Saying Goodbye to Being Human
So a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost decide to move in together…
It sounds like the opening of a cheesy joke, but it’s actually the premise of the Syfy channel show and BBC remake, Being Human. If you haven’t heard of the show, it is based on the BBC show of the same name, and it premiered in 2011. Being Human is currently on its fourth and final season. The announcement of a final season came as a surprise to fans midway through the fourth season. The show’s creators made an “artistic decision” not to drag the series out. While this is unfortunate for the viewers who have followed since the beginning, it might be a great decision in the long run. Most television viewers have probably suffered through the dreaded middle seasons of a show that began on a high note (pointing finger at you, Smallville), so Being Human‘s abrupt end may not be such a disappointment.
The show stars several up-and-comers in the acting world, but they are no less fantastic than household names: Sam Witwer (Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Smallville) as Aiden; Sam Huntington (Superman Returns, Fanboys) as Josh; newbie Meaghan Rath as Sally; and Kristen Hager (Wanted) as Nora. Here’s a brief rundown if you are unfamiliar with the show:
Aidan Waite, a 200 plus year old vampire, and Josh Levison, a newly turned werewolf, meet at the Boston hospital they both work at. They become friends and decide to give “being human” a try–trying to live in the human world hiding their monstrous selves. They rent a house which turns out to be haunted by Sally Malik, a ghost recently murdered by her fiancé. The three attempt to establish a routine of being “mainstream” in the human world and avoid contact with others in the supernatural community. But, of course, the peace doesn’t last long. Aidan is continually tempted by blood and his maker, Bishop, to rejoin the vampire population. Josh must learn to deal with the monthly monster he becomes as well as developing feelings for one of the hospital’s nurses, Nora. Sally must decide whether or not to move on to the afterlife by going through a door that appears to her.
Think of it is as a supernatural Three’s Company, with lots of blood and sex. It’s the nightmare roommates who are, literally, the stuff nightmare are made up of. Aidan, Josh, and Sally work to find a balance in the world among the normal and paranormal. They struggle with seemingly normal problems of finances, troubled relationships, and home maintenance. However, most of us probably cannot relate to the necessity of finding a safe place to transform into a large animal once a month. But, once being human, they face their supernatural problems with a conflict of emotions: Is what I am about to do going to make me less human and more monster?
The primary cast is amazing, and the supporting cast brought in only add to the clever writing. Mark Pellegrino plays Aiden’s maker James Bishop. Pellegrino is well know on the supernatural television circuit having played roles on shows such as Lost and Supernatural. He plays a similar character to his Supernatural Lucifer: cocky, cheeky, and someone you love to hate. Ginger Snaps and known television guest star Katharine Isabelle has a recurring role as Aiden’s wife. Others include Dichen Lachman (probably most well-known as Sierra on Dollhouse) who plays one of Aiden’s love interests and television alum Amy Aquino as Donna, a witch who intertwines into Sally’s life.
While the cast is outstanding, they would be nothing without the clever writing and directing. Creator Toby Whithouse has worked on shows such as Doctor Who and Torchwood, so it’s no wonder that the show fluidly mixes drama, horror, and comedy without being overly sentimental or dramatized. There is a lightness to the show that keeps it from going too dark. One of my favorite moments of the last season is when Aiden has to knock down a wall to see if something sinister may be hiding behind it. Aiden cuts the tension by knocking down the wall and jumping through yelling “Oh yeah!” in a Kool-Aid man fashion. The lack of intense melancholy and angst makes me care about these characters more; they are well-rounded flesh and blood who deal with a range of emotions.
Four seasons have been just enough time to develop the characters and see them go through the ups and downs of learning to “be human”. We can relate to this show on so many levels of being. Stephen King wrote in his article “Why We Crave Horror Movies” that we all have a darkness that needs to be kept at bay, and we must find a less harmful outlet for our innate violent tendencies. We watch shows such as Being Human to curb our appetites for the macabre. We are all working everyday at “being human” and trying to fit into the norms of society.
For fans of the supernatural or just fan of great characters and storytelling, this is a show not to be missed. With only four nicely packaged seasons, there is not an extended season lull to dread. I am not sure what the series finale will bring, but I hope that it is not a tearful farewell or a traditional happily ever after scenario. These character deserve more. They will hopefully end on a happy-but-maybe-not-ever-after note. In other words, they will continue to live a typical human existence of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I’ll leave you with the casts’ thank you to the many faithful viewers:
What do you think? Leave a comment.
Of course it was shafted to make room for more game shows, art competitions & fake wrestling. It’s a damn shame that the end is so soon. I also watched & enjoyed the BBC’s Being Human.
I agree that that Syfy has gone heavy on the reality tv. But, like I said in my article, I am glad they didn’t drag Being Human out so that it became tedious to watch.
Possibly a contributing factor, the BBC’s version ended so they’d have to actually come up with completely original ideas instead of just rewriting the existing material for the US. Warehouse 13 on the other hand, they don’t have the writer’s strike as a scapegoat for that like they did for Eureka.
What are all the differences from the two shows storylines. After season 1 of this show the storylines have been very different then the UK storylines…
There are quite a few differences from the BBC show in later seasons. The Syfy show revolves more around Aiden being continuously lured back in to the Boston group of vampires, and a disease breaks out among them. Aiden also finds out more about his family. Josh has to deal with “pure-bred” werewolves. Sally eventually become a sort of witch. That’s just a few, and the last season of the SyFy show does not switch to completely new characters like the BBC did.
There’s a ton, too many to name, especially since the plot diverges entirely after the first season. Here’s some of the differences just in season one:
-Boston, not Bristol.
-Aidan was turned during the Revolutionary War, Mitchell was turned during World War One.
-The old vampire elites are Amish, not European nobles.
-Character names: Aidan/Mitchell, Josh/George, Sally/Annie, Nora/Nina, Bishop/Herrick, Danny/Owen.
-Aidan kills Bishop instead of Josh, whereas in the UK version George killed Herrick.
-Aidan chooses to kill Bernie rather than let him go, isn’t the one to turn him, and never tells his mother that he’s a vampire.
-Josh has a sister who is a major character, and visits his family in the first season.
-The story arc in “Dog Eat Dog” never happens in the UK version (the werewolf fights in the UK version are a completely different thing).
-Bridget, the girl that Danny begins to date, is actually a sympathetic and developed character, and is an old friend of Sally’s. In the UK version, Owen just picks up some slag off the street.
In the UK version there’s another house introduced that has a vampire, werewolf and ghost living together but they’ve been doing it A LOT longer than the original cast.
There’s no concept of Kharma in the UK version (in other words, ghosts can mess with people without repercussions and witchcraft/magic doesn’t come with a price). Vengeance happens in the UK version, but it doesn’t seem like an awful sin. It’s more justified and understandable.
The other werewolves are nicer in the UK version, not like a crazy cult.
I thought the UK version while having some very serious episodes also had some very humorous episodes and moments. I don’t remember laughing much watching the US version, but the UK version had a lot of chuckles. I loved the never-ending D&D-type game (very dark and wicked humor there) and the misspelling of pedophile. Little touches like that were great.
They are just completely different shows after the first season.
I can’t believe Syfy is cancelling this show. I have been watching it from the very first episode. I know I won’t be watching anymore syfy shows. They cancel every good show it seems.
It’s not Syfy’s fault. They simply didn’t have the budget to do five good seasons. Sam Witwer said that they could have had a good fourth season and a crappy fifth season, or they could end the series strong in the fourth, which is what they chose to do.
It doesn’t seem like a strong finish to me. These last few episodes have been a disappointment. The term “jumped the shark” comes to mind. Although it is hard to really decide what qualifies as jumping the shark when the entire show is about fantasy characters.
I like two of their new shows, Helix and Defiance. There have been a few promising new shows advertise lately (can’t remember names right now). But I do agree that they are heading too far into the reality tv genre.
It’s simple. The ratings aren’t good enough to warrant keeping it on. Even though Syfy is cable, it’s still ad-supported television.
My theory is that SyFy spent too much money on “Defiance”, so they are having to drop shows to cover that waste of money.
After Syfy killed off Alphas, I really don’t expect anything less from the network. It’s unfortunate but business is business I guess.
I tried reeeeeally hard to get into Being Human. After the first few episodes I lost interest, unfortunately. Hopefully the cancellation of this show will lead to Syfy starting up another quality show. We shall see!
Thank you for writing this piece. This was a great article that was very informative. I had not heard of this series until reading your post, but now I will definitely check it out because it sounds like something that would interest me.
Hmm, the show itself sounds interesting. I’ve fallen off of the vampire/werewolf bandwagon since been sooo over done these past few years, but British shows tend to be pretty good. Since you said it’s a successful rendition, it sounds promising. Hopefully SyFy can keep with this trend!
I think the cancellation of Being Human is a great thing if it was done while the show was still good. Oftentimes, they wait until the show has lost its edge and ends on a bad note which is never a good thing. Also, I am burnt out on the overload and over-obsession with vampires, werewolves, and ghost.
To round it up, the rights to the show were bought by a company that didn’t want to finance it. The budget for seasons 4 and 5 were too low to maintain any sort of quality, so the producers decided to scrap season 5 and do just one more season with a decent budget.
It’s deeply disappointing, but what’s done is done.
Never really been a huge fan of all the werewolf/vampire stuff (thank you Twilight) but I might check this show out sometime since it’s coming to an end.
It is nothing like Twilight. There are so many great elements to the show besides the werewolf/vampire topic. It has a lot of heart and humor.
I loved the BBC version of it, perhaps due to its dark humor and rough edges, the general European feel of it. I wish I could endorse the American remake, but it’s just lukewarm reheated leftovers. I don’t think remaking it contributed anything to the already existing supernatural TV in America.