Thursday, July 28, 2011

Being Human the BBC version provided a great deal of entertainment these last two semesters. True there is now an American version of the same show. I have never seen it. I am sure it is good—but I’m just saying when I have a choice and one actor playing the lead has an Irish accent I tend to choose that option.
The premise is simple—four undead friends try to live as humanly as possible. They try to keep their conditions under control and in the process their stories beg the questions “what is it to be human?” After all Mitchell is a vampire, his best friend George is a werewolf, and Annie is a ghost. This show forces its audience to consider that perhaps humanity isn’t limited to species; but, is instead based on character. However this theme is woven in artfully, it supports the story, but does not indulge in preaching.

Mitchell is a vampire who with a shady—no horrific—history. But he is not off blood and trying to get his friends to follow suit. He is constantly at odds because he wants to remain in touch with the vampire community. These people are his friends and the only ones who truly understand his condition. They are not bad people. But they are killers. Just like he was, and occasionally still is. Despite all his faults he has to believe that he has the ability to overcome his hunger. He wants to be defined by who he is and not his impulses.

George is a werewolf, a nerd, religious, a good cook and incredibly socially awkward. However he is the most supportive member of the cast. His principles are solid and his beliefs have not altered because of his condition. When Mitchell does not trust the world George does not trust himself. He is the backbone of the crew. His kind nature means that he is often taken advantage of by both his friends and his enemies.

Annie is ghost who has been all alone until she meets up with Mitchell and George. She is kind and fun. But unlike the other characters she is too trusting and too forgiving. Because of these traits she is dead. Her character develops from self conscious and desperate to please to ambitious and uncompromising.

Nina may just be my personal favorite. She has been the victim of a series of painful relationships. She was abused by her parents and at least one previous partner. She is angry and unforgiving. But then she meets George who is kind, funny and would do anything for her. She finds life is better with him. But then he is a werewolf. Everything she believed before is true; someone like him was too good to be true. So, does she risk everything again and go for the man she loves or protect herself. (She doesn't have quite as big a part so she doesn't get a cool promo pic.)

This story is more effective given the demographic of the characters. They are all in their early twenties. Or at least were in their early twenties before they became ageless and technically life-less. But the similarities between the average undead and the average young adult are quiet striking.
1. The struggle to find a significant other who understands you.
2. Parents—getting them let go
3. Ex- partners
4. Old friends with bad habits—it’s a tough lesson but you’re not saving them. They’re damning you.
The list could go on.
The writing is good—as with any TV script there are the occasional holes, but not enough to distract from the strengths of the story. The acting is excellent. The characters who are supposed to be in love have great chemistry and the ones at conflict with one another have enough emotion to back up their motives that nothing feels forced.
My last two points are personal. Firstly the language and the life styles of this series are for mature audiences only. Secondly we have been seeing the family picked apart a great deal in so much of our entertainment choices. I was so grateful to see that in this series the desire to have children and to be a parent was strong motivation to these characters. Some people might say that because the couple expecting child were not married is proof that this series is just as bad as any other. But I didn’t see that. I don’t feel the need for every character to uphold my exact moral views before I see the truth in what they are doing. I like that in this story a romance was a beginning that is led to something bigger instead of insinuating that parenthood is a boring and a waste of ambition.
I liked the show. Undead characters, British humor, complicated love/hate triangles and moral ambiguity.

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