When I first began watching the web series Carmilla, produced by digital studio Smokebomb Entertainment and executive produced by U by Kotex, I could not have predicted how much of an impact that it would have on my life. It began with a binge of season one and my heart took hold. Laura Hollis (Elise Bauman) was a quirky college student at Silas University who had a passion for journalism and a love for all things sugary sweet. When her roommate Betty goes missing Silas becomes not your average college campus and Laura begins her journey, and apparently, I began mine too.
Laura could have easily let this go, but as the season progresses we come to learn along with Laura that this was just the catalyst for a life altering rude awakening. Enter Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis), Laura's new roommate with an attitude and a license to brood. While the two clash at first, Laura comes to realize that Carmilla has a rich history and a thirst for blood; she's actually a vampire! Bitten, by the investigation bug that is, Laura starts live vlogging about her new roommate, her friends Danny (Sharon Belle), LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander), and Perry (Annie Briggs), and what pieces to the puzzle Carmilla plays. Suddenly Laura's world is anything but average and she finds that to save what, and who, she loves the most you have to girl the hell up! Carmilla ends up becoming more than just Laura's unholy annoying roommate, she becomes Laura's constant and source of support. Riddled in pop culture references from Harry Potter and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Veronica Mars, this standout series proved to be sharp, smart, and one that fans could invest their faith in.
Over three seasons of the series, Carmilla has provided web series watchers with the kind of LGBT representation that has been unprecedented. Queer characters, non binary characters, and characters who never even needed to say the word lesbian. Not because it was taboo, but because labels simply were not needed. No one needs a label to define who they are, and Carmilla showed that love has no labels. Not only that, but in a TV world of tired tropes, Carmilla dared to defy and do the direct opposite and showed that the creators and producers cared. Last season of television the lives of queer characters seemed expendable. Between shows like The 100, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Arrow, and The Vampire Diaries, the death toll was gruesome and incredibly disheartening. With Carmilla, yes, characters did die, but none for long because this series is all about the element of surprise as well as respect for the audience.
Carmilla taught its audience about acceptance and what in life and love were worth fighting for. For so many, watching Carmilla was like an awakening. You related to the characters and their inner struggles as well as the ways they redefined love, relationships, and the view of gender identity. It also incorporated the use of transmedia which gave fans the feeling of continued content and immersion in the series even when the episodes weren't airing. The series also showed audiences that family isn't always blood related, we create the life we want to live with the people we surround ourselves with who matter the most.
For me personally, not only did Carmilla help find and give me a voice, it also brought me an extended family of support. I am forever grateful to this little web series that taught me more about myself in two years than the world in my bubble of thirty six years of existence. I felt like I had a lifeline to a community of Creampuffs that I could look to with unconditional admiration.
Each character signified so much and has a place permanently cemented in my heart as a reminder of how strong we can stand together. Laura gave the audience leadership and female empowerment. Carmilla showed that courage can come in any form, and you should never let what matters most in life slip by. Danny had the heart of a hero, even in the end when it no longer was beating. LaFontaine's never give up attitude and strong resilience gave the audience a character with vulnerability they could relate to. While each character may have had an individual significance, together as whole they represented solidarity and strength.
Saying goodbye to the series itself is hard, but as the quote says, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." On October 13th we said goodnight to Carmilla, not goodbye. While the web series may have come to a conclusion a new life will be breathed into it in the form of a feature length film that is slated to be released in 2017, Carmilla: The Movie. From the incredibly raw, real, and phenomenally captivating portrayals, Carmilla has made an incredible impact, not just by defying TV's traps and tropes, but by building a fandom that has become a family. They have given queer characters and audiences what so many TV series haven't, the gift of a happy ending. They have shown that queer voices and storylines matter. To the cast and crew of Carmilla, our lives have changed for good because we knew you. Thank you for showing us that love will have its sacrifices, but also its triumphs.