Remembering Being Human

Being Human-banner

A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost move into an apartment together…what sounds like the start to a really lame joke is actually the premise for one of the most memorable TV experiences I have ever had. I once called Being Human my guilty pleasure, but there’s never been any guilt involved. It’s an interesting and unique story that surpassed my expectations at every step of the way.

Being Human was one of the most unique and engrossing shows I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and with its series finale having aired last night, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the show as a whole, and how much I’m going to miss it now that its gone.

I actually came across it by accident, believe it or not. I had heard about it before, of course, but never really sat down to watch it until I happened to find it on Netflix one particular night and remembered Sam Witwer, who plays Aidan Waite on the show, talking about it on his Twitter account. So I gave it a chance, and in its first five-minutes, I was hooked.

As cliche as that may sound, it’s true. I watched three, maybe four episodes right then and there, and finished the first season in a week. I connected with the characters of Aidan Waite, Josh Levison, and Sally Malik, a vampire, werewolf, and ghost respectively, in a very special way, and watching them grow and develop over the show’s four seasons has been an incredible experience.

Being Human-apartment
      Nothing to see here but a normal Boston apartment. Sort of.

Despite starring a trio of characters who lamented their lack of humanity, Being Human has always been about what truly makes us, well, human. Aidan struggles with a powerful addiction and a past that haunts him every hour of the day. Josh literally hates who he is, and lives in denial over it. Sally feels trapped in a world she never wanted, and struggles to find freedom. All very real, very human problems.

Sure, they might face some pretty crazy stuff from time-to-time, including, but not limited to, undead witches, some zombies (but not the kind you’re thinking about), and even a vampire-werewolf dance parties. Yes, you read that right. The trials the characters were faced with ranged from the terrifying to the hilarious, but still managed to feel relatable, which is quite the feat when you think about. And we have only the cast to thank for that.

Not since Firefly have I found a cast of characters that fit so well together. From the very first episode there was a palpable sense of chemistry between the three main leads, and their ironic sense of humor had me in stitches within a matter of minutes. This is a group of people who are very self-aware of how ridiculous their current situation is, and it gives the otherworldly premise a human element that helps ground it in a semblance of reality.

Sam Witwer absolutely nails the role of Aidan Waite, and is somehow able to turn a character who literally murders an innocent woman within seconds of his first on-screen appearance into a sympathetic character who you can’t help but root for. It’s a testament to not only how well written the character is but also how talented of an actor Witwer really is.

Being Human-vampires
Just another day in the life for Aidan and his signature leather jacket.

In one episode we would see Aidan arguing with his roommate over what to have for dinner, and in another there could be a flashback of him massacring an entire room of people with a group of vicious vampires. The range Witwer presented on Being Human was staggering at times, and while his character arc might be the most tragic of the show, it is also one of the most rewarding.

What really sold me on the show, however, was Aidan’s unexpected friendship with the self-loathing werewolf Josh Levison. Josh started out as an anchor for the audience, presenting a grounded perspective that helped to rationalize the crazy circumstances the roommates often found themselves subject to, and watching how his character transformed (sometimes literally) throughout the show was just one of the many ways Being Human impressed me.

Sammy Huntington consistently surprised me with his performance, and he, along with the fabulous writers for the show, were always finding new ways to challenge and evolve his character. The most notable way they did this was by introducing Nora Sergeant into the show’s dynamic, who offered a romantic interest for Josh that forced him to both come to grips with what he was and also accept that he could still have a life in spite of it.

The relationship between Josh and Nora wasn’t always pretty, but that’s what made it so good. It was far from your typical, primetime TV romance, and it got messy sometimes. Real messy. But the fact that they stuck it out amidst the horrible things around them showed just how committed they really were, and I can’t talk enough of how great Sammy Huntington and Kristen Hager’s performances were on a week-to-week basis.

Being Human-the mess
                               I told you things got messy…

And then there’s Meaghan Rath’s character Sally, the spunky ghost who made it her life’s goal to find new ways to stretch what it meant to be ‘dead.’ Sally’s character is perhaps the wildcard of the bunch, as she doesn’t really fit any kind of mold. Her character arc in particular was easily one of the more colorful, taking her from the halls of the apartment she died in to the depths of purgatory on at least two occasions.

What made her character work so well though was the way she balanced out the difficult, conflicted characters of Josh and Aidan. These were the three that started it all, and their ridiculous, often hilarious, roundtable banter gave the show a comedic element that gracefully alleviated the tension created from many of the shocking, violent things that were happening around them.

These were people who loved and respected one another, and the realism portrayed in their constantly evolving friendships was a breath of fresh air. Watching them fight for their friends, and many times, their lives, felt more relatable than many of the primetime shows that advertise themselves as being snapshots of the everyday life. Things weren’t always pretty, but when they were you felt like the characters had earned it.

Every season was consistently excellent, as the show made the rare and ambitious move to dedicate a single story arc to each individual season. This not only allowed for some real creativity in the plots and character development, but also allowed for a multitude of gleefully colorful villains to come and go as they pleased. The show was always evolving, and that’s one of the reasons I feel like audiences connected to it the way they did.

Being Human-couch time
           Here’s a good snapshot of what being human is really like.

I really can’t applaud the writers enough for the work they have put into the show. Along with the cast, they’re solely responsible for making Being Human the success that it was. Anna Fricke, one of the lead writers, has been very vocal about her passion for this series, and it showed in every episode she helped write, which all lead to a final season that felt like a love letter to the fans who had helped make it all possible.

Watching Being Human live, something I rarely do with TV anymore, became a necessity not only because I had to see what came next, but also because the cast would livetweet almost every episode over Twitter. Seeing the cast and crew interact with each other and with the fans created for some fantastic moments and inside jokes that went beyond the show itself and only made the bond I felt with the series grow even deeper.

While I would’ve loved to have seen the show continue on for at least one more season, the cast and crew made the gutsy decision to end it with Season 4 because budgets constraint would’ve left any further stories less than satisfactory to everyone involved. They were committed to telling the best story possible, and that’s exactly what they did.

Being Human-burger shop
Even supernatural beings enjoy a good burger joint from time to time.

They were able to end the show on their terms, and despite being sad the show has taken its final bow, I could not feel more privileged to have had four amazing seasons from a show I cannot wait to watch all over again. In its final forty-minutes, Being Human was able to tie up every single loose end and somehow give closure to characters who I thought might not get any.

Despite being a show about vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, Being Human has always been focused on the little things, the things that undeniably and irrefutably make us all beautifully flawed human beings. Being Human understood that in a way few shows ever have, and it has left an impression on me that will not be soon forgotten.

Being Human’s ending was bittersweet, but I don’t think it could’ve been any better. The cast and crew have given it their all during the show’s four season run, and have managed to craft a story that is relatable, exciting, and poignant without relying on a big budget of any kind. If you haven’t checked it out, I really can’t recommend it enough. Give it a try on Netflix, like I did, and just sit back and enjoy the ride. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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8 responses to “Remembering Being Human

  1. When I saw your review beginning with “a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost move into an apartment together”, I had the reaction you’d expect, but then I took a breath and realised that both Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, both amongst my favourite shows, sound just as ridiculous by premise. So glad I read on!

    EXCELLENT review, or farewell letter — truly well written and interesting, and oh, you have me sold on this one. I’ll wrap up some other shows and begin that then, because I’m truly intrigued. Seeing what’s still human in supernatural beings is one of my favourite things in that kind of shows, and all of the characters seem to be the kind I can absolutely grow to love. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Wow, thanks so much for the kind words! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did, it’s a really, really great show. Might need to start watching Supernatural myself just to fill the gap. 😉

  2. Hi Billy! I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of this one and I really like Sam Witwer! I know lots of people like the British version but tho usually I prefer anything British, for some reason I’m not that interested in checkint that one out. I might watch more episodes when I get a chance.

    • I’m normally the same when it comes to British shows, but this version just had me so hooked that I never once felt inclined to watch the other version, especially since the entire cast supposedly changes halfway through.

      Hope you keep watching Ruth, it only gets better as it goes on, especially for Witwer, who really does steal every scene he’s in. Thanks as always for stopping by!

  3. I watched the UK series and got about a third through it but I wandered off on it. This incarnation, though, I have yet to catch. (I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there) I may try giving season one a binge watch on Netflix. Good post, Billy! 🙂

    • I think you’ll like it if you give it a try, it has a really good mix of violence and intensity evened out by it’s characters and humor. If you do binge watch it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for stopping by, Vic, always appreciate it. 🙂

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