Am I going to watch season one of the new Interview with the Vampire TV Series a 3rd time? This is the question I’m trying to answer in between parenting, meetings, classes and my “real” writing projects. I’m sure the conceptions of Blackness in this new version deserve my critical attention. I mean, I have critiques. Anything beckoning me a 3rd time means I love it enough to critique it, right? Am I going to watch it a 3rd time to create a bank of race, class and gender lesson plans on this single season of a new tv show? Who am I kidding? I’m going to watch it a 3rd time. I know this. The real question I have been dealing with is why am I going to watch it a 3rd time?
Because Anne Rice’s source material was so good? Because Louis was always Creole and now he’s Black and Creole, behbeh? Sure. I read Interview and The Vampire Lestat years ago. I actually remember very little about the novels except that they were quick and engrossing reads, that the prose was operatic, and that they solidified my obsession with 20th century vampire literature written from the points of view of the vampires. And, of course, like anyone who was grown and tryna be sexy in the 90s, I have seen the original film with its screenplay written by Rice many many times. Kirsten Dunst taking scissors to her hair was an iconic moment for a person like me. The way I wanted to keep that girl’s hair from growing back – sheesh. Yes. The source material is amazing. But truthfully, I wasn’t super excited about another adaptation. I have seen others that left me perplexed at best but often yawning and remembering that time is short. We should spend it on what we love when we get to decide. This adaptation is glorious.
Why am I going to watch it a 3rd time? Because the writers (watch with captions) are giving me liiiiiiife and the actors are taking folks to schoooooool?! Because the design – set, costume, lighting, all of it – makes me have to remember what year and place I live in when I pull myself away? Because afterward I want to ask the directors how in the world they were able to look at this unbelievable amount of talent and then decide what the audience needed to experience? Yes. All this. From the Lestat street strut walk to the Lestat let them eat cake walk. From the Louis empowering Bricks to the Louis brooding brow and the Louis so in love. From the Claudia roll bounce showing me the DNA of bounce music all up and through to the Claudia chess QUEEN. From the coffins to the curtains. From Dubai to San Francisco. From Grace’s heavy oval “no” to Daniel’s I’m-not-buying-it “yeah.” Hell yeah! The show is all around magnificent. No crumbs…ahem…drops left. Everybody eats…ahem…drinks.
Why am I going to watch it a 3rd time? Because it hits me different…like in the gut different? It hits me deep. When Louis and Lestat look at each other in that timeless dance of adoration and pain, I am hit. I know the looks of love doom, no matter how manufactured, are looks that some of us take to little cemeteries we have created in our hearts. Places where a love long ago died a tragic death and requires a periodic grave tending. This show is so important to me in that regard because of its queerness. Because this was always queer and it wanted to stop hiding. Louis’ line in the 1994 screenplay about being at odds with everything around him is a full-on bell hooks and José Esteban Muñoz moment. This show takes that moment and affirms it. I think I’m feeling compelled to watch a 3rd time because when I was a queer young woman watching the film in 1994 and dealing with my own ride of a queer relationship with a woman who had secrets – secret former lives, secret loves, secret power dynamics, I didn’t get to say that out loud. The same way the movie didn’t get to say it out loud. And now I do. Now Louis does.
I realize that this post means different things to different people. I wish I had it in me to do the whole “sorry you didn’t know” thing for the folks who will be pulling their jaws off the floor now. For people who have known me forever, yeah some didn’t know. I don’t tell my whole life to everyone. No one does. Perhaps we are all a bit Lestat in this way. The show does a beautiful job of navigating these lines of memory, things of which we do not speak, and things that are just “a lot.” These days, I’m living a more unburdened life and I hope other people are too.
No burdens of thinking about what people will say, no academic worry about how the narratives of queer identity and vampirism may need to be sanitized for a judging closeting society. No consciously keeping my own pain distant from the one in the show for fear that I might actually allow myself to recall that I was hurt when my girlfriend and I had to part ways because there was too much between us that increased not in wonder but devastation. This time I get to connect. I get to remember a rough relationship where being queer and Black rolling with a white person was a time of incredible adoration and incredible pain and those things remain. Buried though they may be, they are undead. This time I get to be thankful for my own true love who works so hard to heal all of the Lestat wounds on me. Who, like Armand, may wish I didn’t share my story in ways that may bring me harm but will absolutely stand by and do the cloud gift thing as needed. This time I get to see the phantoms of my former self in this story and let the art see me.
Why am I going to watch it a 3rd time? Because I’m amazed and glad this beautiful, complex, horror of a story is here. The horror of loving in human capacity and the beauty of it are a fulfilling sharp relief to the monstrosity of vampirism. We love using the gothic to do the highlighting but the real crying and gasping is over human capacity for cruelty and this show gives me room to feel that. It’s a crying that clears the way for celebration of real love on the horizon. I’m going to watch a 3rd time because I’m grateful to every person who worked on this show. And, for sure, I’m going to watch because I need something to do while I wait for Armand to really dazzle me in Season 2!
Psst. Feel free to come back for that bank of lesson plans but in the meantime, check out hooks, Muñoz and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’ The Dark Fantastic for prep.