Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Being Human" means making big mistakes, over and over

The British supernatural dramedy "Being Human" gets a lot of mileage from the irony that its protagonists -- a werewolf, vampire, and ghost, seemingly primed to be part of a corny Halloween dad joke -- struggle at least as much with the human condition after becoming something other than human as they did before. In the second season, George, the werewolf, makes some particularly hard-to-watch mistakes, including rebounding from a touching, heartbreaking relationship with Nina, whom he accidentally turns into a werewolf, to a pro forma affair with a single mom whose young daughter is, we sense, creepily aware that George isn't what he seems.

Compared with Mitchell's transformation from kinder, gentler "on the wagon" vampire to merciless seeker of vengeance, and Annie's understandable curiosity about whether the priest and scientist who offer a supposed cure for lycanthropy might be able to help her, too, George is the main character I most want to shake by the shoulders until he sees reason. But true love will mess with your head, and breakups are tougher to shake off when one of you turned the other into a wolf-human hybrid.

"Being Human" mines from the horror genre some bloodletting and some exquisite suspense (observe the scene in which priest and scientist experiment on Nina, still a likable character, and ultimately stop just short of killing her in the process). I think it works best not as a melancholy friends-in-a-flat sitcom, but rather as a meditation on personal conscience and how we slip in and out of living up to our own moral standards. And, like most other stories of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, it's a tale of not fitting into society at large, and trying to come to terms with that somehow.