Sunday, 10 January 2010

On Being Human (and Paranormal Activity in 2009)

At 09:30 this evening, I will have wrested control of the TV remote for the long-awaited return of BBC3's Being Human - a comedy/drama in which a vampire, ghost and werewolf houseshare and try desperately to fit into a society that doesn't acknowledge their existence. I can't wait.

Everything about this programme is perfect for me - the supernatural taken away from Gothic castles and misty graveyards and transferred to three bedroom semi in a residential street in Bristol. There are no capes, coffins or cobwebs; there are copious cups of tea (made out of habit by a ghost who can't drink them), problems with the neighbours, relationship issues and struggles to make the best of a bad situation. It's almost taking the 'para' out of paranormal, and leaving us with three ordinary 20 somethings coping as best they can with their lot. Almost. But not quite. Because on a full moon George turns into a wolfman, Mitchell fights daily against the urge to drain the blood from every pretty young girl he sees and Annie tries to figure out why exactly she's still stuck on earth when she's...well...dead. I appreciate it might sound rubbish, especially with my dubious writing skills - but I seriously recommend it. It's great.

My excitement has lead me to consider the plethora of paranormal programmes, films and books that surfaced in 2009 - most of which I've been an avid fan of. Someone at work said they read an article saying that there's a history of vampire/zombie/werewolf books and films enjoying a soaring popularity during times of financial crisis. Whether this is true or not I don't know - was 2009's obsession with the supernatural sparked by the shower of shit that was the economic crisis? Maybe we have more time for it because we want to be dragged out of the dark reality of recession into a world where the ordinary can become extraordinary.

Earlier in the year, I spent no small amount of time immersed in reading the Twilight Saga, sharing knowing glances with other Twi-hards on the tube and train. By the time I'd finished it, however, I felt a bit...meh. The first couple are decent books, but by the last one Meyer had completely lost the plot, leaving us with an ending that didn't really satisfy and sounding a little bit too much like a prudish R.E. teacher telling students to be good when they grow up. She has a fantastic imagination, obviously, but I didn't really rate her writing - although it can't have been that bad because it did keep me hooked. I have a lot more time for the film. After watching Twilight for the first time I sent a friend a message saying something along the lines of "OMG Edward. Bite. My. Neck." It obviously affected me in a very profound way. I suppose I'm not really part of the demographic that the Twilight books are written for - perhaps that's why the writing grates on me. They're great for a bit of easy escapism - as books they don't demand anything from you, and the first film, I think, is actually well made.

Then True Blood hit our screens with graphic inter-species sex scenes and more parallels with the US Civil Rights Movement than you could shake a stick at. I've never read the Southern Vampire Books but the series blew me away with its adult treatment of the folklore we're already so familiar with. There's almost no comparision between Twilight's tween vampires and the edgey drama of True Blood. And am I the only one who didn't suspect xxx of being the murderer? Didn't see it coming at all. I could never relax while watching this - either a character I liked would end up smashed to a bloody pulp on the kitchen floor or someone would walk in while gentleman Bill Compton was giving Slutty Stackhouse one and I'd be branded a pervert for watching porn in the living room.

E4 saw the trend and added to it, with the fantastic Misfits following five young offenders who develop super powers after a freak storm hits London. E4's viral campaign surrounding this series was fantastic - the 'characters' are still tweeting and posting on YouTube now, keeping the audience in the loop while we wait for series 2. In the same vein as Being Human, the five protagonists are fairly ordinary people. They have no desire to perform heroic deeds and can make no sense of the gifts, or curses, thrust upon them. Misfits is at times laugh out loud funny, at others unexpectedly touching. It's almost a mixture of the above - the Twilight age group, with the gritty and dark, no holds barred humour of True Blood. Bring on series 2. Soon.

Hopefully this year won't be as difficult as last year - but if it is, fingers crossed we'll be given as much top-notch supernatural escapism to help keep reality at bay.


  1. i have heard that being human is pretty awesome. i will have to give it a go...

  2. hahahaa

    i just reread my comment. i like the dual meaning of it


  3. Excellent work! Made me chuckle. Do give it a go if you can...not sure how you'd get hold of it where you are though...

  4. Totally agree... Twilight lost me on the fourth book, I was so disappointed. It was enough to keep my attention, but nothing in the plot went the way I wanted it to.

  5. I know! Rubbish right? It's like she wanted to wrap everything up as neatly as possible without anything actually interesting happening. Much disappointment!