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**SPOILER ALERT:  This post may contain spoilers for those viewers who haven’t seen all of last season’s episode.  Proceed at your own entertainment “peril”!**

Up until the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on September 22nd, this blog will focus on the returning TV shows I’m most excited are coming back.  This week’s entry is…The Vampire Diaries!

I’m 36 years old, and I love watching The Vampire Diaries!  Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s intelligently written and understands their audience and genre in a way not many do.

I do not consider myself a horror fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to enjoy the supernatural-esque television programs.  Then again, that’s probably only because Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an excellent TV show.  I was so impressed by the high quality of content each week for 7 years that when I heard a new vampire show was coming to TV, I was instantly intrigued.  Besides, it was under the care of two gifted individuals – Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec.

I grew up during the WB heyday of television.  Which is why, if Joss Whedon, Kevin Williamson, and J.J. Abrams ever worked on a project together I would absolutely stand in line to buy tickets.  These are three exceptionally talented writers/show runners who seamlessly balance comedy, suspense and drama.  I watched Dawson’s Creek each week, engaged by the stories, characters and dialogue.  So, the creator of Dawson’s Creek bringing a vampirific show to television…you better believe I was going to watch!!!

There are so many elements that make TVD a must-watch show – complex characters, surprising twists, and a beating heart.  It doesn’t just scare you, or throw melodrama in your direction.  Instead, it interweaves supernatural content with an emotional base.  It’s not just that vampires are roaming around town.  More importantly, the audience sees and understands how these situations impact the characters on an emotional level.

Hand-made necklace that's rather Vampire Diaries-esque

Hand-made necklace that’s rather Vampire Diaries-esque

In much the same way as Buffy, The Vampire Diaries allows their characters to drive the show.  If we don’t care whether Elena lives or dies, then why bother watching?  If Damon never has moments of decency, then he’d become one-note.  If Stefan remained always the hero and never faulted, then we’d long for something deeper.  In all of those instances, the opposite occurred.  For example, Elena Gilbert encompasses kindness, family, friendship, humanity and life itself.  She keeps the show grounded in a world filled with tragedy and despair.  When she hurts, we hurt.  When she losses another important person in her life, we cry along with her.  The writers continuously take Elena on a bumpy ride that I hope doesn’t end soon.  Because as she battles her own demons, we ultimately wish that she succeeds.

We care about what happens to the characters on this beloved drama series because of the nuances in the acting performances.  They each portray comedy and drama with ease.  They melt our heart one minute then showcase their range when their character shifts from tortured soul to outright cruelty.

Nina Dobrev (Elena), Paul Wesley (Stefan), and Ian Somerhalder (Damon) easily weave in and out of heartbreak and breaking hearts.  They’ve each been given the gift of playing characters without conscience and ones torn apart by their actions.  In Nina’s case, there are many times when she gets to weave in and out between 3 very different characters, and does it so well that I forget the same actress portrays them all!  These three gifted individuals have us rooting them on even when their respective characters are on a downward spiral.

As phenomenal as those three artists are, The Vampire Diaries has gifted us with a strong canvas of characters that inhabit the world of “Mystic Falls”.  Some of those actors who stole our hearts (no pun intended) are portrayed brilliantly by the following – Candice Accola, Kat Graham, Steve McQueen, Zach Roerig, Michael Trevino, Joseph Morgan, Sara Canning, Claire Holt, Matthew Davis and so many more.

While I’ve singled out one aspect of TVD, there are so many other pieces of the puzzle that accent one another beautifully – the writing, music, stunts, and cinematography blend together perfectly; thus creating a finished work that’s worthy of my praise and admiration.  The Vampire Diaries doesn’t get award recognition from academy members, yet they’ve won on a much more significant level.  The cast and crew of this heart-wrenching TV drama have the love and respect of their audience.  As such, they’ll live on in our hearts years after the series finale.

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