Team Salvatore and the Fight for Elena’s (and Viewers’) Hearts
‘The Vampire Diaries’ is a fantastically fun show to watch, but one of the most insufferable fandoms I’ve come across in recent years. It’s always, “But Damon is so hot!” and “Stefan is heroic and sweet and really loves Elena.” And I’m sitting in the corner going, “Um, like, choose both.” But because this show is on the CW and a ménage à trois is not acceptable (unless this is fanfiction, in which case, go for it, and can you point me in the direction of some good stories?), I’ve tried to break down why I think this fandom has so much trouble getting along.
- BOTH DAMON AND STEFAN ARE VIABLE BOYFRIEND OPTIONS. In most fandoms, there tends to be an obvious ship that the majority of fans cling to. For example, Joey and Pacey of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ were the ship to end all ships in the Creek, and pretty much every fan I’ve come across (actually, pretty much every person with a vagina that I’ve come across) ships these two characters. And that’s not just because they were perfect together (though they obviously were), but there also was never a viable second choice for either of the characters. Take Seth and Summer from ‘The OC’. Again, the writers tried, but there were never characters that worked. On ‘The Vampire Diaries’, however, there are two very suitable vampires vying for Elena’s attention. While the trope of good-girl-falls-for-good-boy-only-to-be-stolen-away-by-the-bad-boy is almost a standard in television writing these days, most shows don’t have a good boy and a bad boy character that are equally enjoyable. Dawson was downright insufferable, what with his crying and whining and big words and all that. Zach didn’t have the sarcastic sweetness that made so many women all over the world fall in love with Seth Cohen. But when you compare broody, beautiful, sweet, heroic Stefan to his equally mischievous, charming., handsome wounded older brother Damon, it’s really hard for any person with a vagina to choose the better companion. Both will risk their lives for Elena, both are good looking and irresistible in their own way. To choose between Damon and Stefan is like asking a drunk person to choose between the burrito or the potato skins. Most of the time their going to try to choose both because they are equally satisfying, but in their own unique way. I’m not sure who’s the burrito and who’s the potato skins in this analogy, but I’ve started it and I’m sticking with it. Also, now I’m hungry.
- PEOPLE ARE MISSING THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE SHOW: TEAM SALVATORE Now, I have a college degree and I may have even take a literary analysis class or two during my four years as an undergraduate, so I am totally qualified to make the following analysis. Many fans will argue until their faces are blue that this show is a love story about a mortal high school girl and her undead vampire boyfriend who’s story is definitely far into the creepy territory if one stops and actually considers their age difference. But that’s not at all what this show is about. This show is a story about brotherhood. It’s a story about the Salvatore brothers. Elena Gilbert’s presence in the beginning of the show is little more than a plot device used to bring the Salvatore brothers back together, to make them understand how much family matters, to realize that they each need the other in their lives. Prior to the beginning of the show, Damon and Stefan are not speaking to each other, nor are they aware of what the other brother is doing. Damon does not care for Stefan’s goody-two-shoes, brooding heroic bit, and Stefan does not approve of Damon’s complete disregard for human life. Damon traipses across the globe leaving a trail of blood and destruction and feels no remorse for his actions. At the beginning of the show, Stefan falls for the beautiful plot device that is the sweet, naive, high school student and recently orphaned, Elena Gilbert. Moving along through the first season we see Damon start to evolve as a character. He stops compelling Caroline and starts falling for Elena, in a real, honest way. He risks his life time and time again for her, something old!Damon would never have done.During the course of season two it is completely obvious that Damon has fallen in love with Elena (especially after he finds out Katherine never loved him, it was always Stefan, and what a horrendous troll she actually was), and that she makes him want to be a better man. He confesses his love to her only to wipe away her memory of the moment, which many Stefan/Elena fans found to be completely intolerable. How could he violate her mind that way? Oh hush, that wasn’t the thing you were supposed to take away from that scene. You were supposed to see that his love for Elena has changed him, that he truly cares about his brother and his brother’s happiness. When he says, “I don’t deserve you, but my brother does” he made vaginas across America swoon with love and desire, but what he’s really saying is that his brother has been a much better man over the last century and a half, and that he deserves the goodness that is Elena’s love more than himself. His internal struggle over how he missed being human also made Damon a more relatable and likeable character, even put him on the same playing field as the brooding Stefan one could say. But their story is far from finished. It was a big step for Stefan to apologize to Damon for turning him, and for him to admit that he just needed his brother with him. Early season one Stefan would never have made that declaration, nor would he ever have surrendered himself to Klaus in order to secure the cure for a werewolf’s bite for Damon. There was too much bullshit between the brothers, but they’ve both grown over the last two seasons and I think the next test will be how Damon and Elena will rescue evil!Stefan from Klaus’ maniacal grip, while figuring out their own feelings for one another. Because season one Damon would have taken Stefan’s absence as his chance to swoop in and steal Elena away, but he’s not that same character anymore. He cares too much about his brother and Elena to do that. Damon will be looking for any way to find and rescue Stefan before things get out of hand. It should also be mentioned that Elena loves Stefan too much to ever hurt him that way. I ultimately ship Damon and Elena, but that probably stems more from my complete devotion to the “bad boy” characters of fiction (see Tim Riggins, Jess Mariano, Logan Echolls, Pacey Witter, Spike, etc.) than about anything else. But while many fans are screaming, “DAMON AND ELENA AND TO HELL WITH EVERYONE ELSE AND THEIR FEELINGS,” I’m sitting calmly trying to figure out how the writers are going to stay true to the story of the brothers and true to the characters they’ve created over the past two seasons. Because while the love story is a driving force behind the show, it’s still a show about brotherhood and family and relying on the only people you’ve got. It’s like ‘Buffy’ in that sense. Buffy never had a real conventional family, she was forced to rely on a group of friends and lovers that became her rock, her family. Damon and Stefan are the only real family each other has. They’ve got a nice little group of witches and doppleganers and werewolfs and bromances to rely on, but they’re the real heroes of the show and their story is what the show is about.
Now if we can all agree on these two very valid points, then I think we can all get along and there will be less fandom wank. I love this show and I love these compelling characters, but I do not love the people who also love this show. Too many people are starting fights with the other side and it makes the internet unbearable. Look at everything from all sides and stop arguing with people about why one boyfriend/brother is better than the other and just agree that both are pretty badass in their own ways. And once everyone realizes that Team Salvatore is the real reason this show exists then maybe we’ll all be able to get along.
Note: Photo courtesy of The CW.