Perhaps one of the biggest surprises on television recently was the new adaptation of Anne Rice’s timeless novel, Interview with the Vampire. First adapted for the big screen back in ‘94 with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, the small screen adaptation allowed for more time to explore the book’s queer elements and more thorough exploration of the novel’s themes. But in this modern content-oriented world, just adapting Interview isn’t enough – we have to have Anne Rice’s Immortal Universe.
The second series to join the universe comes in the form of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, based on Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy. The White Lotus’ Alexandria Daddario stars as Rowan, a pediatric neurosurgeon who discovers she is the heiress to the Mayfair dynasty. Haunted by a malevolent entity, she must search through the shadows for her destiny.
From the beginning, Mayfair Witches clearly pales in comparison to the (mostly) acclaimed Interview adaptation. While Interview felt lavish and prestige, Mayfair Witches feels considerably lower in budget. Cheesy and often melodramatic, the series is rather tedious to get through. At eight episodes, Mayfair Witches can feel like a slog. There are considerable lulls in pacing that threaten to derail viewer engagement throughout the series, and with so many other similar shows on the market, the series needs to try harder to keep your attention.
Therein lies a problem with Mayfair Witches – it is derivative of much better shows like it, and does very little to carve its own identity. Anne Rice’s name and the universe it finds itself in does a lot of the heavy lifting; without the Rice branding, Mayfair Witches would probably pull in far less viewers.
It’s not all bad, though. Performances are fine – Daddario continues to be a magnetic performer, while Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) is a terrific villain. Clash of the Titans’ Harry Hamlin brings some old-school elegance, too. But the dialogue the cast have to work with is often clunky and cliché, and the aforementioned low-budget visuals certainly don’t help.
Mayfair Witches is yet another example in contemporary media of forcing an extended universe out of success, with diminishing returns. Interview with the Vampire was a magnificent adaptation of Rice’s iconic novel, and comes highly recommended. Mayfair Witches, on the other hand, is a weak and disappointing exercise in desperation to build a brand. With a second season greenlit, though, it remains to be seen if there’s still time to better utilise the show’s source material and talented cast.
Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches: Season One is available now on Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray from Acorn Media