A vampire who refuses his natural urge to feed on humans. A werewolf shunning his animal side and alienating himself from his family. A ghost who can’t let go of a past she doesn’t even fully remember. Toss the three into a quaint Bostonian home and you have ‘Being Human’, a Syfy channel remake of the British series of the same name. Though the supernatural is a key ingredient to the show’s drive, the overall theme of season one is about fitting in a society when there’s no true place for you. It’s a long and arduous journey and, despite it being beings of the supernatural ilk, we can all relate to the difficulties of learning what it takes to be human. Be warned there are spoilers ahead as we discuss all of season one to catch up before the new season begins tomorrow on Syfy.
“We’re all hiding something, aren’t we?”
Aidan and Josh share an unusual friendship. Forged two years prior when Aidan saved Josh from a beating at the hands of two vampires, the friendship is complicated by the fact that, as vampire (Aidan) and werewolf (Josh), they should hate one another. But the supposed hate is drowned out but something far stronger; both crave a normal life but don’t know how to live it. When Aidan suggests they move in together Josh, is reluctant but hopeful. It’s in this home that they come across Sally, a recently deceased woman who has no idea how she became a ghost, but ecstatic that’s she’s able to interact with the new inhabitants. And like Aidan and Josh, Sally has her own damage though hers isn’t as readily apparent as her two roommates.
Like many of the more recognizable vampire heroic archetypes of the past decade, Aidan is a tortured soul. As a protagonist, our first exposure to him is quite unique and a verification of his predatory nature. A vampire that’s sworn off human blood, within the first five minutes of the pilot episode, has fallen victim to his own bloodlust, seemingly killing fellow nurse, Rebecca, during sex. The guilt of his actions has Aidan reaching out to Marcus and Bishop, his blood family, to hide the mistake. As his progenitor, Bishop wants Aidan back in the fold; they’re family after all, and family sticks together. The vampiric family however, is a reminder—and temptation—to Aidan of his past atrocities. What he finds with Josh is the possibility of something more, something real and something he can embrace.
Attacked by a werewolf during a camping trip, Josh was infected by the lycanthropy from a bite. Realizing the danger he posed to those he loved, Josh left everything behind; a family, a fiancée, a promising medical career without giving anyone a reason for disappearing. It is by happenstance—or is it serendipity?—he and Aidan meet. Despite their friendship, Josh still doesn’t know how to deal with his condition.
The darker nature of what is unleashed during the full moon is his continual reminder of why any human attachments should be avoided. When he meets Ray, another werewolf, Josh starts to embrace that other side of himself, gaining a confidence that brings him into the life of Nora, a doctor at the hospital. While things do not go smoothly between the two of them, she touches a part of Josh he thought buried when he left his family behind. His fear of hurting those close to him is an overriding factor in causing the difficulties that span through he and Nora’s courtship. It’s only when he shows her just who and what he truly is, that Josh receives a sort of closure to accepting himself.
Isolated from contact with others until Josh and Aidan move in, Sally’s a ghost who can’t remember what happened to her. Where Josh and Aidan hide their beastly nature from others, Sally’s own demon is locked behind a wall of her own creation. At first thought her death is brushed off as nothing more than a tragic accident; falling down the steps while walking blindly through her house. It’s not until later that her repressed memories, those of her less than gentle fiancé, Danny, surface. The truth crushes her as she realizes the monster hidden within her former beau. Through her ordeal of discovering the truth and the pain of seeing Danny and her best friend Bridget, Sally fights back, refusing to be the victim any longer. Her strength and the bond she forms between Aidan and Josh helps propel Sally into a better understanding that she is not alone.
“We’re not quite real, are we?”
Thinking her dead, Aidan is stunned when a vengeful Rebecca shows up as a vampire. Part of him is relieved that she’s alive though the fact that she’s become a vampire causes him to ache. Never would he wish his life upon someone else. With Rebecca, a part of him sees a chance for more, though she embraces the natural bloodlust of a vampire, something he begs her to try and control. When Bernie, a young boy Aidan mentors that reminds him of his young son, is hit by a car, Rebecca takes it upon herself to turn the boy. Even in vampire circles, the turning of a child is taboo. But Rebecca tries to convince Aidan the three of them can live as a family. Missing the family he had so long ago, Aidan allows himself to be seduced by the idea. But how real can such a family be? When Bernie seemingly kills two young bullies (Marcus actually perpetrates the crime, framing Bernie), Aidan must kill Bernie. When he confesses to Rebecca, she is distraught and her anger dissipates into despair and, after killing Marcus to help Aidan, she begs Aidan to kill her, no longer willing to live such a life. It’s a painful reminder to Aidan that, no matter what, he will never have the traditional family he’d had as a human.
For Josh, living on the fringe of both worlds, unable to feel comfortable in either, has him at an impasse. He loathes what he is and has little confidence as what is needed for him to belong. Aidan’s early attempt to integrate them both into society, first by moving in together and then by involving themselves in the community, though it is what Josh needs, what he wishes for, still presents its own problems. Even when he finally admits to his family that he is indeed a werewolf, after deliberation, he realizes that, despite being blood, his true family is Aidan and Sally. Part of his change is no doubt due to his burgeoning feelings for Nora but one cannot discount the pull his two supernatural counterparts have on Josh. They are all freaks and, as such, are kindred spirits in a world not quite ready for the truth.
Insofar as truth goes, Sally fears being forgotten. Her remaining in this world is largely in part to her fear that, were she to leave this plane, Danny would forget her. As a ghost, she is less a part of the world than either Josh or Aidan. It’s not until later where she discovers the ability to manipulate objects that she starts towards reconciling her condition. When she discovers Danny’s treachery, Sally becomes vengeance. She tries saving Bridget from Danny’s hidden evil but her former best friend believes Danny. With the help of Aidan and Josh, she finds that closure when Danny admits to his role in her death to the police. This is what triggers her door to the other side but her loyalty to her friends trumps her desire to be at peace.
“Do you accept who you are or do you refuse?”
As Aidan’s maker, Bishop is the leader of Boston’s vampire community. In tune with his true nature, his continued attempts to bring Aidan back into the fold are constantly thwarted by the latter. Though the strife between the two is tangible in the present, flashbacks present a much different relationship. They had once been like brothers, reveling in the blood and decadence of the vampire lifestyle. A turning point in their relationship, however, was Bishop falling in love with a human nurse. Aidan’s disgust at his mentor’s weakness is ironic for Aidan finds himself, years later, in a similar circumstance with Celine. Bishop’s brutal treatment of Celine is not discovered by Aidan until much later, when a dying Celine admits to Aidan Bishop’s role in breaking them apart.
But the strife between the two vampires goes farther than that of a woman. Bishop is the father that wants his son to follow in his footsteps but the son rebels. It’s something Bishop grudgingly lives with until Aidan performs the ultimate betrayal. When the Dutch, vampire royalty of a sort, arrive to pass judgment on Bishop for allowing Aidan to shun his vampiric nature, Bishop reveals his plan; quietly building an army to become the most powerful vampire clan in the country. Poisoning the Dutch, he kills all but their leader, Heggerman, whom Aidan saves. Heggerman leaves to warn the other vampire clans of Bishop’s betrayal. It’s the final straw in the fractured relationship between the two vampires and when Bishop tries to kill Aidan, they both know there is no turning back. Knowing his only choice is to kill or be killed, Aidan accepts a duel with his former maker, one that, with help from Sally, he wins, beheading Bishop in the process. With Bishop gone, Aidan is the new leader of the Boston vampire clan, a fact emphasized when Heggerman returns, alerting Aidan that “she” wishes to see him.
With Ray’s help, Josh starts to realize the primal power within him. While the new found—and short lived—confidence helps bring him Nora, his fear is elevated even more at that knowledge. He shuns the other werewolf when Ray confesses he was responsible for Josh being turned.
When the Dutch capture Josh and pit him against an older, more powerful werewolf, Josh surprises himself (and those watching, including Aidan) when he successfully kills the other werewolf. The psychological trauma of taking another life is difficult for Josh to handle and he is even more afraid of what’s in him. He tries to push Nora away but she refuses to turn away. When they find out she’s pregnant, fears become nearly unbearable, terrified of the spawn she carries. Only by circumstance does Nora discover Josh’s true nature and despite the surprise, she takes the news quite well. For his part, while Josh is not quite to the place of being comfortable with the beast within, he has come a long way into resolving the conflict within him. But will all this progress be set back by the scratches on Nora’s arm? Scratches made by Josh during one of his transformations and more than likely making her a werewolf like him.
Sally’s own journey is one of expansion. Imprisoned in her home early on, she finds, with the help of another ghost, that it only takes a thought for her to move anywhere she wants. This new ability is what helps trigger her memories of Danny’s part in her death. Coupled with being stuck on the physical plane, it’s not until she resolves her feelings of her past life that her door to the other side—for ghosts only remain if they have unfinished business—opens. When Aidan is wounded by Bishop, instead of leaving him, Sally consciously chooses to remain at his side. Sally’s choice to remain signifies her belief that she’s found her family and while she may move on sometime in the future, she has found a home in our world, with her true family.
Though not original in the take on vampires and werewolves, the dynamics set up between the three protagonists of ‘Being Human’ is truly fascinating. Throughout the first season Aidan, Josh, and Sally start off on a journey as misfits who lack anchors to keep them grounded. It isn’t until they come together that they find a family that offers them the support structure they’ve been lacking. How often do we find ourselves out of place or out of time, searching for the one person who gives our life meaning? Regrets of the past, fears of the future often hold us back and without someone to remind us to step back and breathe we can become lost in our own detritus.
For the three characters in ‘Being Human’, the bond created between them is that dam shoring up the tidal wave of uncertainty. They are linked with the promise and hope that even they, despite all their afflictions, have something to belong to for family, as dysfunctional and disjointed as they can be, often provide the security of knowing we belong, we are here and we are human.