A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens will probably want to watch this slickly produced supernatural drama. One obvious reason is that The Vampire Diaries is about young people -- and attractive ones at that. It also plays into the popularity of vampires and all things otherworldly. That said, it's a lot edgier than Twilight, making it an iffy choice for younger teens. For one thing, the violence is pretty graphic -- although most of the time, it isn't over-the-top gory -- and some scenes between characters are pretty steamy. The show also tends to portray underage drinking as commonplace without showing too many serious consequences.
What's the story?
Based on the best-selling young adult novels by L.J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES centers on the interplay between orphaned beauty Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and two drop-dead gorgeous vampire brothers -- the good-hearted Stefan (Paul Wesley) and the sadistic Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Both Elena and Stefan keep track of their thoughts and feelings by writing in their journals, but Stefan's diary also contains fascinating details about his complicated past and the town's surprising supernatural history. Later in the series, the plot thickens with the arrival of Elena's vampire doppelganger, Katherine (also played by Dobrev in a dual role), and "original" vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan).
Is it any good?
For vampire-crazed fans of the Twilight series (both in book and movie form) and the adults-only TV drama True Blood, The Vampire Diaries has just about everything, including teen angst, dramatic tension, and crush-worthy creatures of the night. The show took off as a hit with teens and young adults...and maybe even a few of their parents. And while there are obvious parallels to the Twilight storyline, it's worth noting that the book trilogy that inspired this series was originally released in 1991, predating Stephenie Meyer's Twilight bestsellers by nearly 15 years.
Even if you're on the fence about vampires, werewolves and witches, The Vampire Diaries still delivers better-than-average entertainment, boasting a soundtrack that oozes cool (with songs from artists like The Killers and MGMT) and a talented cast that can really get its brood on. This Teen Choice- and People's Choice-nominated series also gets props for maturing along with its characters, expanding the plot to include much more about Mystic Falls's fascinating past.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of vampires and other supernatural beings in the media. Why do audiences -- particularly young adults -- find magical creatures so appealing? Do you think it's just a fad that will wear out its welcome?
If you've read the books that this series is based on, how does the show compare? Did the writers take any creative license? If so, why do you think they changed the story?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.