Sometimes, TV can be a bit like pizza.
Bear with me here. Everyone likes it. But, really, have you ever met anyone who likes exactly what you like? For exactly the same reasons? No, which gives rise to one mutually applicable cardinal rule: don’t yuck someone else’s yum.
This week, I’m letting you in on one of my most closely guarded television secrets: my most-watched show on Netflix. Though far from the best show I’ve ever watched — certainly, the one most panned by my beloved AV Club — I always find myself coming back. Oh, and it’s about monsters. Did I mention that yet?
In a world saturated with supernatural programming, the North American remake of “Being Human” (2011 – 2014) is “my” little genre show. Remember our Golden Rule? You can have your Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolves and Walking Deads, as long as I can have my earnest, quirky, shoestring-budget chronicles of the three worst flatmates in history.
Meet Aidan (Sam Witwer), whose interests include leather jackets and brooding about his blood-fueled past. There’s Josh (Sam Huntington), a petrified med school dropout, prefers flannels and existential anxiety. Then there’s Sally (Meaghan Rath), confined to haunting the house she died in and navigating her increasing corporeality. A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost shack up in downtown (not!) Boston — it sounds like the setup for a very niche joke. But if you’re anything like me, you won’t actually care all that much about the events that follow.
Instead, you’ll care about how it happens — how these unlikely companions keep each other clinging to the shreds of their humanity, even as the body count inevitably ticks higher and higher. Every monster show leaves a requisite trail of dead people in its wake, but “Being Human” is refreshingly unwilling to glamorize the incessant violence. The show grounds itself in our deadly trio’s insistence that monster lives may come with impossible choices, but each of them must be held accountable for ruining their own and so many others’ lives.
I’m a sucker for a good “chosen family” story. And at the end of the day,“Being Human” is that in spades. Amidst plotlines that stretch credibility, the show feels surest in its precious moments of peace: Josh, Sally and Aidan sharing (well, sort of) a pizza or sitting quietly together on their front steps or just being. As Josh reminds Aidan on more than one occasion, their home is “sacred”– an escape from the struggle to survive and to feel worthy of that survival, a place where they can find unconditional love. And it’s that anchor — the extraordinary normalcy of it all — that keeps me coming back.
Hidden Gem: Suren (Dichen Lachman), reluctant ruler of Boston. Honestly, I would watch Lachman do commercials for paint thinner; here, she brings tenderness and the weight of history to what otherwise could have been another of Aidan’s very unmemorable flings.
#RelationshipGoals: Josh and his cleaning supplies, no matter the monstery mess at hand.
Selectively Forget: Aidan and Sally’s season four arc, which suggests the Powers That Be lost touch with what made their show great — and sours the otherwise admirable choice to end the series on their own terms.