Tag Archives: series

BINGE OR NO: Netflix’s GLOW

(Soon to be cross-posted on Agony Booth.com)

When I was a kid, my mother was a huge fan of soap operas. In the days before DVR, and before Netflix made binge-watching a “thing,” she would record an entire week’s worth of her favorite soap, Days of Our Lives, while she worked, so that she could spend her Saturdays catching up with all her fictional best friends and lovers and their increasingly wacky lives.

As a result, my father would often chide my mother, a career woman with a Masters degree, for her deep-abiding love for this evil-twin having, devil possessing, amnesia abusing, secret love child coveting, art form. Whenever he did so, my mother would wryly reply that my father’s ability to watch countless hours of WWF wrestling was pretty much precisely the same thing as her Days of Our Lives addiction. Wrestling, she claimed, was, after all, a soap opera geared toward men. This argument undoubtedly horrified my father, who would inevitably respond by turning up the volume on his wrestling match full blast, as if to say that no series that LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS could possibly be equivalent to a “ladies’ television show.” But deep down, I think he knew that my mother had a point.

This exact same epiphany is experienced by GLOW’s co-female lead Debbie Eagen, a former soap star, who must now try her hand at a role where your ability to “pretty cry” is not nearly as important as the depth which you could realistically portray the pain of having someone twice your size sit on your face.

Based on an actual television series of the same name that took to the airwaves for four seasons, during the years of 1986 through 1990 (many of the wrestling personas portrayed here are based on characters from the original series), Netflix’s GLOW is a ten half-hour episode long comedy set piece about the maybe (?) origins of women’s wrestling.

The REAL cast of GLOW

Leading this large and diverse cast of mostly female actresses is Allison Brie, as Ruth Wilder, a grown-up theater geek, and out-of-work actress, who is desperate to find an on-screen role where her character does more than bring a powerful male lead coffee, or tell him that his wife is on line 2.

That is, perhaps, one of the most interesting things about GLOW the series, the way in which it argues that women’s wrestling, as an art form, was actually pretty progressive, particularly for its time period, in the way in which it championed strong females, both as the heroes and the villains of its stories. Not such a big accomplishment, you say? Think about what a HUGE deal everyone made over the Wonder Woman movie actually featuring a female superhero, and how long that film took to make it to the big screen. And this is 2017, over thirty years after women’s wrestling premiered on TV!

In GLOW, Ruth is able to take on the role of her dreams, that of a female lead villain, who is strong, tough, takes no prisoners, and would sooner pour scalding hot coffee on a man’s head, than serve it to him black with two sugars. I mean, sure, women’s wrestling had its down sides too. Most of the “characters” on the show were thinly drawn, and often aggressively offensive, racial, and socio-cultural stereotypes: The Terrorist, The Welfare Queen, The Evil Communist, and an Asian Character named Fortune Cookie. Not to mention how the female wrestlers were often hooted at, degraded, and objectified by men, as they rolled around with one another in scantily clad outfits. Yet, arguably all those same downsides applied to men’s wrestling as well. So, there’s an odd sense of equal opportunity here, when it comes to poor taste.

Speaking of objectification, those men out there looking to revel in hot bodacious babes engaging in Sapphic aggressive dances with one another might be a bit disappointed with Netflix’s GLOW. With one or two exceptions, this is not a particularly glammed up bunch of ladies. 80’s fashions (which are showcased in all their neon-tinted, big-hair having, glory here) do NOBODY any favors, appearance wise, at least by modern-day beauty standards. Even Allison Brie, who in real life is quite beautiful, has her looks noticeably, and purposefully, toned down here. Her character Ruth wears little to no makeup throughout most of the series, and often prefers shapeless, oversized, outfits to more form-fitting attire.

In terms of characters, Brie’s Ruth, Betty Gilpin’s Debbie, and Marc Maron’s schlocky, but occasionally paternal, showrunner Sam take center stage here during most of the episodes. The rest of the cast serves largely as comedic support, their roles limited mainly to the stereotypical characters they play on the wrestling mat. As a fan of Jenji Kohan’s other Netflix Series Orange is the New Black, I found myself wanting to see more of many of these characters, and to learn what brought them to this unique job opportunity, possibly through the use of OINTB inspired flashbacks. There are no such flashbacks in GLOW.

Just as OINTB’s Season 1 story was largely about Piper and her complicated love-hate relationship with Alex, so too was GLOW’s Season 1 story predominately about Ruth and her friendship turned antagonistic relationship with Debbie. (I’d tell you why it turns antagonistic, but I’m afraid that would be a bit of a spoiler.) Perhaps, if the show gets picked up for a second season, GLOW, like OINTB, will branch out and feature more of the backstories of its intriguing and diverse ensemble cast.

As for the series itself, though it takes a little while to find its footing and humorous tone, GLOW is sudsy good fun, with just the right amount of 80’s camp, and a pro-feminist message thrown in for good measure. At a mere five-hour run time, GLOW is easy and painless to breeze through. The live-taping of the wrestling show featured in the final episode serves for an exciting and entertaining, colorful capstone to the series. And you will undoubtedly find yourself missing GLOW a bit when its over.

So, in the end, my mom was right.  Wrestling, and shows inspired by wrestling, are a bit like soap operas. Both are guilty pleasures, for sure. But if you look closely, you might just find a little bit of substance underneath those suds.

FINAL VERDICT: BINGE IT!

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Step Inside The Secret Circle – A Look at one of the CW’s Most Promising New Fall Series

“Hi!  We are a group of extremely attractive, well-dressed, early twenty-somethings, pretending to be teens.  One of our favorite hobbies is to stare at the camera, in a vaguely angry (but, not too threatening) way.”

I’ll start off by saying that I don’t have the best luck writing these types of posts.  The last new “fall premiere program,” I previewed on my blog, before the pilot aired, was a show called My Generation.  Don’t remember it?  Maybe, that’s because it got CANCELLED AFTER TWO EPISODES!

And yet, given that THIS new program is (1)  is based on popular book series, written by the same author who penned The Vampire Diaries; (2) is being produced by Kevin Williamson, the Big Kahuna behind The Vampire Diaries; (3)  will air on the CW, Thursday nights, directly AFTER The Vampire Diaries, I feel fairly confident that this show will last AT LEAST half a season, if not longer . . .

I am so insanely beautiful and talented, that merely by standing in close proximity to me, YOU will also appear to be more beautiful and talented.”

So, now that I’ve (hopefully) proven that reading this blog post will not be a TOTAL waste of your time maybe just a partial waste? let’s delve into The Secret Circle, shall we?

The Source

As I mentioned earlier, this upcoming CW series (like the successful Vampire Diaries franchise before it) will be based on a collection of L.J. Smith novels bearing the same name.  The Secret Circle book series was a trilogy comprised of the following novels: (1) The Initiation, (2) The Captive, and (3) The Power.  Both the television and the book series revolve around a girl named Cassie,  who learns that she is a powerful teenage witch, who just so happens to belong to an elite “circle” of OTHER powerful teenage witches.  And yet, if The Secret Circle television series is anything like The Vampire Diaries television series, that’s about where the similarities between the books and the TV show will end . . .

One main difference between the books and television series that already has fans buzzing is the size of the titular Circle, itself.  The book calls for a coven of twelve teens to complete the circle, whereas the show only seems to require six.  Granted, in terms of consistent character development, a twelve-member regular cast can seem a bit overwhelming to some writers . . .

On the other hand, a number of fans question the showrunner’s decision to excise so many potential HOT MALE WARLOCk roles, on a show geared predominately toward young FEMALES.  In terms of teenage male leads, The Secret Circle only has two, for now.  Will a choice between just two dudes be enough to please fangirls, in the long term?  That remains to be seen . . .

The Cast of Characters

Leading lady, Cassie Blake, who undoubtedly will eventually become romantically involved with BOTH male leads (Sound familiar?) . . .

 . . . will be played by Brittany Robertson.   Some of you might remember Brittany as Lux from the recently canceled CW series, Life Unexpected. You also might recognize her as one of the many dead girls in Scream 4.  (Sorry to spoil the movie for you guys!).

Thomas Dekker plays the brooding and soulful, Adam Conant, boyfriend of “Good Witch” Diana Meade, and main love interest of Cassie Blake.  You might remember Thomas as John Connor from the recently canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or as, one of the many dead guys in The Nightmare on Elm Street remake.  (Am I the only one who is starting to notice a pattern, here?)

Phoebe Tonkin plays the bitchy, power-hungry, Mean Girl / potential “Bad Witch,” Faye Chamberlain.  Aussies might recognize Phoebe as Cleo from the the television series H20: Just Add Water.  She also played Fiona in the film Tomorrow, When the War Began.

Speaking of Aussies, Louis Hunter, who plays the flirtatious and slightly arrogant (but still sexy) Nick Armstrong, is, perhaps, best known for his role as Kyle in the Australian series, Out of the Blue.

Kind-hearted head witch, Diana Meade will be played by Shelley Hennig, who soap opera fans might remember as Stephanie Johnson on Days of Our Lives.

Rounding out the titular Secret Circle as Faye’s Mean Girl Sidekick witch, Melissa Glaser, is Jessica Parker Kennedy, who fans of the CW’s Smallville might remember as comic book villain, Plastique.

Arguably the shows most recognizable cast member, Gale Horold, plays the murderous Thomas Meade.  Television credits for Gale Harold include Hellcats, Queer as Folk, and Desperate Housewives.

And finally . . .

While perhaps best known as a freaky man-killing alien from the movie, Species, Natasha Henstridge, who plays the not quite trustworthy Principal Chamberlain, also had starring roles in television programs, including, Eli Stone and She Spies.

Analyzing the Extended Promo

Now, that you’ve met the cast, it’s time to take a look at the Extended Promo, which I plan to discuss in more detail below.  So, watch and learn, Witches and Warlocks! 

(Note: Due to some SUPER ANNOYING copyright restrictions, it looks like they’ve removed the extended promo for this show from EVERYWHERE it was posted, except for the CW Website, itself.  Nevertheless, if you still want to “watch with ME,” feel free to click on this link, either before, or while, you are viewing the analysis below.)

:00 – “My sweet Cassie, I did not want you to have this life.  But Destiny is not easy to run from.”

“Grrrrrrrr!  ROAD RAGE!”

Poor Cassie!  Apparently, “Destiny” is not easy to drive from, either.  We aren’t 30 seconds into the trailer, and already, Cassie has been driven off the road by some Asshat Driver, got a flat tire, and is about to lose cell phone reception, while stranded in Middle of Nowhere U.S.A..  Of course, judging by what happens to her next, this is probably the BEST part of her night . . .

:30 – “I know how to change a TIRE, MOM!”

Here’s a hint:  Don’t get too attached to Mommy, kids.  Because THIS ONE isn’t going to make it out of the promo alive.  I actually think this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a cast member DIE in the PREVIEW for a pilot episode.  Talk about a SPOILER ALERT!  I mean, that’s gotta be a first, right?  And we all know how much Kevin Williamson likes his BIG BODY COUNTS! 

I’m just wondering why (since Cassie’s mom is supposed to be this Big Powerful Witch) couldn’t she, I don’t know,  cast a spell to prevent her from . . . BEING BURNED ALIVE IN HER OWN HOME?  Weird . . .

:45 – [Insert sound of burning flesh here.]

We are just under the one-minute mark, when we get our first look at the EEEVIIL Thomas Meade, as he bakes Cassie’s mom for dinner.  I found the whole scene pretty shocking, the first time I saw it.  On a Non-Dead Mom note, notice how the Four Elements come into play in this scene.  Witch shows always tend to be big on the whole Four Elements thing, “earth, air, fire, water” and all that.  Notice how, the Evil One drops a bottle of water on the floor to trigger the burst pipe in Cassie’s kitchen, and lights the matches to trigger the fatal gas leak. 

Also, Dude’s got some SERIOUSLY FREAKY EYES!  Are we sure he’s not a vampire?

*sniffs*  “Do you smell something burning?”

1:04 – “Cassie.”

“I think I may have left the oven light on.”

Cassie’s mom .  . . DEAD .  . . in under two minutes.  Impressive.  You know what else I found impressive?  The fact that this good-hearted Mommy’s final thoughts were of her daughter’s soon-to-be orphan status.  (No word on “Daddy” yet.   I’m thinking there’s some sort of Big Backstory there.)  That sure was nice of Mommy to think so selflessly of her kid, while her body was getting barbecued. 

Because you know what MY final thought would have been, if I was in her position?  I suspect it would be something like, “Hmmm . . .  I wonder how painful it is to be burned alive in your own home.  I’m going to guess excruciatingly painful.  Time to test out this theory.” 

Then again, perhaps, it would be something a bit less eloquent, like, for example, “F*&K, I’M GOING TO DIE! AHHHHHHHHHH!”

1:15 – “Welcome to Chance Harbor.”

I noticed that, in the books, the town where the story takes place is called New Salem.  I’m kind of glad they changed it.   Because that would be a bit TOO MUCH Cheesy Witch Symbolism, don’t you think?  And yet, I can’t help but notice all the OBVIOUS parallels between THIS sleepy town, and TVD’s Mystic Falls. 

I mean, think about it, you’ve got the whole Small Town Hiding a Big Supernatural Secret thing . . . the Founding Families thing . .  . even the whole Old Diaries and Letters from the Past Inform the Present thing.  Plus, I’m willing to bet there’s only One Bar / Social Establishment HERE too!

“Been there, drunk that.”

1:25 – “Cassie!  I’m really glad you’re here.”  But I’m not glad that my kid died of some Weird Witchcraft Accident . . . because that would be, you know, inappropriate.”

 “This is the part where my eyes glow bright red, and I snap your neck.  Oh . . . wait . . . wrong show.  Sorry!”

Hmmm . . . Grandma looks pretty young to have a grandchild in her late teens, doesn’t she?  Come to think of it, most of the “parents” on this show, appear to be a bit young looking.  Maybe being a witch comes with anti-aging powers, or something?

I have to say, I’m already worried about Grandma’s fate on this show.  After all, we all know full well that the statistics regarding Grandmas surviving supernatural dramas are not exactly in her favor.  Just ask Sookie’s Granny on True Blood . . .

 . . . or Bonnie’s grandma on The Vampire Diaries .

Oh wait, you can’t ask them . . . because they are both DEAD!

1:35 – “And she will soon discover that her arrival will bring the Town’s Dark Secret to light.”

“If I see anything I haven’t seen before, I’ll throw a dollar at it.”

I love how when the voiceover teased that the Town had “Dark Secrets,” they chose to show us an image of Open-Shirted Nick, of all things . . .

Hot?  Yes.  Damon Salvatore-caliber hot?  No.

So, is that supposed to be the town’s Big Dark Secret, that hot guys hang out in windows with their shirts open?  Still, the fact that this six-minute preview featured BOTH a death, and a half-naked hot man, I find VERY promising . . .

1:37 –

And . . . here we are at Chance Harbor High.  So, do you think Cassie will actually GO TO SCHOOL on this show, or will she be a TOTAL derelict, like Elena Gilbert?

“Hey!  I resent that remark.  I am a VERY good student.  I attend EVERY school dance!”

1:40 – “We are happy to have you here, Cassie.  I’m Principal Chamberlain.  Your mother was  . . . very special to me.  And by “special” I mean I wanted to use my magical powers to turn her into a slug.

I once saw the woman pictured above in a movie, where she enticed a man to have sex with her, seconds before MORPHING INTO A SERIOUSLY UGLY ALIEN LIFEFORM, AND IMPALING HIS HEAD WITH HER SNAKE-LIKE TONGUE!  So, yeah, I don’t care how pretty Principal Chamberlain is, or how nice of a smile she has . . . I don’t trust her!

1:46 – “Have you seen her yet?”

“Did I SEE her?  I did a little striptease for her in front of my bedroom window.  She is now pregnant with my children.  Magical Powers ROCK!”

Well, HELLO LOVE TRIANGLE!  The romantic aspects of this tale COULD prove to be particularly interesting, considering that both of Cassie’s suitors are, at this time, technically “taken” by other members of the Secret Circle.  I’m eager to see how this plays out in the show’s first season.  However, beyond that, I already feel like, if this show wants to last, it’s going to need MORE hot male blood infused in it, and FAST!

1:53 – “She’s meeting a new Circle of Friends.”

Was it just me?  Or did this scene IMMEDIATELY make you think of the movie Mean Girls?  Phoebe Tonkin was ABSOLUTELY channeling Regina George, when she pulled that little locker trick.  Is it any wonder that her sidekick, Melissa, played Plastique in Smallville?  Get it . . . Plastique?  As in . . . The Plastics?

2:02 – “I saw you in school today.  How was your first day?”

*brood, smoulder, smirk, brood, smoulder, smirk*

Adam, i.e. Love Interest Number 1, is clearly angling for the “Dark yet Sensitive Type.”  How original!  It could work though.  So, far, I’m kind of seeing him as a cross between Stefan Salvatore and Jeremy Gilbert.  Anybody else getting those vibes from him?

2:20 – “With her here, we have REAL POWER now!”

 

And so the power to control the Circle begins between the “Good Witch” and the “Bad Witch.”  For the sake of the show, I’m hoping things are a bit more complicated than that.  Otherwise, the dichotomy will get real old, real fast.  I’m definitely liking Faye, as the edgy, yet vulnerable, villainess on the show, however.  She shows real promise . . .

2:33 – “How did the fire go out?”

Only YOU can prevent witchcraft-induced car fires . . .

It’s interesting that Faye, in trying to make Cassie recognize her supernatural abilities, chose, of all things, a Car Fire, especially considering that a Witchy Fire just so happened to be what killed the poor girl’s MOTHER.  And just like I wondered why Cassie’s mom, who KNEW she was a witch, didn’t use her powers to put out the fire, Faye seems to be wondering the same thing about Cassie.

As for the whole Rescue Thing . . .

. . .  did the writers REALLY expect us not to think about Twilight, here.  I know, I know, the book series on which this show is based came out LONG before Twilight did.  But those books also came out before a lot of the future fans of this show were BORN!

For better or worse, Twilight is what we remember NOW.  So, how could the creators of this show not see the quiet brooding supernatural creature, putting out the fire with his “powers,” and rescuing the damsel in distress from the flames, and not immediately think of Edward and Bella?  Just sayin’.

Oh, and Cassie TOTALLY screams like a girl! 🙂

3:09 – “Cassie, wait!  I think I can help.”

Umm . . . yeah, because THAT place isn’t creepy, AT ALL!  It kind of looks like the house at the end of the Blair Witch Project.  *shudders*

We are now half-way through the trailer.  And FINALLY, Cassie gets introduced to the titular “Secret Circle.”  It’s about damn time!

3:32 – “Oh, for god sakes, SPIT IT OUT!  You’re a witch.  You are a full-blooded, 100% witch.  We ALL ARE.”

Haha!  Well, thank you, FAYE!  I always hate when books and television shows take about 35 minutes to come clean about something you already figured out from reading the book jacket or watching the trailer.  At least ONE of the characters on this show has enough sense to call the REST of the characters out on their B.S.  3.5 minutes in, and Faye is already, by far, my favorite character on this show.

3:45 – “Each family has a book.  A book that lays out each family line.”

Ahh, yes the Obligatory Ancient Book wherein you can find the Convenient Cure Alls for all your Plot Problems!  You can’t have a  supernatural series without one!  Speaking of TVD-parallels, as I mentioned earlier, I also found the “six families” concept, to be very “Founding Families-esque. 

Oh, and for those of you who have ever seen the film The Craft, Melissa’s speech, about the Circle only being able to do “lame” spells, until Cassie came along, ABSOLUTELY reminds me of a similar comment made in that film.

 

4:03 – “We can’t let it happen AGAIN.”

Oh, Silly Naive Granny!  Don’t ask the Evil Alien Lady questions like that!  Have I mentioned yet how worried I already am about the fate of this character?

4:17 – “It was covered up.  Something went wrong.  People got hurt.   So, they abolished witchcraft.”

The way they ordered the images in this particular 10-second sequence definitely made it seem as though Thomas Meade killed Cassie’s mom, so that she would be forced to return to Chance Harbor, and complete the “Circle.”  The question is “Why?”  What sort of spell does he want them to cast?

4:28 – “With Cassie here, our powers are magnified ten times over.”

Uh oh!  SOMEONE made it rain, but didn’t remember to bring her umbrella.  Not too swift.

The next sequence features a few images of Faye being “bad ass” with her “rain-making” powers.   I don’t know why they always do crap with the weather in these witch shows.  If I had witchy powers, I’d make myself a millionaire, who looked like a model, and force all hot male celebrities to fall instantly in love with me.  It’s called “creativity” witches.  It’s time you got some .  .  . And I mean that in more ways than one . . . 

We also see that Cassie’s Return has spurred an already restless Faye to more vigorously challenge Diana’s position of power within the Circle.  The problem is, with only six members, being the “leader” of the Circle doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal.  This is definitely a situation where having more “coven” members would have bolstered the plot.

4:45 – “My dear, sweet Cassie.  You finding this means I am gone, and for that I am so sorry.”

Speaking of cliches in supernatural stories . . . here comes the Mandatory, Mildly Touching, Plot Explanation Letter from an Important Dead Person in the Protagonist’s Life  . . . YAY!

4:57 – “It’s incredible.”

Oh, Hell to the NO!  Not another, Romantic Use of Magic Moment!  Where have I seen THIS before?

Oh, that’s right . . . EVERYWHERE!  And, then we have the Almost Kiss . . .

Now, THAT is what I call an appropriate use of your powers, Adam . . . the power to get into your not-girlfriend’s panties.  Well played, Stud . . . at least, until she LEFT YOUR ASS in the forest!

5:15 – “Bad things happen, when you mess with fate.”

And even WORSE things happen, when you mess with Evil-Eyed Thomas Meade, Random Guy!

5:29 – “I was a good friend of your mother’s (and by ‘good friend’ I mean ‘murderer’).”

I LOVE the twist that Evil Thomas Meade is actually GOOD WITCH Diana Meade’s DAD!  I genuinely didn’t see that one coming.  Except, I REALLY don’t think this guy is old enough to have an 17 or 18 year old daughter, do you?  Like I said . . . Witch Fountain of Youth. 

5:37 – “You did the right thing bringing her here.  She has the gift.”

A-HA!  I knew the Alien Principal and Evil-Eyed Meade were in CAHOOTS!  (Just so you know, “cahoots” is my new favorite word.  Except to see it a lot on this blog in the future . . . )

5:40 –

Awww, Nick is writing Cassie grammatically incorrect love letters from his window!  Next thing you know, he will be connecting two soup cans together, with pipe cleaners, and trying to use it as a cell phone.  Speaking of cell phones, doesn’t NICK have one?  I mean, he can’t CALL Cassie, and ASK her if she’s OK?  Talk about LAZY!

5:47 – “I don’t have to do a thing.  The Circle will take care of that without even knowing it.”

[Insert Evil Laugh Here]

OK.  So, how manyof you were actually fooled into thinking that Principal Chamberlain was a “nice lady?”  Yeah, I didn’t think so . . .

5:56 –  “Believe in the power of the Circle . . . You have incredible Power.  People will come for it.  They will come for YOU.”

“Make it stop.”  (My sentiments exactly, Cassie.  This trailer needs to STOP, before you spoil the entire first season . . . or, at least, the first episode.)

And so, we come to the point in our script, where Cassie finally embraces who she is, and uses her powers to stop that Freak Rainstorm that Faye made, earlier in the trailer.  Should we be happy, that Cassie is doing what Fate has seemingly intended for her to do?  Or do we fear that she is playing right into the hands of the Evil Adults? 

I guess you will have to WATCH this Fall to find out . . .

And there you have it, an extended preview of this falls new “hot” supernatural drama, The Secret Circle . . .

So, what did you think?  Will you stay tuned to the CW after TVD, and try this one out, for a “spell?”  Or do you plan to vanquish this series from your memory, forever?

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

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Create Your Dream Cast – Vampire Academy Series

A few months back, I became absolutely obsessed with a little book called The Hunger Games by groundbreaking author, Suzanne Collins.  Upon hearing that Lionsgate had purchased the film rights to the book, I decided it might be fun to create a sort of “dream cast,” of actors I would “hire” if I had the opportunity to do casting for the film.

Writing the post was a ton of fun for me.  Plus, a lot of people really seemed to respond to it. 

So, now it’s a few months later, and I find myself obsessed with a brand new Young Adult book series.   In many ways, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy is the anti-Twilight.  On the surface, yes, like that other series, Vampire Academy is about a girl in her late teens who is enmeshed in a world of supernatural creatures, most notably, vampires.  However, Rose Hathaway, the main protagonist who narrates the books, for lack of a better phrase, kicks ass!  She is a dhampir.  A half-human, half-vampire amalgamation, who is training to become a guardian of vampires.  That’s right, boys and girls, she protects vampires, as opposed to being protected by them! 

While these books definitely focus MORE on action and less on the romance, there are enough longing looks and steamy scenes in these novels to sate the desires of even the most sappy of romantics.  And don’t even get me started on these dhampir and vampire men . . .  (swoons and faints).

Even though there are currently no plans to convert the Vampire Academy books into a film or television series (SERIOUSLY?  What are you WAITING for, Hollywood?), I thought it might be fun to return to the casting couch, and select who I would cast in a hypothetical film or television show based on these books.  

I plan to try EXTREMELY hard not to inadvertently spoil any of the main plot points of these books, in the context of explaining my various “casting” decisions.  However, there ARE lots of jaw-dropping twists in this series, particularly in the first novel, that impacted my ultimate decisions as to which actors should play these characters.  So, if you are a MAJOR spoiler-phobe, please tread lightly.  And don’t say I didn’t warn you . . .

Rose Hathaway:

My pick: Nikki Reed

Why I think she’d make a great Rose:  In many ways, Rose is the toughest character to cast in this series.  After all, as the series’ protagonist and first-person narrator, her likeability and relatability will drive the entire story.  Rose is a fairly complex gal.   On one hand, she is tough-as-nails, extremely brave, and fiercely loyal.  However, she can also be prone to impulsive behavior, moodiness, icy sarcasm, and intense bouts of rage.  To top it off, at the start of the series, Rose is quite the popular party girl, one who has a reputation, whether deserved or not, for being “more than friendly” with many of the guys at her school.

In terms of Rose’s physical characteristics, Nikki Reed meets them to a tee!  In the novels, Rose is described as being of medium height, muscular, and slightly curvy (at least in the chest area).  She also has lightly tanned skin, dark eyes, and long dark brown hair.  Additionally, as an actress still in her very early 20’s, Nikki will have no trouble passing for a 17-18 year old girl, particularly one as mature beyond her years, as Rose.

Of course, ideal physical characteristics alone do not make a perfect casting choice.  Undoubtedly, many of you likely remember Nikki as the blond and beautiful, but slightly bitchy, Rosalie Hale in the Twilight series . . .

However, what you may not know is that Nikki Reed has been acting in films and writing screenplays LONG before Twilight was even written.  Nikki was not even 15-years old when she wrote, and starred, alongside Evan Rachel Wood, in the heartbreaking and highly disturbing film Thirteen, about two young teens who find themselves falling into an unforgiving world of drugs, crime and sex.  The film was critically acclaimed and even received an Oscar Nomination.

Aside from “looking” right for the part, I think Nikki Reed has the acting chops, intelligence, physicality, and natural sex appeal to pull off a role as multi-faceted as Rose Hathaway.

Lissa Dragomir

My pick: Julianne Hough

Why I think she’d make a great Lissa: In the novel, Rose’s best friend, the vampiric Lissa Dragomir, is described as being tall, thin, and pale-skinned, with blonde hair, and piercing green eyes.  In terms of personality, Lissa and Rose are almost polar opposites.  While Rose, is loud, and tough, and brash, Lissa, a descendant from a long line of royal vampires, is more reseved, a bit more fragile, and a lot more graceful and sophisticated.  She also excudes a certain innocence, and charisma (part natural, part magical) that draws others to her, making her extremely well liked at the Academy where she and Rose study.  On the other hand, whoever took on the role of Lissa, must be able to display intense emotionality, as certain things happen during the course of the series that cause Lissa to lose her characteristic cool.

Most people are familiar with Julianne from her role as a dancer on Dancing with the Stars

In that capacity, Julianne’s grace, innocence, likeability, and natural charisma practically leap of the screen.  The question is, “Can she act?” 

I would be inclined to say, “yes.”  Hough has already been slated to play the female lead, Ariel Moore, in the upcoming remake of the popular 80’s musical film, Footloose, which originally starred Kevin Bacon. 

 The role of Ariel in that film is a fairly meaty one, particularly for an actress making her big screen debut.  For the producers of the movie to cast Julianne in that role, she must have shown them something truly special at her audition.  If Julianne can pull off Ariel Moore, I have no doubt that she would also be able to pull off Lissa Dragomir.

Dimitri Belikov

My pick: Channing Tatum

Why I think he would make a great Dimitri: As Rose’s mentor, and main love interest throughout the series, 24-year old guardian, Dimitri Belikov is arguably the most important male role to cast in a film or television show based on this series.  In the books, he is described as being extremely tall, and impressively buff, with dark eyes and brown hair. 

Dimitri is basically every girl’s dream.  On one hand, he’s strong and amazingly tough.  He described as a “god” by many at the Academy.  And yet, he is also stern, secretive, and sensitive — a natural born-caretaker, one constantly torn between doing his job well and giving in to his desires.

Having starred in films like G.I. Joe and Step Up, we know that Channing Tatum has the physicality necessary for this role (And have you seen those abs?  WOW!).  Yet, Tatum has also had the opportunity to prove himself capable of taking on the role of romantic lead, as evidenced by his portrayal of John Tyree in the recently released chick flick, Dear John.  I’m just hoping he can fake a Russian accent . . .

Christian Ozera

My pick: Ed Westwick

Why I think he’d make a great Christian:  As Lissa’s main love interest throughout the series, Christian is probably the second most important male lead to cast.  The character is described as being tall and lean, with dark hair and pale skin.  Christian begins the series as a loner and an outsider, due to a questionable family history.  He has a dark sense of humor, a biting wit, and is not afraid to challenge authority.  Christian also can do very cool things with fire . . .

I chose Westwick, mainly because, aside from him being an amazing actor, I felt Christian’s relationship with Lissa, at least as it was portrayed in the first book in the series, dovetailed nicely with Westwick’s character Chuck’s relationship with Blair, during the early seasons of the CW series Gossip Girl.

In both relationships, the male lead is instantly sure of his feelings for the object of his desire, while the female will ultimately take a bit more convincing.   Like Chuck and Blair, Christian understands Lissa in a way that nobody else does, not even Rose.  To win her heart, he uses his intelligence and wit, as opposed to any sort of brute strength or macho bravado.  Christian’s and Lissa’s relationship has a fun, and undeniably sexy, push and pull, in its early stages, that I would love to see play out screen.  And who better to exemplify the “push and pull” of young love than Chuck Bass?

Mason Ashford

My pick: Douglas Smith

Why I think he’d make a great Mason:  As Rose’s best guy friend and fellow guardian, who just so happens to harbor a not-so-secret crush on Rose, Mason doesn’t play a particularly big part in the first book of the Vampire Academy series.  However, he DOES play a major role in Frostbite, its sequel.  In the books, Mason is described as being tall (Am I the only one noticing a pattern here?), and red-headed, with boyish good looks.  In casting Mason, it is important to find a guy who is likeable and fun enough, to function as a reasonable, if not exactly heart-stopping, alternative to Dimitri, to fulfill the role of Rose’s boyfriend.  Douglas Smith’s portrayal of Ben Henrickson in the HBO series Big Love is so genuine and inherently likeable, you almost want to reach through the screen and give him a hug.  Yeah, that’s our Mason!

Mia Rinaldi

My pick:  Ashley Benson

Why I think she’d make a great Mia: Every high school series needs a mean girl.  And, in the Vampire Academy series, those shoes are filled, at least initially, by Mia Rinaldi.  Rose’s and Lissa’s nemesis, Mia, is one year younger than they are.  She is described as being short (YAY!  FINALLY!  Short people represent . . . too bad it had to be the bitchy one . . .), with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a childlike cherubic face that belies her catty and manipulative nature.  And yet, there is also a vulnerability to Mia.  Behind that cold facade, Mia hides a few dark secrets, ones that make her actions, if not necessarily justifiable, at least understandable.

Best known for her role as Carson in the fourth installment of the Bring it On film series, and for her upcoming turn as Hanna in the new ABC Family teen drama, Pretty Little Liars, premiering this summer, Ashley has plenty of experience playing the girl you love to hate.  And yet, there is always a soft-side to her portrayals — one that allows the “love” part to dominate just a bit more than it would otherwise . . .

Natalie Dashkov

My pick: Tina Majorino

Why I think she would make a great Natalie: In Vampire Academy, Natalie is more or less described as a plain-jane.  Natalie is the quiet, sweet, and socially awkward friend of Rose’s and Lissa’s.  Unlike the others, she seems to care little about the politics of high school.  The actress who plays Natalie must be sweet and inherently likeable, but have sufficient acting chops to pull off a major dramatic turn toward the end of the first installment of the series.  Majorino’s recent portrayals of Heather in Big Love and Mack in Veronica Mars, have shown her to be precisely the right girl for the job.

Jesse Zeklos

My pick: Michael Trevino

Why I think he’d make a great Jesse:  In the novels, Jesse is described as being a tall, dark, and handsome, spoiled rich kid.  He is popular, D-baggy, manipulative, and rumored to have slept with multiple members of the cast.  Now if that doesn’t SCREAM Tyler Stratton from CW’s The Vampire Diaries, I don’t know WHAT does!

Eddie Castile

My pick: Chris Lowell

Why I think he’d make a great Eddie:  Admittedly, at the start of the series, Eddie is little more than Mason’s friend and sidekick, and, therefore, a sort-of adopted member of the novels’ “Scooby Gang.”  However, by the second and third installment of the series, Eddie comes into his own, as a loyal friend and strong protector of those around him.  In casting Eddie, the producers would need someone relatable, who has a sense of humor, and isn’t afraid of getting knocked around a bit (and bitten?).  Seeing as Chris Lowell’s character Dell on Private Practice recently died of a brain hemorrhage, I’m thinking the actor’s schedule is WIDE open . . .

Adrian Ivashkov

My pick: Jason Dohring

Why I think he’d make a great Adrian:  OK, this is sort of cheating, seeing as Adrian doesn’t appear AT ALL in the first book of the series.  However, the character plays such a major role in the subsequent books, I just couldn’t resist trying my hand at casting him.  The novel describes Adrian as tall and fair haired with penetrating eyes that see EVERYTHING.  He is more muscularly built than most vampires, but leaner than super-buff dhampirs, like Dimitri.  At first glance, 21-year old Adrian might appear to the casual reader as just another spoiled rich vampire — a hard drinking, heavy smoking, womanizing, cad, with too much money and time on his hands. 

However, as we get to know Adrian throughout the series, we see that he is much more than that.  He is smart and often scarily perceptive, instantly knowing things about Rose that she might not even understand about herself.  Adrian can also be surprisingly generous with his money, his time, and his soul.  He quickly develops a friendship with Lissa, and harbors an as-of-yet unrequited MAJOR soft-spot for Rose.  More so than Mason, Adrian could wind up being a major contender in the battle for our main protagonist’s heart.

So why Jason Dohring?   Basically, a few years back, I fell in LOVE with a character by the name of Logan Echolls!  On Veronica Mars, he too was a spoiled womanizing rich kid bad boy.  Or, at least, he started off that way.  That was before he fell in love with Veronica Mars, who like Rose, was a kickass, hardcore, take-no-prisoners, protagonist, who began the series, despising Logan. 

In my opinion, Veronica’s and Logan’s relationship remains one of the hottest and most compulsively watchable couplings in television.  Please forgive me for wanting to see my Logan again, even if it has to be with another leading lady . . .

So, there you have it, my Dream Cast for the Vampire Academy film and/or television series.  Now we just have to find someone willing to buy the media rights . . . Any takers?

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