Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC
Serious question. What is this show even about? Where are we going with this? It’s hard because even though I don’t see any real rhyme or reason connecting one episode to another, I’m still having a lot of fun with it. Each episode has the dramatic pace of a soap opera but with a monster-of-the-week plot structure. It’s as if each episode was a season premiere.
“The ruthless pursuit of blood with all the demands of a child,” for example, would like us to forget everything we’ve learned about Louis’ character development and his emotional arc over the previous three episodes. Yesterday he wanted to break up with Lestat forever – but that was yesterday. Today, he’s ready to co-parent. What about his efforts to uplift his black community? His struggle to maintain a relationship with his family? No matter. His moral anguish over the necessity of human blood? From Claudia’s perspective at least, Daddy Lou settled for animal blood and a no-in-my-house rule for everyone.
And yet, I’m not too bothered by Louis’ apparent sudden personality change, in part because this episode is told almost entirely through Claudia’s diaries, and she wasn’t there for any of her previous traits or actions. , seemingly contradictory. The other reason I don’t mind the narrative and tonal inconsistency is that Claudia is an absolute delight.
After being rescued from the burning building by her dark angel (that’s Louis), Claudia is moments away from death as he brings her home and must convince her white angel (that’s Lestat) to do of her a vampire to save her life. Of course, she has absolutely no choice whether or not to live as a horror movie monster for all eternity, but that’s less important right now than Louis’ need for personal redemption. Luckily, when Claudia transforms and learns that her angels are actually demons, she takes a “when life gives you lemons” approach.
Guess we should at some point discuss Molloy, easily the least entertaining character on this show. You come from to know he’s insufferable at dinner parties because he thinks he’s making hilarious, incisive, cutting remarks when they’re really just dad jokes delivered with a wry drag. He gave some details about his life: He is in rehab. He has Parkinson’s disease. He has daughters. And he has an incredibly permissive boss type person who could be a publisher or an agent (it’s not clear) who seems to trust Molloy believing he has enough story for a book and that said book will be picked up by a publisher. I guess they don’t hire a fact checker.
But back to Claudia. Unlike Louis, who became paralyzed with inextinguishable shame from the moment he became a vampire, Claudia reacts to all aspects of vampire life – from mind reading, to the body incinerator in the backyard, to murder – with the same positive attitude. Little Miss Sunshine is as unbothered by the coffin room as she is by her two undead gay fathers, whom she calls Daddy Lou and Uncle Les. The only thing that really puts her off is the fact of her eternal pubescence.
Before we get to that, though, let’s have a little fun. The following scenes of domestic life in Claudia’s description are absurd comedy gold. This is The Addams Family. This is What we do in the shadows. It’s a little Dracula at the slightest suspicion of Carrie. It is certainly not Nosferatus – a very inaccurate film that makes our little family of vampires laugh heartily from the back of the room. Claudia has to play by her father’s rules like any 14 year old. No running around the house. No question of staying up all day writing in your diary. No cops to eat.
Like any young vampire girl, she is happy to choose her own coffin. Louis tells the undertaker that she’s so close to death, they’re just trying to get her used to the idea of going home to God – a lie Claudia blows away completely as she exuberantly bounces in her pink satin coffin and exclaiming how comfortable it is. When Louis’ mom dies, Claudia completely panics Grace at the wake, as she hasn’t gotten used to interacting with people yet. (I wouldn’t have brought Claudia and Lestat to my mom’s funeral, but Louis makes a lot of choices that confuse me.) As you might have already guessed, Lestat is the fun dad and Louis is the responsible dad. Papa Lou teaches Claudia important life lessons like, love is love and morality is one thing. Uncle Les teaches Claudia how to murder coitus on Lover’s Lane. Kids need both, you know?
Like any other growing teenager, Claudia has moments of anxiety and is very curious about sex. Unlike any other growing teenager, Claudia isn’t actually growing. Soon, although her body remains 14 years old, her mind is 19, and Claudia develops her first crush – sadly for a crush. They meet when Claudia hears a group of mean white girls laughing at her clothes, but before she can eat them, Charlie stops her from running down the road.
It’s important for parents to teach their children about sex, which is why I really blame Louis for what happens next. Charlie, who has veins like rivers running down his arms, takes Claudia out for ice cream. She climbs into the back of her car, as she had seen the people of Lover’s Lane do. Before you know it, the kisses turned into bites, and suddenly Charlie was dead.
Claudia has a few moments of genuine darkness that cut through what would have otherwise been a pretty comedic 40 minutes of television. At first, she makes a game of sticking her fingers in the sunlight, then hastily pulling them out. But in the end, she deliberately sticks her arm into the skylight just for the pain. The playful tone of his early diary entries gives way to a raging tirade addressed to his “fucking fancy, flower-covered, three-dollar paper diary.” And when she finds out she accidentally killed Charlie, she’s devastated. Uncle Les, also on occasion the cruel father, makes Claudia watch Charlie’s body being cremated. That’s why they don’t get close to humans.