The Perfect Binge #2: AMC’s Interview With the Vampire

Before streaming channels like Netflix even existed,  cable television was the nexus of what has been called the “golden age of television” during the early aughts and 2010s. I loved standout dramas like Lost, Heroes, Sons of Anarchy, True Blood, and Game of Thrones, which helped define the phrase “event television.” These dramas brought a new level of production value to the television format, and to genres like romance, crime drama, fantasy, and sci fi, which had rarely gotten the “prestige drama” treatment on the small screen before. Streamers upped the ante, and now it is possible to watch well-produced dramas at any hour of the day one wishes, from the same networks that launched the television revolution over a decade ago. Into this exciting environment of television history AMC recently launched its adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire. I recently watched, immensely enjoyed, and now recommend the series as my second “Perfect Binge.”

Vampires: A Life Long Love

Confession time: I’m a Millenial. Us Millenials have a love affair with the decade in which we were small children, the 90s. I mean, come on: we brought high waisted jeans back in style! Growing up, we were watching Generation X in awe, taking notes and waiting our turn. I can just barely remember the premier of the Neil Jordan-directed film adaptation of “Interview With the Vampire”, quite a cause celebre since two of the era’s most popular film heartthrobs, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, were playing the lead roles of Louis de Pointe du Lac the reluctant vampire and his erratic but charming master, Lestat de Lioncourt.

However, the Vampire Chronicles didn’t really become a part of my life until my tweens, with the adaptation of the third book in the series, Queen of the Damned. One thing that movie does do well is tap into the zeitgeist of the time, grounding Lestat’s rock star days in the music that was popular at the time of the film’s release, like KORN and Disturbed. If Lestat had awoken in 2002 and enthralled a teenage audience with his rock music, then it would indeed have been kids wearing Hot Topic clothes and listening to Nu Metal, like myself and my school friends. Stuart Townsend’s mysterious swagger in the role soon made him a heartthrob amongst the metal goth set I ran with in school, and despite its flaws that film will always have a place in my heart as a snapshot of an era.

The first time I read Interview With the Vampire, I was captivated by the pathos of the hero, the immersive descriptiveness of the plot, the suspense and horror and originality. I became a devotee of Anne Rice’s novel.

Finding the Heart of the Vampire Chronicles

Executive produced by Rice (before her 2022 passing)  and her son, novelist Christopher Rice, with Rolin Jones serving as head writer, the 2022 television show captures the heart of the series like no adaptation before it. That is probably because, as a series, it has more time and space to go deep and take its time exploring the material than a two hour film. The characters of the Vampire Chronicles are so intriguing, otherworldly and glamorous but relatable because of the 

universal human emotions that co-exist within them alongside fabulous preternatural abilities. 

Louis and Lestat

We meet Louis and Lestat, this time, in the early 20th century, and rather than a planter with a lavish plantation Louis is from a well-to-do Creole family that has fallen on hard times, leading him to open brothels in the New Orleans red light district, Storyville. The district is a study in contradictions: a place where the city’s most powerful men dally secretly in vice, where political decisions and  business transactions are secretly brokered over games of cards, where women, people of color, and immigrants who are denied power in the city can build influential roles, of a sort, albeit in the socially frowned-upon sex trade. 

Naturally, Louis, who is already wearing a lot of hats as the keeper of a brothel and the breadwinner of his family, who is dealing in the sex trade but has to keep enough of a veneer of respectability to be able to greet the neighborhood priest on sight, has developed different masks to maintain this life of disparate threads. Lestat secretly observes a frustrated Louis in an altercation with his mentally ill brother, Paul, and is intrigued by his hot temper and hidden depths. Lestat and Louis strike up a friendship, which is a rarity for Louis. Perhaps because he is maintaining so many identities and responsibilities, Louis doesn’t let people in much.

As for Lestat, most viewers will probably come to the series knowing his backstory, one of contradictions as well: he was born into nobility, but grew up impoverished; he found success and fulfillment as an actor in 18th century France just before the revolution, but was ripped out of mortal life and made a vampire against his will. Despite this, he thrives in the supernatural powers of a vampire, but is lonely for a companion. Louis’s and Lestat’s bond is a complicated one, and a legendary love story that has broken ground and cemented its place in many hearts over the decades since the novel’s publication.

The AMC series captures the chemistry, born of stark differences as much as the bond of kindred spirits, that draws them together and tears them apart, and later puts their “daughter” Claudia tragically in the middle.  Louis is attached to  his mortal identity and memories, and by extension the city of New Orleans, his home. Lestat, on the other hand, urges Louis to travel the world and embrace life and his vampire nature-he sees vampirism as a chance to drink deeply from the cup of life for all its worth. Louis, on the other hand, has moral qualms about their lives and nature that often depress him. The characters are at their most relatable, and there is even humor to be found, in this longer and more richly explored take on what the novels reckon as 60 years that Louis and Lestat spent together as companions, loves, and parents in New Orleans, understanding each other as no one else ever has but misunderstanding each other so heartbreakingly, all in one complicated shared life.


The vampire Claudia may just be the most frightening character in the annals of 20th century horror novels. Clive Barker’s Hell Priest (Pinhead, to movie fans), and Stephen King’s many horror villains like Pennywise the evil clown of It certainly claim their stake, but what could be more frightening than being lured to a bloody death at the hands of a vampiric child who appears sweet, small, innocent and fragile? The novel describes Claudia as a five year old who resembled a porcelain doll, and describes her posing as a lost child in need of help, whom her victims buy toys and hot chocolate for before she ends their lives.

In the television adaptation, she is recast as a young teenager, which suits the soul of that character. Claudia’s frustration with her own body, and with a world that will not give her the answers or acceptance she is seeking,  jive poignantly with adolescence. Like many teenagers, she takes her frustration out on her parents, although in this case she is perhaps more justified than most: while Louis and Lestat gave her a vampiric life, they did take her mortal life. Lestat is also keeping secrets about the history and origin of vampires that Claudia is determined to find out on her own. 

Their family unravels as all of these tensions explode, leading to an elaborate betrayal. 

My Verdict

I’ve never visited New Orleans, but the city has long captured imaginations for its unique spirit, one of beloved traditions, rich history, eccentricity and vibrant lust for life. The series captures not only the humanity of Rice’s characters, but I’d wager a stolen fragrance of the soul of New Orleans, her hometown, too: there is a rich bouquet of pathos to be found  in Interview With the Vampire, a cavalcade of delights coming together to make a one-of-a-kind experience as do the bright colors, convivial music, careful ornamentation, and proud presentation of a Mardi Gras celebration. 

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