Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Before I start reviewing the first half of the first season of Legacies, the newest incarnation of the Julie Plec universe initially showcased in The Vampire Diaries, I feel like I need to disclose a couple of my biases. First - I’m super, probably too much, into the universe that this show exists in. I have rewatched Legacies’ predecessors (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals) more times than I would care admit. So I had preconceived expectations and feelings about these characters before the first episode even aired.
Bias #2: I think The Originals, Plec’s second incarnation of the Vampire Diaries universe, was one of the best shows the CW has ever put out. It had a badass queer lady witch who married a badass queer lady werewolf. It also had strong writing (by CW standards at least, we’re all just there for a good time amirite) and good performances (again, I’m not saying the CW is HBO quality or anything but this is up there with Gossip Girl imo) by seasoned actors who are much older than those in Legacies, and that’s not the newer show’s fault. But, considering it premiered so soon after the end of The Originals, it was very hard for me to watch with clear eyes.
So, if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m disappointed by what I’ve seen of Legacies so far. Legacies is far less melodramatic (which, for me, is a downer) than its predecessors and like I said, its cast is far younger and less experienced. I’d actually really love to hear from people who either have never seen TVD/TO and watch Legacies or folks who have seen the predecessors but really enjoy Legacies, because I just don’t right now. I do, though, think that I can see where it COULD get really good. But first, the bad:
Out of all the iffy and dull characters throughout the eight, sometimes arduous to watch, seasons of Vampire Diaries, whyyyyy did they have to cast Alaric as a main character of Legacies? Even if you like him from the olden TVD days, he hogs way too much of the spotlight from the teenage characters who could really benefit from that extra screen time to develop their narratives. And to top that off, they also kept MATT FREAKING DONOVAN, who has to be one of the most boring characters ever written, and also Jeremy? I guess I could get over this once Caroline inevitably comes back, but for now I’m just like *sheesh* for a show with all this cool, young, queer energy, why bring back some of the most boring, now old, straight cis white human dudes to basically be universe anchors? We already have Hope, we don’t need this unholy trinity of boring mortals making cameos and gumming up the supernatural works. If anything give me Freya and Keelin cameos, plzzzz.
I’m also not really sure how I feel about the monster-of-the-week formula they have going on right now. There IS a broader overarching story line with the Malivore and Landon, but I’m just not excited to see what creature appears in each new episode (although I did love the Necromancer, he was hilarious). It almost reminds me of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (which I also thought was disappointing) in that it’s vastly more episodic than what I’m accustomed to in this type of world. Again, this could just be my preference. My partner thinks the mythology of the Legacies world is really cool and genuinely likes it much better than Vampire Diaries, so what do I know. I think I just want a little more character development outside of seeing how these supernatural kids react to external stimuli in the form of dragons, magic trees, etc.
Speaking of Landon, the romance between Landon and Hope just really isn’t cutting it for me. And it’s not just because they’re not queer. I don’t see the chemistry. That’s all I have to say about that.
Last thing that really doesn’t click for me is WHY ON EARTH vampires would bother staying in a school like the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young & Gifted. They tried to address it with MG seemingly benefiting from the school rules since he, apparently, has the Stefan Salvatore trademarked ripper gene, but I still am not getting it. Why on Earth would a vampire in this world, where vampires don’t suffer from a lot of the constraints and harsh rules like they do in a universe like True Blood, allow themselves to be restricted by a human headmaster and made to only drink bunny blood? I can see MG being there to keep his ripper tendencies in check, but why Kaleb and the rest of them? It makes sense for the werewolves and the witches to be in there (although still not totally sold on the werewolves tbh) but not the vampires. They must be there voluntarily, because who can control a vampire through any non-cruel means? So...why? #eatsnatcherase
Now, THE GOOD (or at least, what I see as promising and also THE QUEER):
Within the first 15 minutes, we’ve got two main characters with queer identities, Penelope and Josie, AND they seem like they could end up being two of the coolest characters on the show. The switch from Penelope being characterized as an evil heart breaker to being a real person who broke up with Josie because the latter wasn’t fully present in their relationship was well done and relatable. It’s in Plec’s playbook to turn a character initially thought of as “bad” into one of the series’ focal points, so I’m excited to see where this one goes. Josie seems super fluid in her sexuality given her apparent affinity for Raf, so that’s cool too. It’s really refreshing to finally have some queer characters right out the gate in one of these shows. The Originals gave us Josh, but made us wait a while to give him a romantic story line. Legacies just came right out and did the dang thing. More, please.
Second, the Gemini coven story line. I like where this could be going. If you’ve seen The Vampire Diaries you’ll know a lot about what (hopefully) non-Malivore related challenge could be in store for Josie and Lizzie. If you haven’t, it’ll be a lot of fun so I’m going to say no more.
Also, Hope. I love Hope Mikaelson. I think she’s probably the best actress on the show at the moment. I just hope they give her some good material coming up. The whole necromancer trip into her subconscious was a good start. I just want her to be happy tbh, she’s been through a lot. I just am so so bored every time she’s on screen with Landon. I need a new love interest for her. Then I’m all in.
I actually do think I do see a lot of potential in Legacies, it’s just not compelling for me yet. I’m going to certainly keep watching though, if just for the brewing queer love. I’ve also got a lot of optimism that the young actors will grow in these roles and end up being really convincing and great. The cast is diverse, seemingly eager and clearly talented, they just seem a little inexperienced. But I’m a patient person and I’m down to stick with it. I’d go so far as to recommend the show despite my complaints, especially to those who’ve enjoyed Plec’s other shows because (as usual with Plec's works) it’s, at the very least, fun.
Midseason rating: 6.5/10