Armand (Assad Zaman) and Louis (Jacob Anderson) sit together in 'Interview With the Vampire' season 2

Why Aren’t You Watching the Best Horror Series Since ‘Hannibal’?

It’s been almost 10 years since NBC aired the series finale of Hannibal, and in the time since, not a month has gone by that I haven’t heard or read these words from someone on the internet (myself included): I miss Hannibal. Unlike most of the internet, however, I seem to be among the few people sensible enough to recognize Hannibal‘s successor.

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All of which is to say: Not nearly enough people are watching—and talking about—Interview With the Vampire. AMC’s adaptation of the Anne Rice novel, and the first title in its Immortal Universe (a collection of series based on Rice’s vampire and witch novels), is in the midst of airing its second season. And yet, week to week, I hear next to nothing about what is arguably the best show currently airing on TV. It’s definitely the hottest, best looking, goth-iest, and gayest show on TV—four quadrants I didn’t know could be hit this hard simultaneously.

Maybe audiences prefer the unspoken but blatant homoeroticism between Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham to the overtly gay narrative of Interview With the Vampire, which tells the story of Louis (Jacob Anderson) and his tumultuous decades-spanning relationships with not one, but two extremely complicated vampire men: Lestat (Sam Reid), his maker and first love; and Armand (Assad Zaman), his rebound-turned-long-term Sig O and, as we’re learning in season 2, a real power bottom.

Unlike the 1994 film of the same name, Interview With the Vampire is slightly more languorous with its pacing, taking time to develop its characters and relishing in the opportunity to explore what makes them tick. Nowhere is this more evident than in the series’ framing, which sees Louis reconnecting with journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian giving his best Anthony Bourdain) to share his grand life story. Louis’ history with Molloy was hinted at in season 1, but season 2 takes us back to their fateful meeting in San Francisco in 1973. In episode 5, “Don’t Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape,” Molloy and Louis seize on a private moment while Armand is out hunting a tech bro for lunch/afternoon enrichment to figure out what exactly happened in 1973. It isn’t just Molloy who’s forgotten the several days he was holed up in Louis’ apartment; Louis isn’t entirely sure what happened back then, either.

As Interview With the Vampire pulls the curtain back on Armand and Louis’ relationship dynamic, we’re also learning about what happened in Paris after Louis and Claudia (Delainey Hayles) joined the Théâtre des Vampires, where they first met Armand. Having spent half of her time in season 1 as an angry teenager, so to speak, Claudia has become determined to find where she belongs. Claudia immediately takes to the hierarchy of the Paris coven, finding stability in their order and rules, not unlike a troubled human teen from a dysfunctional family. The spell soon breaks when Claudia is forced into protracted arrested development, made to perform as a living doll night after night for the passing amusement of human audiences. As season 2 progresses, Claudia identifies a potential soulmate in Madeleine (Roxane Duran), a local dressmaker whom Louis turns into a vampire to keep Claudia company.

But the coven has become aware of the secret Louis and Claudia have been keeping since they arrived: They left Lestat for dead when they left New Orleans, and killing another vampire is an unforgivable act. Those who’ve read Rice’s novels or watched the 1994 film are well acquainted with Claudia’s tragic arc, but the AMC series, which is far more faithful to the text, takes its time getting there. It isn’t until the end of episode 6, “Like the Light by Which God Made the World Before He Made Light,” that Louis and Claudia are taken by the coven to answer for their crimes—which also include turning a human child into a vampire, another big no-no.

Like Hannibal before it, Interview With the Vampire is a tragic horror story tinged with romance and desire; a series that’s both physically and emotionally gruesome, and that features compelling performances that transcend the formulaic soapiness typical of genre TV. Vampires, whose immortal existence in fiction is inherently loaded with romance and ennui, gives it a head start in terms of thematic heft, but Interview doesn’t rest on its laurels. The series has a distinct affinity for theatricality (a title card at the start of season 2 announces “the role of Claudia will now be played by Delainey Hayles,” acknowledging the recasting in a manner fitting this season’s setting) accentuated by actors giving honest-to-goodness performances, each calibrated to perfection.

Episodes 5 and 6 are the real highlights of season 2 so far, but each episode is more riveting than the last. I haven’t even gotten to Raglan James (Justin Kirk, hubba hubba), a member of the Talamasca, the secret organization that monitors vampires and witches (and other supernatural creatures we may or may not get to) in Rice’s novels; or Santiago, the lead actor of the Théâtre des Vampires, played brilliantly by Ben Daniels, star of Fox’s short-lived (and surprisingly good) series based on The Exorcist.

The end of episode 6 tees up the long-awaited return of Lestat, summoned by the Paris coven to testify against Louis and Claudia in a trial that will, of course, be staged in front of an audience. Lestat’s return was inevitable, but the episode 7 tease is still exhilarating—a testament to the excellent writing and structuring of this series. If you’re one of the people always (justifiably) griping about the cancellation of Hannibal, I’m not sure why you aren’t already obsessed with Interview With the Vampire. And I certainly don’t want to hear your complaints if this one gets canceled, too.

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Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.