TV Review: AMC Interview with the Vampire Episodes 1-5

Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and Louis de Pointe (Jacob Anderson)

I enjoyed the film Interview with the Vampire (1994), adapted from Anne Rice’s novel, so I was intrigued to hear that there would be a televison adaptation. I also heard that the televison show makes the relationship between Louis and Lestat explictly romantic whereas in the book and film it was more subtextual. I was interested to see what moving beyond subtext in Louis and Lestat’s relationship would add to the story.

Ultimately, I’m not sure that it did add much to the story. Louis and Lestat did have sex in the first episode, and Louis says to his interviewer that he’s gay. But the interviewer astutely points out that this interview of a gay vampire, who has killed people with his boyfriend isn’t exactly the best gay representation. On the other hand, must LGBTQ+ characters be moral? After all, real life queer people aren’t necessarily more moral than cishet people. And sometimes morally gray characters can be more interesting. I also had issues with how present the interviewer was in the show itself. He was only around in the beginning and end of the film version of Interview with the Vampire. In the show, he interjects frequently, which is distracting. It’s like he’s breaking the fourth wall, except for that technically he isn’t. The story is an interview, and we know that. Its literally the title. But I still would prefer to be more immersed in the story without constant interupption.

Still, I don’t think Louis and Lestat being explicitly LBGTQ+ (gay and bisexual respectively) is the most interesting part of the show. Rather I think Louis being Black in the show, when he was originally a White slavemaster in the book and film, is the more compelling. Louis although affluent does have to deal with a lot of racism, as the show begins in1910’s New Orleans. When Louis first meets Lestat, Lestat questions his presence at the club, as it would typically only allow white people. Louis is offended, but Lestat explains that he meant no offense. Lestat says that he is French and unused to the racism of the U.S. Louis has to pretend to be Lestat’s valet when they travel Europe together. They have to hide their relationship both because being queer, but also because of being an interracial relationship.

Lestat’s whiteness also gives him power over Louis. He claims to abhore racism, but he clearly doesn’t understand when Louis gets upset over racism. He also does seem enjoy having more power than Louis. In the trailer for episode 6, their adoptive daughter Claudia, who is Black, says that she and Louis, are Lestat’s slaves.

Interview with the Vampire is less a depiction of LGBTQ+ relationships, as it one of abusive relationships. And the thing is, I get it. Lestat is seductive, with his long blond hair, his French accent, and his luxurious lifestyle. I can understand being taken in by him, especially because he often knows just the right thing to say when Louis is angry at him. It’s fascinating, this exploration of toxic relationships couched in supernatural horror and the lushness of Louisiana. It’s like a carwreck that you ghoulishly can’t look away from.

Aesthetically, the show is what I wished the lesbian vampire show First Kill was. I know First Kill has a modern setting, so I understand the aesthetic being less gothic than Interview with the Vampire. But as a vampire show set in the Deep South, I think First Kill could have tried harder to embrace the Southern Gothic aesthetic. If you are looking for that aesthetic, I’d recommend Interview with the Vampire.

I would recommend AMC’s Interview with the Vampire episodes 1-5 over all. Just be forewarned, it’s not here to be relatable or wholesome LBGTQ+ represention. The show is dark. Really dark. Suicide sexual assualt, and lots of violence, are all are part of the plot. (The sexual assualt is not shown onscreen, merely implied.) I think that this darkness makes the show good to watch in the fall, when you’re looking for a show that matches the darkness of the season. Yes, the interviewer is annoying, but just try to bear with that and I think you’ll find the show interesting.

Interview with the Vampire. Sam Reid, Jacob Anderson, Bailey Bass, and Eric Bogosian. AMC Studios. AMC and AMC+.