Back in March, I wrote enthusiastically about Season One of Legacies, insisting that you didn’t have to watch The Vampire Diaries nor The Originals to enjoy everything Legacies has to offer. And that’s still true! However, as promised, I spent the hiatus binging The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, and I regret to inform you that I highly recommend doing exactly that.
This universe began with The Vampire Diaries in 2009, the expanded to include The Originals in 2013, which continued on past TVD‘s end in 2017 until 2018, which is where Legacies picked up the torch. So devouring all of these shows meant I consumed a decade’s worth of television in three months, which was a ride to say the least. Honestly, it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it was about these shows that drew me in and got me hooked, but my friend and I who were watching “together” (aka at the same time from different states) got through both series in an alarmingly short amount of time, and we couldn’t get enough. Despite being a bit of a vampire lore snob (thanks, Buffy), I was actually really intrigued by the mechanics of magic in this universe. I loved the large-scale metaphors. I was highly invested in the characters and their growth across the seasons.
The Vampire Diaries starts out with a bit of a Twilight vibe, with human girl Elena Gilbert meeting broody vampire Stefan Salvatore — which maybe is why I never felt the urge to watch it in the first place — but honestly the similarities end there. Over the course of the seasons, Julie Plec built a complex universe with a mix of vampires, witches, werewolves, and humans, and explored how they can all intertwine, how they work against and with each other, and how they all battle with mortality and humanity. And even though I did end up finding myself weirdly invested in m/f ships in a way I never could have anticipated, I’m here today to tell you about the queer legacy of Legacies.
Rebekah MikaelsonThe first hint of female queerness we get comes… frankly, too late into the series, and only by way of a threesome, but I gave it a pass because it was 2014. We’ve learned a lot since then. Also maybe I’m biased because it was one of my all-time favorite characters, Rebekah Mikaelson, doing the lady-kissing.
Rebekah is one of the original vampires, and even though her queerness was never really addressed ever again, she will go down as canon bisexual in my books forever and you can’t stop me. Also she’s played by Claire Holt who also played Samara aka one of Emily Fields’ girlfriends in Pretty Little Liars. Plus she, later, on The Originals, ends up trapped in a witch’s body, and that witch is played by queer Legends of Tomorrow actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Which is only queer-adjacent I suppose but worth mentioning.
Nora & Mary-LouiseThe next canon queerness we get comes two seasons later, in the form of two Heretics, aka vampire witches. Mary-Louise and Nora have been together for over a century, including a stint in a hell dimension, and though their relationship goes through a rough patch as they learn to adapt to modern times, their love for each other is an undercurrent to the whole season.
I loved Nora and Mary-Louise’s arc, because they came to us as a fully-formed couple, but then broke up and forged their own paths before finding their way back to each other. For a while it seemed like they were on opposite sides of a war but in the end, their love overcame all of it. They eventually got engaged, though their happiness would be short-lived. Unfortunately, they fell victim to the Slaughter of 2016, and together in a Thelma and (Mary) Louise blaze of glory, sacrificing themselves for others, they died a fiery death along with many of their queer counterparts that dreadful spring. Since I watched it so long after it aired, and since I knew they were doing better by queer characters by the time Legacies would come around, I was able to mourn them with regretful sadness.
Freya & KeelinAbout a year after Nora and Mary-Louise were taken away, The Originals revealed, by way of werewolf captive Keelin, that the witch sister of the Mikaelson vampires, Freya, is queer, too. Keelin and Freya’s relationship was a slow burn, but a delicious one. They both experienced so much trauma and loss in their lives, and finding a way to heal together was hard-earned. But the best part about Freya and Keelin? They got their happily ever after. Toward the end of the series, they have a beautiful wedding and their family is there to celebrate. In the series finale, they ask a mutual friend to donate his genetic material so they can have babies together. And despite all the sadness in the finale, despite all the people Hope lost over the years, as far as we know, her Aunt Freya and Aunt Keelin are still out there living their best lives, with little witch-werewolf babies. In fact, in Season One of Legacies, Hope calls Freya to get her off-screen help with a spell, and it’s already been confirmed that Riley Voelkel will be reprising her magical role in the new season of Legacies.
Everyone at the Salvatore SchoolSpeaking of Legacies, as far as I can tell, all of the students of the Salvatore School are one shade of queer or another. Penelope and Josie were our first confirmed bi+ teens, but as the series went on, it sort of seemed like these witches, vampires, and werewolves who were constantly being attacked by magical beings had no interest in labeling their sexuality. It was all but confirmed that Hope and Lizzie are queer too when Josie confesses that she had a crush on Hope and was afraid Lizzie would steal her so tried to keep it a secret. And Alternate Reality Hope and Josie were for sure flirting up a storm.
It’s pretty wild to see how much has changed since Rebekah’s threesome and Josie and Penelope’s breakup. In 2009, there were no queer characters on the show, but there were hardly any out, canon queer characters on TV. In 2014, the year of Rebekah’s tryst, things were a little better, but not by all that much. Glee wasn’t in its final season yet, Black Sails and Orphan Black had barely just begun, Lexa wouldn’t even exist until the end of the year; we were ramping up to, but hadn’t quite hit the peak of queer representation. And now, in 2019, we have a series from this very same franchise that has grown with the times and adapted to better reflect the people their show is reaching. Teens in real life are starting to reject the idea of labels because they can feel restricting and static, so the teens on Legacies do, too.
So what I’m saying is, the franchise has come a long way when it comes to queer women over the course of three series and almost exactly a decade. (And women in general… Rebekah and Bonnie really went through it.) And it was kind of awesome to experience that growth over the course of a summer.
There are little lore things about Legacies that are enhanced by having seen its parent series — the twins’ namesakes, knowing more about The Merge, understanding how vampires and werewolves work and what a siphon witch is — but that aren’t strictly necessary to enjoy Legacies. There are a few cameos that are more impactful for having watched (minorly Matt and Jeremy; hugely Jo in episode “Mombie Dearest”), but probably the biggest shift between my first and second watches was the way I perceived Hope. During my first watch, I knew Hope carried around a lot of sadness, and was precocious and slow to trust because of her tragic backstory. But what I didn’t realize that The Originals has Danielle Rose Russell’s Hope in it (for some reason I had assumed there was a huge time jump between The Originals and Legacies, but the time jump happens within The Originals) and you really see her go through it. The loss and trauma she experienced (and the associated guilt) has really shaped her, and also because I had known the people she lost long before I met her, when I watched Legacies the second time, I was in mourning right alongside her.
The new season of Legacies starts on Thursday, October 10th, so while you won’t have time to binge all of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals by then, I do recommend trying to get in some Freya/Keelin episodes or fanvids before Freya arrives in episode six. And in the meantime, I’m glad at least I have the historical knowledge that I can impart when I keep you updated on the queer goings-on in Boobs On Your Tube every week!