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The Strain Review (Spoilers!)

Original review: http://www.snatchzine.com/blog/2014/9/19/small-screen-the-strain-review

The New Breed of Vampire Is… A Worm?

The_Strain_2014_Intertitle

The Strain is attempting to redefine vamps. After some rather unfortunate mishaps in the shape of Twilight, every single vampire-related form of entertainment media has been unfairly tarnished. The Strain, however, is taking more of an I Am Legend approach (not the Will Smith movie, people! The novel) and the premise is fairly interesting. Basically, you are infected due to some parasitic worms invading your body (anyone remember Animorphs?) and taking over your brain, essentially killing you and possessing you will some form of demon (like in Buffy, when they would be, like, demon, but still them, yah?).

The only thing is, well, the execution of this rather interesting re-invention of the vampire genre is pretty poor. With some sterling acts on board like Sean Austin (The Goonies) and of course, the legendary Guillermo del Toro, I must admit I had much higher hopes. Perhaps that is the problem? There is one thing for sure though, it is pretty addictive but no consolation for the end of True Blood.

The other major issue with this new series is the distinct lack of really interesting and powerful female characters. *yawn* No surprises there! The main female lead, Dr. Nora Martinez, may be a biologist and therefore highly educated P.H.D. holding woman but both lead men are still expressed as her superiors. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather is her boss, head of her CDC team and Abraham Setrakian is a professor (arguably to doing both in intellectual terms).
As well as this, she just continues to re-enforce gender stereotypes.
Unlike the men, she cannot bear the thought of killing one of these vampiric creatures, as she still sees them as human. The two men, Eph and Abraham, have a no mess, straight-forward attitude. They try to keep it together and realise the realities in which they face – they must kill these infected humans (many of which died prior to infection anyway). Nora becomes very upset by the idea of killing and temporarily refuses to help. While Nora isn’t presented as necessarily weak for this choice, she is no doubt the more emotional and irrational party.
Nora is also madly in love with her superior, Eph, and they previously had a sexual relationship when he separated from his wife. However, her love is very much unrequited. Eph is still in love with his ex-wife and is desperate to find her and insure her safety after discovering her new boyfriend is infected and attacks their son. He makes it pretty bleedingly obvious that all Nora is to him is a sexual comfort and colleague. Although he obviously harbours more affection for her than his other colleagues, it appears she is a close friend with benefits. Nora obviously maintains hope, however, and continues to be his lapdog and take second place to his wife.

Aside from Nora, the other female characters are very underdeveloped and similarly steeped in stereotype. They are all obviously intelligent (in fact, every single character appears to be highly educated) but in one way or another cut down to size. Jim Kent’s wife is portrayed as a strong and dominant personality yet she is completely reliant on her husband due to the fact that she is dying of cancer. Nora’s opinionated mother suffers from dementia and Dutch, the British computer hacker has a mess of a personal life. Dutch is presented as being very self assured, yet she had no idea why she was hired to close down computer systems in the area. She is also very cliched, as it is implied she had some form of sexual relationship with her house mate (who then stole from her), is British (therefore liberal) and well, a computer hacker (therefore weird, alternative and offbeat).

While the men are by no means un-flawed, there are many more male characters to pick from and they are the ones who ultimately have the power. The sexual fluidity of characters and no end to the number of strong females featured in True Blood obviously makes it the better show. Sorry Del Toro, maybe stick to the movies.

Verdict: 7/10

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