Jowett, L. (2010) Kitchen sink vampires? Being Human and the British TV tradition. Paper presented to: Vegetarians, VILFs and Fang-Bangers: Modern Vampire Romance in Print and on Screen, De Montfort University, Leicester, 24 November 2010.
John Mitchell is a typical reluctant vampire, darkly attractive and just a little bit tortured. But do reluctant vampires typically enjoy a night in watching The Real Hustle with their housemate in a Bristol end-of-terrace? Being Human (BBC3, 2008-) shapes Mitchell’s character according to traditions of British TV drama, offering a new direction for this icon. In contrast to the excesses of traditional vampire stories or recent American TV like HBO’s True Blood, Mitchell is the product of another recognisable trend that reworks the vampire through understatement and realism, juxtaposing the mundane and the fantastic. Being Human combines the supernatural with the everyday aesthetically as well as thematically, developing George Romero’s cinematic flat mundanity (as in Martin, 1977), but also (like the John Constantine: Hellblazer comics) combining the apparently antithetical British traditions of Gothic horror and social realism, resulting in what we might call Kitchen Sink Gothic. This paper will analyse how Being Human negotiates familiar vampire plots and tropes (romance and sexuality, addiction, power, alienation, monstrosity) in a highly contemporary fashion that revitalises both realism and fantasy by being not quite a sitcom, not quite a relationship drama, and not quite horror