When this series was announced the one thing that really came to mind was “maybe this will, at last, get me to read these books,” but no excitement. I didn’t know the showrunner Rolin Jones‘ name despite having seen shows he worked on (Weeds, United States of Tara, Life in Pieces, Perry Mason), and I don’t even think that I reacted when Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) and Sam Reid (The Riot Club, The Railway Man) were cast as the leads.
As I mentioned in the pilot review I have vague memories of the movie but it was the book that really got me excited for this show. Reading it I could see some of the potential changes this adaptation would bring, mainly embracing Louis and Lestat’s relationship instead of suggesting it and that alone was enough to make me check out the pilot that both surprised and quickly drew me in.
Premise: The series follows Louis de Pointe du Lac’s epic story of love, blood, and the perils of immortality, as told to the journalist Daniel Molloy. Chafing at the limitations of life as a black man in 1900’s New Orleans, Louis finds it impossible to resist the rakish Lestat De Lioncourt’s offer of the ultimate escape: joining him as his vampire companion.
Review: This show surprised me in so many ways during its run, from start to finish there was always an unexpected element or two that would pop up. But I think I’ll start this review with some of the changes from the original novel to this TV show, a lot of which were needed.
For this adaptation more than any other I’ve come across, I few things weirder than the people clamoring for a faithful adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel. For example Claudia’s age, as exciting and creepy, but cool, as it would have been to see a bloodthirsty five-year-old killing people twice her size, it would have been creepy – and not in a good way – later on as we’d see it this five-year-old discussing sexual desires or even trying to seduce Louis, it was uncomfortable enough in the book where it was suggested. Aging her up makes it better, and avoids having to look for a pre-teen actrice that could convincingly portray Claudia through the years, also it gives more weight to Claudia’s thoughts on finding love as she mentally grows while staying young. Not to mention the way she was introduced into their lives is brilliant because Louis’ guilt and sense of responsibility for what happened to her is far stronger here for me than it seemed in the novel.
I’ve already given my thoughts on Louis being a Creole black man in my pilot review, but him and Claudia both being black makes it easier to believe that they’d be a wider disconnect between their experiences and Lestat’s. It adds tension to that relationship when things between the three become dicey, and it makes sense for the setting.
Moving up the timeline during which the story is told is one of the better ideas this show has had, there’s more going on around them with a fascinating history to pull from, and it puts Louis and Claudia in an interesting position in society at the time. In addition, it stirs the show away from what was quite the iconic movie version. The second interview was also a great idea.
Storywise, this first season had depth, it grappled with tough subjects, and stared at the queer elephant in the room head-on. I loved the banter, the quippy dialogues cracked me up every time, it reminds me of some of the MM Romances I’ve read. It totally works. The passage of time was sometimes a bit too subtle since the main characters are vampires and don’t age, at times it was difficult to tell that X amount of time had passed if we weren’t told. The production, sets, costumes, and visual effects are amazing, this show looks great, it’s dark, gory, and immersive.
This show and Reid’s portrayal of Lestat made me like this character far more than I thought I could. He’s still toxic – or is he? – seems less like a grifter, like a leech taking advantage of Louis, and more dangerous it made the last episode of the season more impactful for me in the show. Anderson is Louis, he handled the race, sexuality, and the complicated roller coaster of emotions Louis is on like a maestro. He plays all those notes perfectly. Reid and Anderson have the right chemistry. As for Bailey Bass she deftly portrayed Claudia through the different stages of her life like a boss. Eric Bogosian is the Daniel that was needed, this cast is simply great.
They ended the first part of the season at maybe the best moment, but they’ve added quite the revelation that threw me for a loop. It made me wish I had read all those f’ing books before I even started this show. I highly recommend this gem of a show and can’t wait for season 2!
If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the link here