Julie Plec, TV’s Queen of Vampires, Reveals the Secrets to Making a Great Supernatural Teen Series

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It’s a simple fact of television: no one does vampires better than Julie Plec. The diary of vampires introduced viewers to a swoon-worthy love triangle; The originals delved into how stressful family drama can be when natural death is off the table; and legacies taught us that a supernatural high school would actually be a lot of fun. utilities Vampire Academy on Peacock is here to ask the question: How do bloodsucking and immortality coexist with the collapse of society?

Why vampires? And at a time when teen dramas are routinely cast aside and canceled, how did this one creator perfect this tricky formula? Decider talked about all this with series co-creators and longtime collaborators Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre; and what makes? Vampire Academy different.

Decision maker: How do you feel about it? Vampire Academy sit on peacock? It has a real streaming home, unlike your other shows that have bounced from streaming platform to streaming platform.

Julie Plec: For me, it was nice to start my new deal at Universal and walk next to Peacock and say, “Hey, here’s this show I’ve always wanted to do.” Susan Rovner had just been in charge there, who of course was my boss at Warner Brothers Television and was basically the head of drama when we The diary of vampires there, so it felt like a great karmic reunion. Even if you produce a show for streaming, you have all the freedom in the world. You have no advertising. You have no broadcasting standards. You can swear. You can catch a glimpse of a naked ass every now and then. There is much to offer.

Margaret MacIntyre: We’ve talked about that in the past too. Something terrible happens in a broadcast where you write something great, you shoot something great, and then you have to finish it in 42 minutes. For me, I always get frustrated that you don’t have time to dwell on those beautiful big romantic moments or those beautiful sad moments. You just don’t have that time, so it felt nice to be able to keep all the bits that we wanted to keep, keep that story moving but keep those moments that are wonderful that I want to enjoy as a fan. felt really great to me.

Daniela Nieves as Lissa Dragomir, Sisi Stinger as Rose Hathaway in Vampire Academy
Jose Haro/Pauw

Decider: Absolutely. What was it about Vampire Academy that seemed like a really good option for customization?

JP: It’s a book we both had read when it came out, which I think was in 2008 [Editor’s note: The first book was published in 2007]. Marguerite and I knew each other from a show called Kyle XY what we were both working on, and Vampire Diaries did not yet exist. We were just having fun reading on the beach and fell in love with these books, which was this really beautiful story about friendship and romance and the society doing its thing and treating people badly and people who rise above… It just felt like Vampire Academy is a great story that deserves to be told. It’s something that’s been in my head for almost 15 years. When I got the chance to have a go, Marguerite was the first I called.

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MM: What, are you going to say no to Julia Plec? You are an idiot. Of course I thought, “Yeah, let’s do this. This is great.”

And the other thing I’ve been thinking about, Julie, is, in… The diary of vampires and the originals, sure, there is always friendship as such a big theme and brothers… This is female friendship which is towards the woman. The revolutionary power of a female friendship in all our lives is so great. How is that against that canvas of a real society that is fraying? It felt very fresh and fun to me. Since we’ve always been friends, that’s a fun activity for us to dive into too.

Decider: That’s such a good point about female friendship. You’re both sort of the queens of vampire romance on TV. What is it about supernatural and romance that makes this combination so delicious? Why do you think we are so attracted to these stories?

JP: It’s funny, because I certainly never intended to get a firm foothold in the vampire body of work. But I think vampires to me are this inherent sense of loneliness. The whole sensual side of it, the whole primal side of it, [there is] a side that is just the idea of ​​whether you are going to live in an immortal life. What’s that worth if you walk this earth alone? I’ve always thought of vampires as an allegory for love – finding love, finding your family, finding your core, your team, your other half, your one and only couple, whatever you want to call it. This is a resource I keep diving into because it resonates so deeply with me, and I know that working within a genre can allow you to tell those simple stories that TV doesn’t always let you tell: the coming-of-age story. story, the family drama, the simple romance. I kind of use vampires as my spoonful of sugar which can help the other drug go down.

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Sisi Stringer as Rose Hathaway, Andrew Liner as Mason Ashford in Vampire Academy
Jose Haro/Pauw

Decider: Yeah, because all these shows are going to be so much more than vampires. They’re never really about vampires.

MM: I always say to Julie, I write in my second language because I don’t consider myself a genre person. I like genres. I like to look at genres, I think genre is great, but I never saw myself as someone who was a special genre writer. But what it does is it gives you all this freedom. It allows you to tell a story in the metaphorical form, and it allows you to indulge in some things because you are already in this slightly elevated style, so you can see this beautiful, simple, big romantic moments you can have. Simple, but you allow yourself to go a little bit more into it. It doesn’t feel as funny as in an everyday environment in the real world.

Decider: What goes into creating a really good teen-focused show? How do you connect with these stories?

JP: The first step is not to approach it as if you were writing a generation outside of your own inner self. I always say I have the emotional maturity of a 17-year-old and I just turned 50. I write my own insecurities, my own desire, my own search for family and friendship. I write in my head those moments that I may have always wanted or that I didn’t get growing up. I mean I still want to have [them]. There is universality in desire and confusion and insecurity throughout your teenage years and all the way up to old age.

MM: That’s the secret: As you get older and go through several decades of your life, you think, “Wait a minute, we’re always growing up.” We all have the same issues and problems that we had when we were 15. They’re just refined and they’re going in a different direction as we continue to know ourselves and know how we go about things and how we try to do better in our lives and how we deal with those things. But it’s all the same, so I totally agree. I love that [Julie] said you just don’t approach it like you’re writing for someone who isn’t like you, who may have less life experience than you. But we all deal with the same issues: desire, love, belonging, standing up for each other, right and wrong, moving people – it’s all the same stuff.

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JP: Wanting to change the world and thinking you can’t.

MM: Everything. So we are all much closer than we think. That makes it a lot easier if you just don’t put up a barrier between yourself and these characters. Or maybe Julie and I are both only 17 in our hearts.

Decider: The shows have fan bases like yours, the similarity seems to be respect for the fans.

JP: Precisely. We are all part of the same emotional community, regardless of our age. It’s about writing with the truth and making sure you have fun along the way.

Anita-Joy Uwajeh as Tatiana Vogel, Julio Perillán as Stefan Carter in Vampire Academy
Jose Haro/Pauw

Decision maker: What are you most excited about when people see it? Vampire Academy?

MM: I am so in love with and proud of the cast. I feel that when you meet these characters, embodied by these beautiful, really dedicated actors who also have nothing but deep respect for the fans, they are so excited and so respectful. They understand that they come into a world where people have an idea in their head. Richelle Mead [the author of the Vampire Academy books] even said to us, “Look if I cast Dimitri, half the fans would say, ‘That’s not Dimitri,’ because we all have this idea in our heads.” I believe they’re so good and so great and so ready to win us all over and make their way to all of us, to let all those iconic characters live and breathe in them.

JP: Absolute. And I’d say, because this show looks and feels and plays like nothing I’ve ever done before – and I’ve done a lot of vampire shows. It doesn’t look or feel like any other vampire show I’ve ever seen. In this beautiful way, thanks to Richelle Mead’s material and then of course shooting in Spain and all the majesty that goes with it. Let me give a little shout to Shonda [Rhimes]for a bit Bridgerton also affect. But we made a show that I don’t think anyone has ever seen. I don’t think anyone will be like, “Well, that’s distracted.” I think people think it’s really strange that although, yes I’m on vampire show #4 now, it still feels new and fresh and like a whole new story.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

New episodes of Vampire Academy premiere on Peacock on Thursday.