On The Vampire Diaries

Dear Diary . . .

By Karen Mahoney

Ah, diaries . . . repositories for our innermost thoughts and most private dreams. In literature throughout the ages, diaries have allowed us to get closer than ever to characters we seek to know better. A sneaky peek at someone’s journal equals a window right into his or her heart and soul; dark secrets are often revealed. We love the confessional aspect–especially, it seems, when it includes teen angst and tales of paranormal love.

But a diary is a written format. Sure, journal entries have been a common storytelling device used in fiction throughout the years, but on TV? How does that translate? Putting aside the original books written by L.J. Smith, how exactly does a TV show like The Vampire Diaries bring a character’s diary successfully to the screen and make it (a) work within the confines of a visual medium and (b) retain relevancy to the ongoing storylines?

The answer, at least to the first part of that question, lies in the extensive use of voiceovers.

I don’t think I can be blamed for going into the first episode assuming that the focal point for viewers would be our heroine, Elena Gilbert. She is the viewpoint character; the bereaved 17-year-old girl that the audience must empathize with and relate to as the story progresses. After all, a lot of the pre-publicity for the show focused on similarities between the Twilight franchise and The Vampire Diaries. Just as Bella is at the center of Twilight, so  …

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