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Like any good disciple of 2010s Disney Channel shows and movies should, I still find myself going back to the Canadian import series My Babysitter’s a Vampire. The series was a spinoff of the Canadian TV movie of the same name, which itself was a smart and fun response to the post-Twilight vampire craze that featured the ups and downs of potentially becoming the creature we were all obsessed with in 2008. The series follows in all the right footsteps, with the same plucky lead character and his vampire babysitter saving their quaint little town from what goes bump in the night. Though the show was canceled after its second season (with a massive cliffhanger ending no less), its legacy has managed to outlast any and all loose threads, making it the perfect nostalgia binge.
Based on the title alone, My Babysitter’s a Vampire sounds a little silly, and, frankly, it is, but in all the best ways. The series stars Vanessa Morgan as vampiric babysitter Sarah, hired by Ethan’s (Matthew Knight) mom to watch his little sister Jane (Ella Jonas Farlinger), since she doesn’t fully trust him to watch her by himself. Following directly after the events of the film, Ethan’s best friend Benny (Atticus Mitchell) gets roped into the supernatural world along with new vampires Erica (Kate Todd) and Rory (Cameron Kennedy). The series follows a monster-of-the-week style format as the friends battle various supernatural creatures, all while trying to keep Sarah, Erica, and Rory’s vampiric secret under lock and key—and survive high school at the same time.
Featuring an incredibly catchy theme song (which was even performed by Vanessa Morgan and Kate Todd for its two-part series finale) and offering an alternative to the constant brooding that loomed over its vampiric peers at the time, it’s no wonder My Babysitter’s a Vampire became an instant hit with audiences. It may have been a response to Twilight, like many other vampire-focused media in 2011, but it struck a chord in the hearts of audiences much younger than those seeing Breaking Dawn Part 1 that same year. In its debut on Disney Channel, it garnered 3.7 million views, making it the top kids cable show in its time slot.
Due to the episodic nature of the series, there are episodes that stand out as comedic supernatural storytelling at its best. An early Season 1 episode titled “Blood Drive” follows Ethan and Benny as they investigate the school’s (you guessed it) blood drive, only to find that it’s being run by vampires posing as nurses, instead using the blood as a vampiric food bank. Even though that seems like a great alternative to, you know, killing people for their blood, the gang team up to stop them, resulting in a quick vampire romp—which I still think about every time I see a blood drive. Another example of supernatural hijinks is Season 1’s “Three Geeks and a Demon,” which follows Ethan, Benny, Rory, and Jane as they attempt to exercise a demon that has possessed Sarah, and must ultimately fight against their supernaturally strong babysitter. While each episode captured these sillier takes on the supernatural, it often resulted in highlighting the series’ beating heart: well-rounded characters and relationships.
As the 13-episode first season progressed, the series continued to lean into its monster-of-the-week shenanigans, until the Season 1 finale, which found Sarah’s old boyfriend returning to their town of Whitechapel. In the film, Jesse’s status as a vampire became a heavy-handed metaphor to showcase an abusive boyfriend quite literally sucking the life out of Sarah. His Season 1 return resulted in Sarah making the ultimate sacrifice: finally becoming a full vampire by drinking human blood in order to stop Ethan from becoming a vampire as well. Unlike its peers, My Babysitter’s a Vampire’s creepy vampire boyfriend was actually meant to be creepy, sending very different messages about consent and co-dependence than Twilight. By continuing this thread from the film with Jesse’s return, the series was allowed to step away from its sillier nature and into essential messaging for its teen audience.
Through Sarah’s relationship with Jesse, My Babysitter’s a Vampire communicated to its young audience the toll of abusive relationships, and the lasting pain that can come from them. Whether they knew it or not, young kids were being told that Jesse’s controlling nature and disregard for Sarah’s feelings caused her to feel pressured, alone, and sad, with each of these emotions being communicated through the mourning of her human life as she progresses into vampirism throughout the movie and show. So, when Ethan finally musters up the courage to ask Sarah out in Part 1 of what would become the series finale, its young audience understands that Ethan accepts Sarah exactly how she is, and is always willing to help her, creating an admirable on-screen representation of a healthy relationship.
Additionally, Erica’s series-long storyline sent another great message to its young viewers. The series examines the extent to which her physical vampire transformation made her peers respect her, taking her from the nerdy Dusk (this series’ Twilight spoof) fan to popular it-girl overnight. Her stark personality change asks its adolescent audience whether it’s worth it to become what others deem desirable if that means losing who you once were along the way. However, she’s not entirely unlikable, becoming the kind of mean girl you find yourself rooting for anyway, especially as her loyalty for Sarah trumps her baser instincts.
As mentioned, the show’s scorched-earth series finale—literally, a supernatural explosion rocked the entire town in the episode’s final moments—has remained a sore spot among fans, but My Babysitter’s a Vampire has still persevered in the nostalgic hearts of Gen Z. While other series’ botched or cliffhanger endings sour their entire run, My Babysitter’s a Vampire’s loose serialization allowed the ending to be a mere annoyance rather than a deal breaker. Because, even if Sarah, Ethan, and Benny’s fate was uncertain, their episodic misadventures were their most memorable, burying the almost nonsensical explosion with the good will built in the 24 episodes leading up to it.
With both the movie and series finally streaming in a single place on The Roku Channel, My Babysitter’s a Vampire will continue to live on in those that grew up with it, and hopefully find new viewers as well. Especially since, like Buffy before it, it took supernatural situations and turned those monsters into concepts perfect for young minds to ponder—-while still remaining smart and self-aware enough for a potential adult audience as well. Sure, zombie cheerleaders, ghost coaches, and vampire nurses are silly on the surface, but underneath, My Babysitter’s a Vampire asked big questions of its audience both young and old, imploring them to examine their own biases, beliefs, and feelings about how they treat both others and themselves—all under the banner of vampiric friendship and hair-raising fun.
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Anna Govert is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Indiana. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert;.
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