You remember the Wishverse episode of Buffy where Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, and so Anya sends her to an alternate universe version of the town where that was true, only it meant vampires had totally taken over the town and humans lived in fear and based their lives around staying safe? Also how Wynonna Earp can kill demons because she’s the Heir and inherited her superpower from a long line of Earps? But also how in The Walking Dead it’s post-apolyptic-y and very gory? Van Helsing looks like it could be all that served up in a blender, and I’m super excited.
There seem to be two networks in the US really focusing on genre TV at this moment in time, genre being sic fi, fantasy, horror, and the adjacent goodness, the CW, and Syfy. Of the two, Syfy is where I tend to turn when I need a good, complex (and frequently Canadian) heroine. In recent years they’ve given me the women of Defiance, the titular Ms Earp along with her Wayhaught compatriots, Dutch, Pawter, and a smattering of others on Killjoys, and of course imported Lost Girl’s fem heavy world straight into my heart. So now they’re about to introduce a new heroine, Vanessa Van Helsing played by Kelly Overton.
Vanessa is a descendent of Dracula’s Abraham Van Helsing, and in the series she wakes up from a coma after 5 years, only to come to in a world overtaken by vampires. Her goal is to find her daughter, but along the way she discovers that she has one of those classic superhero gift-ish curse-isn problems, her blood, and so far as we know, her blood alone, can turn vampires human. Which seems to add another goal to her list, find daughter, save world, oh, and a third as well, stay alive, since this gifty curse means she’s vampire public enemy number one.
We’ve got a pretty dude heavy main cast supporting Vanessa, which tends to rub my lady loving soul the wrong way (exceptional girls aren’t realistic or relatable, every truly badass lady outgrows the ‘too cool for other chicks’ thing by her HS graduation at the latest) BUT I had that same apprehensive itch going into Killjoys and grew to love it, so I’m mostly holding my judgement.
Amongst all the testosterone we do have some other ladies, and the one I’m most excited to see is Doc, played by Rukiya Bernard. Doc was a talented scientist. Now she’s a vampire. The Syfy blurb on the character describes human Doc as brilliant but socially awkward. It’s a bit of a tired trope for a scientist character for sure, but it’s not one we’ve gotten to see black actors play much, especially a black woman, and you toss in that she’s dealing with this whole vampire thing to boot and I’m all in on this one.
Another character I’m looking forward to is Christopher Heyerdahl’s character Sam, one of the survivors. First because he’s Christopher effing Heyerdahl and he’s been in damn near everything and the man is a legend, BUT also because Sam will be deaf, and though it would be great if characters with disabilities were always played by actors with disabilities, we’re at a time where characters with disabilities are so rare that I look forward to any representation, and I think there’s just so much you can do showing a character with a disability surviving in this sort of setting, and it could be so, excuse me for this overused word, but empowering, to see this, the same way I feel way more like I can face my depression and get on with my life when I see Buffy dealing with her PTSD.
I know from doing a bit of the ol’ googling that we’re going to have a few different types of vamps in the show, and I’m ok with that to an extent, I tilt toward being a vampire purist and I’m still pissed for all the ways Supernatural deviated from traditional vampire myth (yeah maybe I did read Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite and write poems about darkness in junior high, so what, you don’t know me) but maybe we can only deviate a little here and you know, maybe daywalkers but stakes still work? I could deal with that. I really can’t handle vamps you can’t stake, that’s not ok.
Oh also, the vamps totally rose because environmental disasters. So I hope you’re all recycling.
Anyway, so yeah, Vanessa wakes up, ends up with a group of survivors, wants to find her daughter, but is the only one who can save the world. All of that is right up my urban fantasy lady loving alley. Syfy has done me right with badass heroines in recent history so I’m amped. Let there be fangs, babes.
There was a sneak peak of the pilot after the most recent Sharknado movie this summer, but I missed it, because I did.
About the Author: Jay Jaqobis is sometimes Jessi Bow Spence and frequently just Jessi but also sometimes Jay and will respond to any of the above, and also “Hey, you with the face.” Ze lives in the midwest with a cis dude spouse and the world’s greatest dog and does a mean impression of a housewife while battling agoraphobia and general bouts of ennui. Ze cofounded GenreTVForAll and wrote a chapter on Teenage Girls with Superpowers for the Geekiary’s e-book. Ze likes vegan food, pictures of shih tzus, and long naps. You can find zir on twitter and instagram.