‘Interview With The Vampire’ Examines Difficult Themes With Focus And Understanding – TV Review


Because gay people have been so maligned in U.S. culture for decades, it’s tempting to avoid ever painting them poorly in Hollywood films and TV. When depiction does not equate to endorsement, it becomes easier to open up the possibilities of storytelling and understand that not all queer tales must be happy and not all gay romances must be ideal. Enter Interview with the Vampire, an updated adaptation of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name. Although I haven’t read the book, I’ve read a lot about it, enough to know the queerness isn’t as explicit as the new show makes it. Here there be gay vampires, and there’s no denying it. But there’s also no denying the toxicity of their relationship.

In 1910 New Orleans, Louisiana, 33-year-old Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) ran brothels and oversaw an immense trust left over by his deceased father. As a Black man in the 1910s, he faces a great deal of challenges, both personal and professional. One fateful night he meets Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), under whose spell he falls. Lestat is, of course, a vampire, and in a bloody, sensual scene, Lestat transforms Louis into a vampire, too. He also teaches Louis how to live as a vampire, causing Louis to have to contort everything about his life and habits to protect himself in his new way of being.

Interview with the Vampire features a vital framework that helps make sense of the story. This framework is the interview conducted by Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian). Forty-nine years after their initial ill-fated interview in San Francisco, Daniel and Louis now meet during the summer of 2022 in Louis’s home in Dubai. Daniel’s no-nonsense commentary helps unpack many of the series’s more complex themes, even if he does so in standoffish and frequently disrespectful ways.


Although the show’s setup and its embrace of the queer subtext of the book seem like it would approach it from a classic “sexy vampire” position, instead, the show invests itself in the painful circumstances it strives to take seriously. In the pilot, Louis says, “[he] was being hunted, and [he] was completely unaware it was happening,” yet in episode 3, he denies he was abused or ever a victim. But we see the truth. Lestat and Louis’s relationship is abusive, at many points, extremely so. This fact takes us back to my opening, to issues of representation. Do we need a show about a queer vampire who takes out his rage on his family? The answer may not be “yes, we need it,” but the show certainly makes a case for itself as a strong examination of violence in the home.

It’s easy to hyper-focus on the domestic nature of the violence and miss another important point: Lestat’s harm is racialized. He’s turned two Black people, Louis and Claudia (Bailey Bass), into vampires and is at least partly responsible for their hardships. Yet, instead of supporting them, he uses his powers to oppress them further. Some on the internet have claimed Lestat is a racist, and although he may not bear the typical characteristics Hollywood uses to denote racists, his privilege and the way he controls his family no doubt reveals a racialized power dynamic with him at the top.

The last two episodes of the series are potent in their attempts to dissect and eviscerate Lestat’s power while still recognizing how difficult it can be to uproot an abuser from one’s life. Louis’s struggles with loving Lestat are presented with empathy and understanding. Claudia’s desire to set things right and escape Lestat is given respect, too. They are in a tremendously challenging situation as abuse survivors, and the show, even if arguably spectacular (emphasis on spectacle) in its treatment of their escape attempts, at least aims to show the genuine physical and psychological impacts of domestic violence.

Although I’ve focused this review on the depiction of domestic violence, there are plenty of other important aspects of Interview with the Vampire, from Sam Reid and Jacob Alexander’s stellar performances as two very different kinds of vampires, to the rich historical New Orleans setting, to the sense of control the series holds in its depiction of vampiric bloodshed. At times, it feels like something is “missing,” some X-factor in terms of artistry and style, but it doesn’t stop the show from feeling substantial in its themes.

Interview with the Vampire is a story about the difficulties with accepting the kind of person one becomes to survive, whether that’s a real-world survivor of abuse or the fantastical survivor of a vampire transformation. Although this theme and its narrative execution may not resonate with everyone (much less with every survivor), it’s certainly a compelling examination of trauma and the will to go on.

Interview With A Vampire is available to view on AMC+ and any streaming service that hosts AMC shows

by Bishop V. Navarro

Bishop V. Navarro (they/she) is a poet, writer, and media studies scholar from Tampa, Florida. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida and currently pursues a PhD in Communication at USF. Her scholarly work examines boundary vulnerability in horror and science fiction media. You can find her on Twitter, Letterboxd, Instagram, and Tumblr @vnavarrowriter 

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