Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire: I Want You More Than Anything in the World

Episode eleven of AMC's Interview With the Vampire expertly tells a layered story about vampires while being far too amateur in its handling of real world ideas.

Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire: I Want You More Than Anything in the World
Image courtesy AMC+

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Interview With the Vampire through episode eleven and mentions of the Vampire Chronicles books through Queen of the Damned. Read at your own risk.


AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, I Want You More Than Anything in the World, yet again continues the trend of annoyingly long ass titles taken directly from the books but also the thing where I both love how well the show can craft a story while completely shitting the bed on who the story is about.

It’s at the point now where I actually have in my notes “Are we going to address the racist implications of Claudia’s performance or is this show going to be this show and skip right past it?”

Oh hey, guess who was right?

As you might imagine, I have a whole rant here about Claudia, about Louis, and about Madeline, so it’s going to get its own section. But there was some good stuff too - very good, even! So let’s talk about that as well.

The Smart Writing of AMC’s Interview With the Vampire Episode Eleven

This show has such a deft hand at writing a story with trust in the audience’s intelligence that the fact they use none of that when writing about things that really matter is driving me insane. But, again, I’ll get to the frustrating part in a sec.

But what I mean in terms of deft storytelling is how good they are at presenting a layered story without hitting you over the head with “Get it? GET IT????” moments.

For example, the obvious story is that Armand is head of the Paris coven and he’s frankly over it, Louis comes along and Armand rightfully has the hots for him because he looks like Jacob Anderson, Louis was in need of a rebound relationship and Armand looks like Assad Zaman, and together the two of them realize they want to be partners for the next stage of whatever their lives are going to be. Boom, done.

But the story under that is the power of Lestat’s influence and who he is as a vampire (vampire and not person being a deliberate word choice on my part), and the impact this has when he isn’t even there. And part of that impact is based on who Louis and Armand are as vampires too.

Case in point, Armand as a vampire is forever stuck. In the books this also gets symbolized by how he was turned at 14, so like Claudia (very literally like Claudia in the show, who was also 14) he is trapped in a body that won’t let him be anything he truly wants.

Armand is also trapped, however, in that he lacks the capacity to create or innovate. He is forever reactive and needing to be told what to do. He went to Paris in the first place because he was told to go. He enforced rules and dogma on other vampires because he was told to do that and not because he necessarily believed in them.

Then Lestat comes along and says hey, make a theater! So Armand makes a theater…. which stays the same for over a hundred years. Sure the plays themselves are different but it’s always a theater that hides blood drinking and still requires those rules that Armand enforced from hundreds of years before that. No change except what someone else told Armand to do.

And by the end of the episode what happens? Another change - or at least plans for one - but again not because of Armand, because Louis told him to.

This then gets to the vampire and not person of it because what we’re talking about is how to handle the challenges of a world that changes around you. Armand can’t do it. Even in modern day when Daniel brought up digital footprints last week Armand was dismissive of it. Yet cut to this week and Armand is shocked, shocked that Daniel could get his hands on a newspaper clipping from less than 100 years prior.

I get that Daniel got it from Raglan James and thus this is supposed to indicate that Armand and Louis both have reasons to suspect things but dude, c’mon. It’s a newspaper. That means the theater burning down wasn’t a secret in the first place and thus anybody with either halfway decent Google skills and/or good library access could’ve found it today. Armand is still behind the curve at the pace of the world around him and not really keeping up, even if he can use an iPad with the best of them.

Pulling this back to Lestat, one of the significant things about Lestat as a vampire is that he creates. Sometimes literally when it comes to things like music. But more importantly he makes his own path. Tell him this is the way we’ve always done things and he’ll immediately find another way on principle. Which, for vampires in a rapidly changing world, is a highly useful skillset. It’s worth noting that Lestat was turned around the start of the Industrial Revolution and in the Age of Enlightenment. The world was kick starting quantum leaps in innovation that zoomed humanity to where we are now in 2024 with the ability to pull up pictures of Pluto in our pockets.

This isn’t just me saying that. It’s expressly stated in the books that Lestat was fascinated by the changes in science and philosophy. He was illiterate before he was a vampire, and I don’t know if the show is going to keep that, but what did he do after? Quickly got on board and started learning.

So Lestat as a vampire is the modern age. He’s upheaval of the status quo based on the understanding that the only constant is change, so you either lead or get out of the way. Lestat’s of the belief that he’s fucking fabulous and everyone should both want him and want to be like him, so he leads. But mainly by selfishly forging his own way and if people get inspired or destroyed in his wake he doesn’t give a shit.

This brings us to Louis, who was sired by Lestat. Louis wants to be passive. He doesn’t want to affect change. He’d much rather mope about and make sad eyes until other people do things that he can whine about having to go along with.

But the problem is that Louis isn’t an Armand. He’s got the desire for innovation in him. So even when he’s seemingly passive he’s active. He manipulates others into giving him what he wants. Case in point, he manipulates the fact that Armand cares about him more than he cares about Armand to save his own skin while Armand’s entire life falls apart because of it. He manipulates Claudia by lying to her and forcing her to keep up a pretense she didn’t need to. Going back to last season, he even manipulated Lestat into making Claudia in the first place.

Louis has so much of Lestat in him that he manifests it as conversations with Lestat’s ghost. At the start it was Louis’ guilt, but then this pretend Lestat becomes Louis’ yes man and secret thoughts. Then, finally, Louis hits the center of his own personal Westworld maze and accepts that “Lestat” is his own inner voice. The vision of Lestat vanishes and Louis takes purposeful, active steps to affect change.

And Louis’ first action with those active steps? To say hey, let’s completely destroy the way your coven has been running for hundreds of years.

Gosh that sure sounds familiar.

All of this handled so perfectly, so baked into the story that it feels natural. You can sense the way Lestat’s influence has spread through the vampire world like an infection - and just as dangerous and deadly - without the show needing to spell it out to you. Yes, Daniel last week and Armand this week pointed out the small world of former lovers Louis, Lestat, and Armand made. But it’s one thing for them to have all known each other, another to pay attention to who managed to sink or swim based on their connection to Lestat, and why.

Which is why it gets me so damn frustrated when the show doesn’t use this same intelligence and attention to detail when it comes to issues that actually matter. So let’s get into that.

How AMC’S Interview With the Vampire Keeps Screwing Up the Important Stuff

Look, I don’t need a show about sexy gay vampires to address issues of racism. You wanna put pretty men on my screen getting groiny with each other with nothing more to it go nuts! I’ll say thank you and ask for more!

But the show itself brings this shit up. It does episodes that center around racial tension. Claudia makes “Yes, massa” jokes and calls out Lestat for being racist even though none of show Lestat’s actions ever were (book yes, show no). Okay then, so deal with the racism.

But it doesn’t. And it insultingly doesn’t.

I’ve kind of taken to calling this The Last of Us problem. Which is when an adaptation comes up with a new idea for the worldbuilding and then promptly forgets you can’t just state that new idea once and walk away from it. You actually need to take a look at the big picture and make sure that new idea got baked in everywhere else.

In The Last of Us it was the idea that you had to be careful where you stepped to not alert infected, which then resulted in nobody ever once taking care where they stepped even in the very episode that brought it up. In AMC’s Interview With the Vampire it’s that Louis was a free man of color instead of a slave owner and that Claudia is both older and Black as well.

Let’s start with Claudia, because that was the first of my heavy sighs.

The fact that she’s trapped in a role that infantilizes her when her entire vampire life is about being trapped in a body that does the same thing was great. She’s found the acceptance and family she longed for but it’s at the cost of the thing she hates the most. Perfect monkey’s paw result of her wish, fits nicely into the Gothic horror genre, no notes.

Here’s the problem, Claudia is still Black. And Minstrel shows were a thing. You know the caricatures of Black people you got in minstrel shows and also racist stereotypes in general? That they were, and lemme quote here, “dimwitted, lazy, buffoonish, cowardly, superstitious, and happy-go-lucky.” Yanno, exactly like Claudia is being asked to play as Lulu.

And then there’s her outfit. Dude, I didn’t even have to Google hard to find that picture. Come the fuck on now. (And here’s a few more if you think that’s a one off).

Now Minstrel shows have a long and complicated history that I don’t have time to unpack in terms of what they mean to Black culture. But the idea that racist stereotypes were what was built into them and that both Black people and performers suffered because of it is not esoteric information .It’s not even complicated information. “Hey, don’t do blackface, a thing that originated in Minstrel shows” is one of the easiest “Don’t be racist” layups out there.

So the fact that Claudia is being put through this Minstrel-style performance and it is never addressed, even when Louis finally speaks up to tell Armand it’s offensive, is just - seriously? Seriously??? You couldn’t even throw in half a god damn sentence to have Louis point out forcing Claudia to stay in that costume in public is doubly degrading because of her skin color and not just her apparent age?

Then there’s Louis. Particularly Louis when Armand is revealing his backstory. Now I’m fine for all changes to Armand from the books.. Make him older - and thankfully now we know he was in his late 20s when he was turned - make him a different race, all good. I also like that they took Armand’s book backstory of being a child sold into slavery and presented it as horrifying from start to finish. In the books Anne, who as I’ve mentioned before, frequently wrote about underage children seducing adults like she missed the part about how Humbert Humbert isn’t supposed to be a sympathetic character. So it was nice to see Marius being painted (heh) as horrific for using Armand that way instead of as someone who loved and cared about him.

The problem here - that The Last of Us issue - is that Louis both as a descendant of slaves and as a former brothel owner, ie the two huge changes to his backstory from the books - should be having much more of a reaction to hearing Armand’s story.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Louis should’ve been crying out, tearing his garments, and making Armand’s story all about him. I’m just saying there should have been something. Literally anything! Jacob Anderson is a great actor, tell him to give us a look of “oh shit” recognition on his face! Use Lestat’s function as Louis’ inner voice to have him say something. (Yeah, Lestat had that outburst but it wasn’t anything that read as either deeper understanding or guilt based on Louis’ history.)

And I know an argument could be made that oh, the show is being as subtle about handling this as all the things mentioned above about Lestat’s impact on the world. You, the audience, are meant to pick up on it without them hitting you over the head. But the thing is the show earned things like the Lestat stuff because we saw them do it. We saw in season one how even subtle details had big payoff down the line. The show has never done that with issues of racism.

Okay, sorry, once. It foreshadowed Louis putting a racist man on the fence of Jackson Square earlier in that episode. But that was it. Every other time when it’s come to showing that Louis actually is a character descended from slaves who grew up in the city where those very enslaved people were offloaded from boats and sold to the highest bidder, the show has again and again failed to do that. Egregiously so, as I talked about last week.

This lack of earned trust is compounded with the characterization of Madeline. Here we have to talk about translation from the books.

In the books Madeline is a dollmaker. She bonds with Claudia because Claudia’s forever five year old body effectively makes her a living doll. Accordingly, Madeline treats Claudia like something of a daughter.

Here they’ve changed the job to something more relevant to Claudia’s interests, and they’ve made the dynamic more of peers and even undercurrents of romance. Which in theory I’m fine with except…. Claudia is still in the body of a fourteen year old. I mean I know Delaney Hayles doesn’t look it but in the show it’s supposed to be hugely obvious that she can never be mistaken for anything but a child. Yanno, the crux of her entire storyline in this very episode?

So when Madeline is not only hanging out with Claudia who she thinks is fourteen, putting her hands on her as she fits her for clothes, and talks to her in detail about sexual experiences like she's been reading out of a Groomer 101 manual, it is super not a great look. Which would be fine if that’s meant to be the text! I would one hundred percent be okay if we’re supposed to realize Madeline is a creeper and it’s yet again part of the curse of Claudia’s life that the only adults she’ll ever be able to spend time with are ones who want to be with her for the wrong reason.

But the show’s not really doing that. Instead, the show is trying to present Madeline as a kindred ostracized soul - and that’s word of god from the producers in the behind the scenes footage that airs after the episode. Not even in the sense of how Claudia, as a vampire, is a lost but dangerous soul, but awww, poor Claudia and Madeline, they have no friends because people are mean!

Which like - okay let’s talk that. Because that also relates to how this show has earned zero trust when it comes to important issues like the Holocaust.

We find out that the reason Madeline is ostracized is because she slept with the wrong person. Except the person she slept with was a Nazi. Like - do I even need to get into the “Man you sleep with one Nazi and you’re forever known as the Nazi fucker” of this?

Because okay, sure! We’re supposed to feel bad for Madeline because she was so sad you guys! She wanted to feel alive while death was all around her!

Great. Now let me haul out that meme of the goose chasing someone while it’s honking “Because why? Death all around you BECAUSE WHY?”

Aww, he was only nineteen though you guys! Shy and a sweetie! That excuses it, right?

Sure! I’m sure loads of her neighbors would have loved the guy except for oh right, he’s one of the people starving them, taking their things, killing them, and forcibly deporting them into camps. Ooops.

But maybe he wasn’t like really into the Nazi thing! Maybe he was just doing what he was told!

You don’t even need me to answer that one, right?

But Madeline’s worst crime was she felt bad for him!

Yeah, if only we had a term for someone who felt sympathetic to those who wore Nazi uniforms, huh? Shame nobody ever thought of one.

So yeah. The show hasn’t earned trust here. Honestly at this point they just need to stop trying. Make this a completely different fantasy land that doesn’t resemble anything that actually happened in the real world, because woo boy they can’t handle it.


As always, things that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • I was taken aback by how casually Louis was in the audience at the theater considering he was supposed to be, yanno, dead by then. But I appreciated that the coven was upset about it, they were just choosing to be passive aggressive in communicating it
  • I liked how we’re seeing more of an obvious divide in the interview. Armand paints a nice picture and Louis undercuts it with reality. I also liked how they’re laying more groundwork for Louis’ memory issues with the photographs
  • It was interesting how much this episode centered Armand. It makes sense in a way since his quote is the source of the title. But for example when Louis is talking about how real Lestat was to him our focus is on Armand’s reaction in the background (beautifully acted, by the way). Then later when there’s a similar scene of Armand telling his backstory he again remains in focus while Louis and Lestat’s reactions are blurred out.
  • I’m going to give up on the whole “Stop saying du Lac like that’s his name!” thing because there’s greater things in the world to put my energy on. However, considering that de Pointe du Lac is also the name Louis has because it was forced on his enslaved ancestors (which, let’s remember, is only as far back as his grandparents) Louis later calling Armand by his original name could’ve and should’ve had a lot more resonance to it.
  • Likewise Armand points out that his arms are different from the painting but not his skin color? Long as he’s talking about his sense of self being erased?
  • I love how constantly low key catty Santiago is. Also that he’s the kind of dramatic bitch who would make sure to wear a cape when scoping out Louis and Claudia’s apartment.
  • Santiago immediately imitating Louis at the restaurant is a version of a scene from the books. Again this show does do a great job of including book references and making them feel natural instead of neon blinking lights of fanservice
  • “Oh, and her” was a great line reading. Kudos to Sam Reid
  • “Well for one thing I’m not in it” is perfectly Lestat. Loved it
  • I know that Anne’s vampires are forever stuck with whatever length of hair they had when they were turned, but man does Sam Reid look way hotter with his hair away from his face. Put that boy in ponytails more often.
  • “Why this suit?” Well, I mean someone wrote a whole article about it

And there we are! Here’s hoping next week they keep the focus on the tension of the story and move away from anything remotely resembling historical stuff. See you then when we find out!

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