The Heart of the Matter – Vampire Academy Means Something to Us

Content by Lena Mauveaux

So here’s a little thread about our silly little vampire show, and why it’s about so much more than that. You’d think at 26, I’d be used to this and able to distance myself from cancellations, but the truth is, I’m pissed.

So let me tell you all about it, the why, the how, and everything in between. For a lot of us, #VampireAcademy was a second chance. You’re dealing with a built-in fandom, somehow split, it’s true; but a fandom all the same that has been dedicated to a story of two powerful women. Women coming together and putting each other first despite everything in a world that is so ruled by men and the patriarchy that the only way to survive for us, women and non-binaries, is sisterhood and companionship by supporting each other.

Lissa and Rose’s story is just that; how coming together makes us stronger, and how with enough determination, anything can happen.

It’s not a perfect story, nothing ever is; but for many of us it’s a story that fifteen years ago introduced us to concepts that have since been in orbit in bigger, more important ways. How can you not look at Vampire Academy and see the discourse about social class, about the ethics of duty, and how mental health is both your greatest enemy and most amazing strength if you learn to find the right people to get you through it all?

From the get-go, this has been a deeply international, diverse platform. In the climate of #BlackLivesMatter & the disaster that is #BuryYourGays, you’ll find many people in this fandom that have been fighting to finally get the representation they so desperately craved and needed; and they’ve thrown their whole weight behind supporting the PoC Leads and the queer actors and characters we’ve been gifted with.

If you think this #SaveVampireAcademy campaign is about getting the end of a story only, you couldn’t be more wrong. Do we want to know what happened to characters we’ve grown to love, and see the closure of storylines that sparked our interest? Of course.

But first and foremost, this is a war cry from a community that has been hurt time and time again and that, in recent weeks, has been kicked to the curb.

The beauty of #VampireAcademy is that it allowed us to escape the world while still fighting it and processing our thoughts about it. Hot, sexy vampires and sweet friendships? Sure. But it also allowed us to explore problems that were dear to us: the differences in the luck of the draw of where and when you are born that lead you to lives that are more or less privileged, the sentiment of inadequacy for wanting things people are trying to tell you you don’t deserve, be it because of your social status, sexual orientation, was done for this show. What were they trying to do? Bury a story that shines importance on the way the world’s broken and offers hope as to how we can change that?

This is not to say we didn’t have our reservations, but for a large part of the fandom, once the show was out, we were off to the races. To be told there’s no audience when the tag was trending on VA Thursdays and throughout the weekend, and then again a month later, and then some more during the press panels last week and finally right now – less than 24 hours after the announcement, mind you – is simply a lie. The show was not allowed to grow into its potential, in particular when it comes to territories outside the US. In France, it’s been in the top 10 of Amazon Prime for a month. Peacock is particularly obscure when it comes to such results and numbers, but we’ve known thanks to other streamers that the show has been solid, and it was only its first season, and a short one as well. Remember back when TVD happened? That would not have survived either if people hadn’t given time for things to grow. Growth can only come with patience, but in a world ruled by what makes money, it seems we are willing to sacrifice stories with themes that could make or break the society we live in. This is a show for teenagers and twenty-somethings. Just like the show, we needed time to grow, and this community has been a safe haven for that.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a tighter, stronger community. We’ve all been such friends from the beginning, and have reckoned expectations with fun things such as @va_jail and half a million other accounts that kept the attention on the show, @smolsdarklightr ‘s coining of the “Strigitri” name, and not one but two fan podcasts in addition to the official one @goditripoditri & @vaboundpod. (By the way, @PenguinTeen‘s We Are YA, you’re up to help out?)

But this has also been a community that because it is made up of a very diverse group of people has managed to be stronger than the sum of all of its parts and discuss together in order to learn from one another and use the show as an engine for change.

I can only recommend reading @dhampirwomen threads, in particular regarding BIPOC in the show. I’ve learned more from them in a day than from Wikipedia in 26 years, and I love Wikipedia. I’ll happily link said threads if anyone would like me to.

As a group, we have tried to fight the racist attacks that were set out from the beginning against the show for having PoC leads, and tried to change the tanking of the reviews. Ash goes pretty deep into that subject and is much better placed and more eloquent than I ever could be, and so it disheartens me to see the show canceled because it’s giving these people the last word. They’re winning. In 2023, racists and homophobes are winning. I can’t fathom that. My mind just can’t wrap itself around it.