Back before the fall of Lehman Brothers and the global economic collapse, I had a dirty little secret: my weekly addiction to the TV series Gossip Girl, about the absurdly rarefied lives of a fictional group of wealthy New York teenagers. Now ratings for the show are soaring: more than ever, people want cheap escapism.
I hear this from friends, from strangers, from parents at the boys' school. We are looking for any excuse to forget about the fear that we or our spouse might be laid off; that our bank with all our savings might collapse. In the past three weeks I've been into my local branch so often to inquire about the institution's health that now we are on cozy first-name terms.
But when I'm not worrying about money and the fact that neither presidential candidate has shown he has a full grasp of the complexities that lie ahead (in fairness, this is because in the last presidential debate host Bob Schieffer didn't ask them for a sufficiently detailed analysis of the current rescue plan) I'm thinking about something completely different: vampires. This year my television addiction is to an HBO series on Sunday nights called True Blood and just as I did with Gossip Girl I'll wager it will explode into an international hit, even though it's been a little slow to take off.
True Blood is now at episode seven and is gaining momentum fast. It boasts over six million viewers per episode. To me that's because nothing could be more fantastical and romantic than the show's premise namely that a human woman (played by Anna Paquin) should fall in love with a well-intentioned vampire (British actor Stephen Moyer in what is surely a breakthrough role). Last week I almost wept at the equivalent of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet when [spoiler alert] as soon as the sun set, she ran to him, barefoot, dressed in a virginal white nightdress. She wanted him to seduce her, which he both did and did not want to do. (He loves her too much to want to harm her with a vampire bite.)
I still play the scene over and over, which is ridiculous, unless you have looked long and hard into Stephen Moyer's eyes and then, you too, might be hopelessly hooked.
Either way, I spend all week looking at the markets during the day and having bad dreams at night. I pray for Sunday to come around. Thanks to True Blood, that's the only night I sleep well.
This article was originally published by the London Evening Standard