In a Facebook post this past weekend, Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles, said she had regained the theatrical rights to her novels and wanted to turn them into a TV show.
Two novels in the series were previously made into movies – Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned – and as recently as April 2016, major motion picture studios were in the midst of a new, updated version of Interview with the Vampire.
With this kind of interest in the novels and the vampire craze of a few years back, The Vampire Chronicles seems like it would be ripe for adaptation possibilities. But is it too little, too late for a dying genre?
The Current State of Vampire TV
The cancellation of True Blood in 2014 dealt a mighty blow to the vampire genre, as it was and remains one of the longest running vampire-based series in existence. Thanks to its home on HBO – and therefore, award show cachet – True Blood also offered a degree of prestige and mainstream popularity that other series didn’t.
But the demise of True Blood did not signal the end of the genre as a whole. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals continue to offer a more young adult, soapy take on vampires while The Strain and From Dusk till Dawn frequently traffic in the darker aspects of these creatures of the night.
There’s no sign that the genre will be slowing done any time soon either – in spite of The Vampire Diaries’s imminent cancellation – as TNT announced a 2017 adaptation of Let the Right One In and Syfy’s Van Helsing was recently renewed for a second season.
However, these shows have by and large operated on a niche basis, and none have enjoyed the popularity of a True Blood or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the vampire genre isn’t exactly dying, it’s also not as vital in the TV landscape as it was in past years.
It’s clear though that the audience still has a taste for vampires, and Anne Rice, who defined the creatures for a generation, may be the perfect person to inject some fresh blood into the genre.
What Can Anne Rice and Her Vampires Offer?
With characters like Lestat and Louis, Anne Rice is widely considered to have started the whole idea that vampires are really sexy. Up until The Vampire Chronicles started in the 1970s, vampires were more mysterious and creepy than straight up sexy.
Clearly, Rice’s work has influenced many TV shows since then, but can a revival of The Vampires Chronicles, even on TV, offer anything new to the genre? That’s how genres survive, after all – by being tested and expanded.
The best thing Anne Rice could do with her TV show is take the homosexual subtext of The Vampire Chronicles and make it text full stop. The author has already in some ways managed to do this in non-canon by saying that she feels people of any gender can love each other.
Though True Blood had gay and bisexual characters, they weren’t always well-served by the narrative. With Anne Rice’s track history, it remains to be seen if she could write a satisfying gay vampire series, but since there have been so few shows to truly embrace homosexuality, The Vampire Chronicles TV series is one that I would like to see at least try.
Another potentially intriguing aspect of the series is that Anne Rice frequently states that her characters have no gender. The rights of trans and nonbinary people are extremely important at the moment, and giving marginalized groups representation is always a win.
Is it too forward-thinking to expect Rice to embrace plotlines surrounding same-sex attraction and gender non-conformity? Perhaps.
But the hard truth is that because Rice’s book series started 40 years ago and because vampires have evolved since then, in part thanks to Rice herself, the author needs to offer something that few vampire series have been able to offer in order to carve a place within the genre.
Writing purely in the style of Interview with the Vampire – and man, that movie hasn’t aged well – isn’t going to cut it in this day and age.
Moving Forward with Anne Rice
In her Facebook post, Rice announced she and her son, Christopher, would be developing the pilot script for an open-ended series, which would start with The Vampire Lestat. From there, it’s a long process to get producers and networks behind the project, so any excitement may be premature.
But if Anne Rice manages to do for vampire TV what she did for vampire books starting in the 70s and 80s, this project is worth as much excitement as you can stand.