn to becoming Elena’s main love interest had me weak and around that time, my Tumblr blog (how’s that for nostalgia?) was basically a Damon fan page. It's by far one of my favorite love stories and I adore that it diverts from the romantic norm—because when does the secondary member of the fictional love triangle ever actually get the girl?
I can remember watching that motel kiss scene in season three for the first time, I had my hands over my mouth throughout and rewound it at least three times before I could regain composure and carry on with my life. Not to mention how much I cried at the scene where he confessed his love for her, only to then make her forget the whole thing.
He was my fictional first love, who of course gave me impossibly high expectations for my own high school romances because alas, hunky vampire boys are not a thing. But to this day I still get those cutesy butterflies in my tummy when I see him onscreen—which is what nostalgic TV is all about, right?
So, now I’ve overshared my love for this stupid, wonderful story, let me sum up why—if you’re looking for a long-haul series to binge—you should consider TVD...
It’s one of those shows that can make you feel whatever you need to feel that day, whether you want a full-blown distraction from life, you need a cry or you just want to look after your inner child with all that teen vampirey goodness.
The best way I can describe it is a late, rainy Saturday afternoon—when you’re home alone with no plans, just your favorite chocolate bar and snuggliest best pajamas. That’s how I would watch it when I was younger and it’s a ritual I think I’ll continue for the rest of my life.
Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team and has recently earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on beauty, trends, fashion, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life. She also tests and reviews beauty and skincare products and tries out the latest TikTok hacks for My Imperfect Life.
Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.
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