I’m staying current with The Vampire Diaries these days, which this season has traded in a “Big Bad” villain for a medium size villain, in the form of a local vampire hunter who somehow manages to get the drop on everyone despite an actual lack of superpowers.
Rather, the main plotline of the season so far is getting Damon and Bonnie back from the dead. Bonnie helped Damon escape purgatory while she remains trapped there with a witch serial killer (for now), and Damon’s come home to realize a lot of things have changed. Namely, the show is now enduring a very, very stupid plotline where Elena went to super-vampire Alaric to compel her to forget she ever loved Damon, Eternal Sunshine style, because she couldn’t deal with her grief.
Now, even with Damon back, brainwashed Elena was pretty sure she didn’t want the feelings back of loving someone she thought was a monster, but at the last moment she changed her mind. Unfortunately, at that point, Alaric had been killed, brought back to life, and now has lost all his super vampire powers. Now no one can restore Elena’s memories save the Originals who are all partying and New Orleans and can almost never be bothered to stop by for crossovers. This is all leading into the inevitable truth that Elena will have to fall in love with Damon all over again.
In my eyes, this is a prime example of how the love stories in The Vampire Diaries are lacking, even if that’s what a great deal of the audience tunes in for. Elena loves Stephan, then Elena loves Damon almost because it seemed like fans voted on it. Caroline loves Tyler and Klaus and now maybe Stephan. Jeremy loves Bonnie. Katherine loves Stephan. Alaric loves everyone who dies. And so on.
But rather, I think the show works because its best relationships aren’t its romantic ones, it’s because of its friendships, which is something you wouldn’t quite expect out of a show like this.
In a way it reminds me a little bit of one of my favorite shows of all time, The OC, which yes, was full of loves stories, Ryan loves Marissa, Seth loves Summer, but the central relationship of the show was the friendship between Ryan and Seth. If that show aired these days it would be called a “bromance,” but I think that’s a very stupid word that downplays the importance of same-sex friendships in both the fictional and real worlds.
While love stories are very much the main plotlines of the Vampire Diaries at any given time, the show has done an expert job with the concept of friendship, namely between Damon and Alaric, then Damon and Enzo, and then after that, Damon and both of them. The same is true for a lesser extent to the trio of Caroline, Bonnie and Elena, but Bonnie is dead like 90% of the time on the show, Carolyn is playing clean-up crew with everyone and Elena is off in her own little love world where the sun and moon revolve around her. Rather, it’s the guys who seem to have more authentic friendships.
The Damon and Alaric relationship has so far created some of the most emotionally powerful moments of the show, where Damon genuinely mourns the fact that his friend is going to die, and then does die, and he drinks alone at his grave. That was a heartbreaking chain of events, and it’s been one of the show’s best decisions to finally flip the resurrection switch on Alaric to bring that relationship back to life again.
Similarly, there are many who dislike Enzo, as the character is meant to be kind of an a-hole, but the only person he seems to truly care about is Damon, whom he spent years locked up. When Damon died, Enzo did more to try and find him than anyone, and nearly everything he does seems to be for Damon. He’s done some terrible things which has caused Damon to essentially “betray” him on numerous occasions, and you shouldn’t feel bad for him, but you do because of clearly how much he cares for Damon, and just wants to be buddies like old times. I’m very curious to see what happens now that Alaric and Enzo and Damon are all now alive at the same time, and that should be an interesting dynamic.
The Vampire Diaries may be a love story, but in my mind, that’s not where to find its best relationships. Friendship is underrated, and can make for dramatically heavy moments just like star-crossed love.
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