Reginald the Vampire is a weird show with a lot going on. Just check out the synopsis:
Imagine a world populated by beautiful, fit and vain vampires. Reginald Andres (Jacob Batalon) tumbles headlong into it as an unlikely hero who will have to navigate every kind of obstacle — the girl he loves but can’t be with, a bully manager at work and the vampire chieftain who wants him dead.
Fortunately, Reginald discovers he has a few unrecognized powers of his own. A new show with a lot of heart and just enough blood, Reginald the Vampire proves the undead life is just as complicated as life itself. (Syfy)
This review contains spoilers for the pilot, S01E01 “Dead Weight,” and thematic discussions, without spoilers, of the subsequent four episodes.
The “fat vampire?”
Reginald the Vampire makes a lot of fuss about Reginald’s (Jacob Batalon) weight. From his boss Todd (Aren Bucholz) to all the vampires to Reginald himself. It should go without saying that body shaming is not acceptable. Fat shaming is not acceptable. Beyond that, though, I was frankly confused by the fat shaming in this show.
I don’t know whether Batalon considers himself fat, and I’m not going to comment on an actor’s appearance. But he’s in the show, and he’s consented to the language, so that must count for something. However, I’d like to point out that Reginald the Vampire is set in Akron, OH, a state where nearly 38 percent of the population self-reports as obese. Furthermore, 12 percent of the “non-Hispanic Asian population” self-reports as obese (Batalon is of Filipino ancestry).
Oh no! They’re gonna talk about racism again. Well, yes. If you want visual proof of how beauty standards change by country, this photoshop experiment found that the “ideal” body weight for women models varied by about 40 pounds.
A few obesity-related non-profits have put out a guide about portraying obesity in the media. Seeing as Reginald is portrayed as lazy, and the show puts a lot of emphasis on his weight, I’d say Reginald the Vampire ought to take a gander at this guide.
I realize the show is based on a book series called The Fat Vampire, but I believe there was a way to do this more effectively and creatively. Punching up, not down, is always a great comedic tool. Why is it such an affront to the vampires that Reginald is fat? If that were explained, perhaps I’d feel less uneasy about it. Maybe if Todd, a human, didn’t join in on the fat shaming. Perhaps if Reginald himself loved his body. Gimme something to work with, show!
Perhaps as the season progresses, Reginald the Vampire will strike this tone better. I really hope so. The show has a lot of heart and is quite inclusive in other ways, so I wonder if they felt the need to be authentic to the source material.
Quirky characters with a heart of gold
Reginald the Vampire‘s quirky cast of characters is the reason to tune in. They’re the best thing about the show. For example, Reginald only sort-of-accidentally becomes a vampire because his sire, Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles), feels bad about Reginald’s lack of skillzzz with the ladies. They end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and vampirism ensues.
Em Haine is adorable as Sarah, though I do wonder if she borders on the Magical Girlfriend trope, but honestly, she’s so adorable I don’t know that I care. Bucholz, Savannah Basley, Christin Park and Marguerite Hanna round out the supporting cast, effectively cementing Reginald and Maurice as the comedic straight men.
Even when the characters are awful, they endeared themselves to me. The cast has an easy chemistry that makes you want to spend time with them.
Vampires are always kinda gay, huh?
Holy moly, Reginald the Vampire features a nonbinary character whose pronouns are they/them … and it’s just not a thing. While the show’s way of introducing their pronouns is so clunky it’s comical, we love to see the effort to avoid the audience misgendering them.
The camp! This is a vampire show on Syfy, so campiness is sort of a given. But some of the gorier aspects of the camp surprised me. I don’t mind it, but the show is more graphic than I expected.
I will concede that I completely misread a certain relationship as a gay romantic one, but hey, maybe that’s on me. Regardless, for the existing LGBT rep alone, I think queer fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would dig Reginald the Vampire.
Should you watch it?
Speaking of Buffy — that’s actually the best comparison to this show I can think of. From the colors used to the characters, Reginald the Vampire is reminiscent of Buffy. Though the five episodes I watched haven’t reached Buffy heights. But given enough time to breathe, I think this show could get there.
Despite the weird “fat-vampire” obsession, I 💯percent recommend you watch Reginald the Vampire. It’s certainly going on my must-watch list.
Reginald the Vampire airs on Syfy on Wednesdays at 10 pm. It premieres on October 5, 2022. 🧛