September 25, 2022

Random Rant: I Caved and Watched Vampire Academy

Sisi Stringer as Rose Hathaway
Yes, I know I'm supposed to be finishing up my Bridgerton fic, but 2022 is shaping up to be the Year of Goth Shit. And speaking of Bridgerton....

Does anybody else remember back in the ancient days before social media whenever a new band was trying to appeal to the masses, they would all claim Nirvana and the Beatles were their inspiration? And then when we'd listen to their music, the first thing we'd notice was how they'd sound nothing like Nirvana or the Beatles?

When she was first trying to promote Vampire Academy, co-creator Julie Plec described it as "Bridgerton with vampires". And before you ask me why a show like Bridgerton would even need vampires, let me say I've seen five episodes so far and I'm not getting "Bridgerton". An admittedly diverse cast with royals and nobles does not automatically equal "Bridgerton". As much I respect Shondaland and watch everything they touch, they weren't the first to do it, and they won't be the last.

Mind you, I wasn't going to watch Vampire Academy anyway, for the simple fact I don't do Julie Plec, but I got sucked in because I'm a Sisi Stringer stan. Ever since she was cast as Mileena in Mortal Kombat (2021), I knew she was going to need all the support she could get.

And as Rose Hathaway, Stringer doesn't disappoint. We get to see her kick ass with her beautiful, thick body, and we get to hear her Aussie accent with her sensuous voice.

J. August Richards as Lord Victor Dashkov
And I genuinely do appreciate the casting of vampire television alumnus J. August Richards. I've been a fan of his for a good twenty years now, and while I did like that he was cast in the legendary show Angel, I never liked how his character was handled (until he became a lawyer in season 5, that is. That's when I felt he was finally allowed to shine).

But while Stringer and Richards get to play protagonists, guess who's one of their primary antagonists?

Anita-Joy Uwajeh as Tatiana Vogel

I'm not surprised though. And I haven't read the books, but book fans are already complaining about the differences, so I really have absolutely NO idea where they're going with this character, or if she'll even survive. But if I learned anything from my experience watching The Vampire Diaries, it's not to hold my breath.

So far, Vampire Academy has been completely predictable, so I won't bother breaking down all my issues with the show. It's nothing we haven't seen and criticized a thousand times before. I will ask this, though: can no one tell a story anymore?

Because casting issues aside, Vampire Academy is not giving me "story". It's giving me an attempt at story--wedged betwixt and between excessive fight scenes--but the dialogue is basic and whatever lore was established in the books is not translating to the screen.

We've got all these shows coming out now that are based on books, yet none of them are faithful to the storytelling quality which made the books popular in the first place. I vehemently despise this trend of finding a preexisting fandom and using just the name of the book series to lure in those fans (to be fair, Bridgerton is an exception; because I read two of the books, skimmed one, couldn't get through another one...and my final verdict is that the show is infinitely better). The only thing worse than lazy marketing is lazy writing.

The lack of storytelling deeply bothers me, not just as a viewer, but as a writer as well. I feel like a lot of TV writers aren't writers at all; they're people in need of a job who also hunger to be fame-adjacent. See, modern television is basically fanfiction brought to the screen. So if I'm the author of a book series (and I actually am), then I've done the work for you: I've built a whole world and laid the characters out. If you're a fellow "writer" who insists on doing your own thing with YEARS of my hard work, why is it so hard to come up with a decent story?

Even worse, we now have less episodes per season than we did with in olden times. Writers now need less filler episodes and have a better shot at keeping their writing tight. While that might be disappointing to viewers, shouldn't it make the writers' jobs easier? 

And though I won't go too deeply into it, Rings of Power is currently dealing with this issue. You're telling me Amazon had a whole billion dollars and the ENTIRE Tolkien universe at their disposal, yet they still couldn't churn out a decent story? They even voluntarily opted for a measly eight episodes, when the primary issue with having more episodes per season is money--what the fuck??? Can you imagine what HBO would've done with that billion dollars?

Last question on Vampire Academy: would it have killed them to hire a hot Russian to play Dimitri? Did we really need another actor with an English accent? Talk about missed opportunities.

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