Peacock has driven a stake into the hearts of ‘Vampire Academy’ fans.
The cancellation reaper has claimed another victim, and unsurprisingly its latest victim is yet another series featuring a diverse cast, strong female leads, and queer representation. It may be hard to believe, but this time it isn’t Netflix jumping the gun and cancelling another series—this time it’s Peacock driving a stake straight into the hearts of Vampire Academy fans.
Based on Richelle Mead’s beloved book series, Vampire Diaries alums Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre brought a fresh new approach to the world of moroi, dhampirs, and strigoi. They recognized that their audience was no longer the teenagers that read the book series fifteen years ago, so they leaned into the political intrigue of the royal court and delivered the kind of complicated, sensual romance that all of these characters deserved. But most of all, they recognized that a world of magic and vampires couldn’t just be straight and white.
From the moment that Sisi Stringer and Daniela Nieves appeared on the screen, they simply became Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir. Their performances made it so easy to forget the models that graced the covers, the fancasts over the years, or the film that preceded the series. In the books, both characters were white, but in the series fans finally got to see themselves in the characters—and in a genre that has largely centered around white stories. How many supernatural series have been led by Black and Latina women? In a long line of Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Elena Gilberts (Nina Dobrev), Vampire Academy let BIPOC fans see themselves as kickass heroines—and deliciously bad girls like Tatiana Vogel (Anita-Joy Uwajeh).
There may be plenty of interracial relationships across television series, but there are far fewer interracial relationships that involve two non-white characters. With Vampire Academy, fans were treated to Rose’s messy romance with Mason Ashford (Andrew Liner), Lissa’s sweet and complicated relationship with Christian Ozera (André Dae Kim), and the marriage of Victor Dashkov (J. August Richards) and Robert Karp (Cornelius Macarthy). Two of these relationships involved the series’ leads, and the latter wasn’t just an afterthought—it was given depth and conflict. The first season also gave wing to a sapphic romance between Mia Karp (Mia McKenna-Bruce) and Meredith Beckham (Rhian Blundell). It feels weird to reduce a series to the representation it brings to the screen, but it seems like something that needs to be discussed when streamers keep cancelling series that are led by women of color and prominently feature queer relationships.
Beyond the breath of fresh air that is the diversity and inclusion that Vampire Academy brought fans, the cast delivered some truly unforgettable performances. Particularly Kieron Moore, who brought so much depth and nuance to Dimitri Belikov. Yes, he’s a very pretty face to look at (I mean, have you seen this entire cast!?) and his chemistry with Stringer burned even hotter than the Rose/Dimitri romance in the novels, but it was the quiet moments that lingered long after the finale. And the best was yet to come! It’s a tragedy that Peacock has robbed him of his fangs, and denied audiences the chance to see him become Strigoi.
Though Plec and MacIntyre saw fit to rearrange some aspects of the story—delivering a much more tragic romance between Sonya Karp (Jonetta Kaiser) and Mikhail Tanner (Max Parker)—every single member of the cast delivered 110%, and the fans were so grateful for their performances. It doesn’t matter if somewhere, down the line, someone else tries to adapt the series—this cast is the cast. There will be no one who does these roles better.