PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

'Being Human' Reveals What's Human in Monsters

Survival has long been a theme in Being Human, one reinforced in this season premiere by a second "supernatural trinity", living parallel lives to the originals', in Southend-on-Sea.

Being Human

Airtime: Saturdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Russell Tovey, Leonora Crichlow, Damien Moloney, Michael Socha,Alex Jennings
Subtitle: Season Four Premiere
Network: BBCA
Creator: Toby Whithouse
Air date: 2012-02-25

Being Human's Series Three ended on a heartbreaking note, the death of tormented vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner). The new series' premiere, which airs on BBCA on 25 February, begins on a future earth ruled by vampires. These scenes depart from the series' usual sense of intimacy, instead offering images that lie somewhere between 1984 and I Am Legend. These broadly post-apocalyptic scenes are mercifully brief, however, and soon give way to the present day, when Annie (Lenora Crichlow), Nina (Sinead Keenan), and George (Russell Tovey), are hoping to survive in Wales.

The trio is currently contending with the orphaned werewolf turned vampire slayer Tom (Michael Socha), who is stalking his prey while working in a greasy spoon and living in his adoptive father's van. The episode offers a few more shifts in tone and focus, as Tom's exchange with chirpy customer Dewi (Darren Evans) turns from amusing to shocking, when notice of another death is dropped casually into their dialogue. Not showing it suggests that the characters now live in a world where such losses are commonplace.

Throughout this episode, as it has in past series, Being Human combines cheery sitcom humour and abject misery as a means to convey its overarching theme, that is, family as an essential element in human experience. As the monsters seek stability in their makeshift family, and as they seek meaning in apparently senseless acts, they're simultaneously vulnerable and unstoppable, fierce and caring. Where Mitchell used to look for order in a prophecy (which was, in fact, only a revenge fiction created by one of his victims), Annie now creates a mythology around the deaths of her friends to help her survive.

Of course, survival has long been another theme in Being Human. Here that idea is reinforced by a second "supernatural trinity", living parallel lives to the originals', in Southend-on-Sea. While the primary trio copes with their losses, the old werewolf Leo (Louis Mahoney), ghost Pearl (Tamla Kari), and vampire Hal (Damien Molony) are facing their own impending crisis: Leo, who anchors his friends to the human world, is ailing and won't survive many more transformations. The group's impending loss makes them immediately sympathetic, despite their awkward or hostile interactions with the trio we already know.

It also helps that we see Leo and his fellows in scenes where they share a familiar domesticity in Southend, scenes that indicate how they see the world around them, as well as each other. When Leo receives a hopeful message from beyond the veil through his radio, he and his cohorts go in search of a child in Wales. This brings them into contact with George and the daughter he fathered with Nina. Even as Leo is on something of a mission, Moloney's nuanced performance makes him seem like the anti-Mitchell, prim, obsessive, and self-controlled. But if he lacks Mitchell's brooding glamour, Leo is also of great interest to his fellow vampires, as an Old One who lives apart from the rest of his kind.

Leo's differences are not nearly so pronounced as those embodied by the series' new villains. Wyndham (Lee Ingleby), a vampire who made a brief appearance at the end of Series Three, is supplanted by Griffin (whom Alex Jennings plays mostly to type, as a cold parody of a King and Country old soldier with the stiffest of upper lips). This new vampire reveals a plan to snatch George and Nina's baby, in order to present her to the Old Ones as a trophy in the war between werewolves and vampires.

As Griffin and his fellow vampires prepare for the Old Ones' arrival, we also find out a little more about the structure and history of vampire society, since older and younger generations disagree on how to dispose of the human race. Though Griffin and his scheme suffer for their slightly campy silliness, the outcome proves chilling enough. As it turns out, the baby's significance is greater than Griffin suspects, launching a potentially intriguing series-long story arc, like the "wolf-shaped bullet" of Series Three.

As before, horror fans looking for creature-feature chills won't find what they want in Being Human. The special effects won't keep you up nights, the transformations and the blood remain un-frightening. Instead of such visceral sensations, the show reveals what's human in monsters and vice versa.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.