Syfy’s new horror series Reginald the Vampire follows a freshly turned bloodsucker (Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Jacob Batalon) who’s doing his best to figure out his new supernaturally enhanced life—something that’s far more complex that he initially realized. The show hits Syfy in October and at a recent press conference event, io9 got a chance to ask its star and creators about it.
First, we had to address the obvious: vampire TV series are perennially popular—along with Reginald the Vampire, this fall’s new offerings include Peacock’s Vampire Academy, AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, and Showtime’s Let the Right One In. Plus, you know, there’s also FX’s outrageously popular What We Do in the Shadows, which just wrapped up its fourth season. So what makes Reginald the Vampire unique?
“I think for us, the world in part that was created by Johnny Truant in the original book really posited this sort of interesting dichotomy between the vampire world where vampires are really vapid, vain runway models,” explained showrunner and executive producer Harley Peyton (Chucky, Channel Zero, Twin Peaks). “That’s who they are. They seek a kind of perfect perfection. It’s all about beauty. And that’s where we get into issues of body shaming and body positivity. And Reginald, of course, just doesn’t fit the mold. That’s something that we follow and work with, whether it’s text or subtext. And I think that’s pretty different from anything I’ve seen before. In other words, this vampire society, they love bureaucracy. They love to look at a mirror because they can see themselves in a mirror. And it’s all about that conflict between what we think of as beauty, and what we think of as inner truths and the beauty inside us. So that’s what made it fun for me.”
Executive producer Jeremiah Chechik elaborated. “I think the foundation of our show is very rooted in real emotional dynamics. That is the rock solid foundation, and it’s based on how we fit in, how we present ourselves, what we think of ourselves, how we relate to others, what is expected of us, our sexual orientation, the color of our skin. All of these things are really social dynamics which we explore within the wrapping of a vampire show,” he said. “So I think the root of our show is not really to to create a horror vampire ‘I will suck your blood’ kind of show. It’s really about how when you die, you can become a better person… or not. But those are the the real reversal tropes that stand out. And of course, tonally and visually, it doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen; it has a lollipop, color-pop aspect to it. So it really works against the tradition of the dark noir vampire horror.”
Plus, according to executive producer Lindsay Macadam, Reginald the Vampire also has a secret weapon in the form of its cast, which also includes Savannah Basley, Em Haine, and Mandela Van Peebles. “The heart of our show is very different than a lot of the other vampire shows out there,” she said. “And what really appealed to me was that this is such an underdog story, and there’s a really positive message that’s baked into all the entertainment and comedy. So it’s very aspirational and it’s so much fun. But all those other shows don’t have Jacob and the cast that we have; they just nailed it right off the top.”
Batalon, who’s best-known as Peter Parker’s best friend Ned in the recent Spider-Man movies, took the compliment graciously but also agreed with the other points raised. “Speaking to all of that, I would say that really we truly are something that—I don’t think anyone is going to expect the way this story goes. I think we’re very quick to judge as fans, ‘Oh, another vampire trope.’ [But] what our creators were saying is that it’s really about the human condition, and seeing [someone] go through a journey of self-love and the connections he has through death. It’s like, he learns life through death. And that’s a very poignant, a deeper sort of meaning than just like wanting to kill people and look super hot.”
“When the the network ordered the show,” Chechik added, “they wanted it because to quote, there was nothing like this on TV.”
Reginald the Vampire premieres October 5 on Syfy.
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