Hi folks. I’m possibly about 10 years late on this, but I have some feelings I’d like to express.
There’s a Twilight revival happening on Tumblr, so I feel like now, if ever, is my chance. If you’re one of the many millennials like me who got sucked into the vampire fiction craze of the early-mid 2000s, it’s a fair bet you may have watched The Vampire Diaries. If you haven’t tuned out yet like “nah I never got into that lame shit” and instead are like "YASSS, I LIVED FOR OBJECTIVELY SHITTY SUPERNATURAL TEEN DRAMA AND VAMPIRE DIARIES WAS MY JAM," then I invite you to read on for four reasons I believe Elena’s character was one of the worst characters on the show (and possibly on all television? Would I be reaching here?). If you feel strongly enough about it, you can hit me up and tear my opinion apart or join me in my simmering hatred. #ImNotWithElena
Now, to start, I’m not saying she is the ONLY terrible character on the whole show, we can't forget Matt Donovan (vom) and Jeremy Gilbert (emo snoooooze). I am also certainly not impugning Nina Dobrev’s acting. I actually love Nina. Katherine is my dude. I think she handled the material she was given really well, actually. I’ve been a fan since Degrassi. So don’t mistake this Elena hate for Nina hate, because they’re not mutually inclusive.
Now onto why I’m not a fan of Elena Gilbert and would 1000% never want to be her friend irl:
1. She’s so fucking boring.
Honestly, the ONLY remotely interesting things that happen in Elena's life are happening TO her, not because of her. Could she exist as a standalone character in say, Gossip Girl? No. She’s flat. Old soda. If she didn’t happen to be a doppelgänger, she would be more boring than even the most boring people in our day-to-day lives. Her only defining feature is that she’s constantly the object of way more interesting characters’ desires. Meh. More on this later.
2. She’s a teenage morality policewoman.
This 16 year old girl absolutely loves going around telling 100+ year old vampires how they should be living their lives. I get it from a narrative perspective because it made Damon a “better” person, or whatever, but the way she requires everyone around her to hide or suppress aspects of themselves would make her a toxic asf friend in real life. Imagine talking to her about some real shit and she just always says, “that’s not you." Like, ELENA, THAT IS ME. I’M JUST CONSTANTLY WORKING ON IT. I DON’T NEED YOUR RELENTLESS JUDGMENT WHILE I’M FIGURING MY SHIT OUT. Jeeze.
3. She has AWFUL plans and constantly puts everyone in her life in danger.
Like for real has anyone in TVD not died or been sent to a prison realm at least once because of something that Elena directly or indirectly did? I know she can’t always help it because she’s the doppelgänger, blah blah blah, but come ON, Elena. Make better choices. If she truly wanted to protect her loved ones while still enjoying the vampiric life, she should have taken her vamp-boos and gone up to Greenland or something. I’m available for chats concerning how many of the deaths in this show were her fault due to her shitty-ass, reckless teenage decisions (which would be more excusable if she wasn’t so damn righteous about it).
Like what is her moral compass, really? How many times can Damon murder people she cares about and she gets mad for an episode and a half and then is like, "eh, things happen I guess?" You can’t claim the high ground if you chill HARD with a dude who admitted that he snapped your brother's neck just because you made him a lil' mad. I know he’s beyond hot and all, but c’mon. I wouldn’t be her friend simply because she chills with people who, if I said the wrong thing around, would kill me in two seconds and Elena would be over it in a few days. My body would be at the bottom of a ravine and IF it was ever found it would be covered up as a tragic drunken tumble in the forest. No thanks, Elena, no thanks.
4. She's the worst vampire.
Now here’s my biggest complaint with her. Elena is in LITERALLY the best possible universe to be a vampire. These bad boys have it made. They can go in the sun, they can control peoples’ minds, they’re all dead sexy (forgive the pun) and they can enjoy visceral human pleasures that most vampires in other universes can’t. Yet, Elena still can’t hack it. It just makes no sense. The writers do the whole “she can’t bear harming humans” bit but, honestly, I don’t buy it. It implies that she’s morally superior to every other character in the universe and yet I have never seen her do anything as selfless as some of the "morally inferior" characters have done. I’m cancelling her on this because if I could be any fantasy character in any world, I’d be a vampire in this one and she just. doesn’t. appreciate. it. I feel the same resentment towards her that I do towards online streaming for shutting down Blockbuster before I was old enough to work there.
In conclusion, Elena is the worst. But is it Elena's fault that she sucks? Or is it the fault of a team of writers who refused to write a self-actualized female lead? The faults I've described in Elena turn out to not to be problem with the character herself, but with those who wrote a flat, soulless, "pretty" girl to exist simply as the object of desire for more interesting, dynamically-written male characters. When we look deeper, we see that her purpose in the TVD is to be attractive and desired, to be a source of emotional "development" for the men in her life, and to make mistakes for others to fix. On top of all of this, she doesn't even get to enjoy being a vampire. Instead, the writers froze her character development in her morality-compass stage in order to maintain a foil for the older, more interesting vampires who are "bad." Eye roll.
I love Vampire Diaries. I want to live in the world of Vampire Diaries. But Elena's character highlights an issue with the show and many other teen (and adult) dramas that create female leads to be used primarily as tools for the stories and development of male characters.
So I have to change my stance from, #ImNotWithElena to #ElenaDeservedBetter. Because Elena did deserve better. So did Bella, Sookie, and countless other female characters whose ability to be desired by vampires, and men in general, became their defining feature.