Despite all my good intentions, I got bitten by this show called The Originals. The pun, as all the fans of the show will understand, is, very obviously intended. After raising a supercilious brow at the crazy fandom for fictional vampires in the western popular culture ( Don’t blame me, I had accidentally watched a movie called Twilight some years ago), I pressed the play button on my computer screen gingerly, just to test the waters but before I knew, I was way in over my head.
It seems to me, that the need to come up with a show like The Originals was obvious when The mother show, The Vampire Diaries could not progress much on this part of the story after Elena Gilbert fell in love, with not one but two hot vampires. And let’s be honest, the Salvatore brothers left her too exhausted to write anything much of significance in her vampire diary after four seasons, let alone about other vampires, however original they were. So, It wasn’t a surprise that by the fifth season of TVD, the exhaustion rubbed on some of us viewers who started wondering if we would have been better off following Klaus, the Original Hybrid with that sexy british accent, back to New Orleans, a city he had helped build for the supernatural community centuries ago.
Whether it was the psychological layering , or the history concocted around their existence, the amount of detail that went behind the creation of the first “original” vampires on earth, was so staggering, that it was only a matter of time, before someone would think of producing it as an independent show. It’s proved out to be a worthy attempt in giving the makers a chance to steer away from the eternal teen romance in TVD (a good thing, as the teen angle has long limited the vampire fantasy genre to teenagers). The Originals boasts of a truly intelligent story & screenplay, with just the right blend of intrigue, mythology , fantasy & poesy that is sure to hook viewers irrespective of gender or age.
Now this show definitely has all the usual vampire stereotypes: The theme revolves around 3 insanely good looking vampires , who were turned into immortals by their powerful “witch” mother so that they could hold their own against the attacks of the werewolves some thousand years ago. Since then they have decided to stick together “always & forever” all through their eternal lives, come what may. They make a story so humanly passionate in trying to stick to this humongous goal of “forever” that you forget and forgive them for who they are. The clueless orphan souls inside the ruthless blood sucking Klaus, Elijah & Rebekah, get revealed time and again, through their perennial struggle to find some relevance in a fast changing world. They fight as much with their outside enemies as their inner demons.
The Originals, unlike most vampire dramas, has universal appeal because it’s more about the “baggage” that all of us carry through our lives. Somewhere, between all the fantastical elements & supernatural creatures, dealing with personal ghosts becomes the central theme. When Elijah the noble vampire of his word, hangs on to his humanity by clutching tight to his unconditional righteousness, his struggle with the baggage of past violence shows through. When the rogue brother, Klaus, the “bastard” child (born out of a union of his mother with a werewolf outside marriage) , deals with his inferiority complex by reveling in his untamed power, his struggle with the baggage of being unwanted, becomes blatantly obvious. When Rebekah finds herself stuck between her two brothers, despite her wish to tear away, you see her struggle with the baggage of unfulfilled love breaking through the tough exterior. These 3 people make for an intense drama, and the chemistry between the actors makes it all the more nail bitingly real.
Impeccable acting is supported by impeccable writing. The characters are bestowed with biting wit, sometimes cruel, sometimes heart warmingly funny. The dialogues are superbly timed. Silence has been given the importance that it is denied in most fictional dramas. The words that come out of the most “hateful” creatures, are sometimes downright poetic, giving birth to the paradox of the beauty of horror.
“The Originals” has so many original moments of creative genius, that you pity a vast section of the population, which might never give it a try , terming vampire fantasy as not their genre. Forgive the cliché, but it is much more than that. It is about moments capable of telling a thousand stories. It’s about the appeal of devious intelligence.. It’s about the agony of unfulfilled love. It’s about missed glances and lost opportunities. The element of emotion is so brilliantly exploited, that you lose control as a viewer and get sucked into the fictional world, believing yourself to be a part of it all. The tears are rare but the sentiments are charged. You see it in a stolen glance Klaus sends to Camille, or the silent appraisal Elijah gives to Hayley, or the sarcastic repartees Hayley throws at Elijah. You see it when Rebekah turns against her own brother in a weak moment of hope, in lust for normalcy. You see it when all of them are ready to kill each other to save that miracle baby in Hayley, Klaus’s unborn child, because it gives them hope for bringing salvation to their powerful yet tormented family.
Writing a show which is literally absurd & turning it into something mind boggling real, that’s where the achievement of The Originals lies. Even though set in an extremely fantastical premise with witches, werewolves and vampires, every scene is connected to next with impeccable logic . And then there is that perfect casting. The actors seem to have left their identities behind to literally become what they are playing. They have brought their own nuances to the screen: Joseph Morgan has given Klaus the devilish smile women can melt for , Daniel Gillies has given Elijah that husk in his voice which women will kill for, & Claire Holt has given that sassiness to Rebekah, that women would definitely die for. In a nutshell, television gets rare opportunities to defend itself against the timeless accusation of being an idiot box and “The Originals” is one of those rare opportunities.