Monstrous Appetites and Positive Emotions in True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and The Walking Dead

in Projections

Looking at television series True Blood (2008-), The Vampire Diaries (2009-), and The Walking Dead (2010-), this article analyzes positive emotions in horror: the sexual emotions, trust, and hope. The article starts by substituting the positive-negative dichotomy of emotions with seeing emotions as coming in a “package“ (Solomon) and having a “story“ (Frijda), thus working together and not in opposition. It goes on to discuss the interaction of predation and sex in True Blood, torture and trust in The Vampire Diaries, and disgust, despair, and hope in The Walking Dead. The article then considers horror emotions, positive and negative, from a functional and evolutionary perspective. Comparing horror to play fighting and fiction to the pretend of play, the article suggests four reasons why horror is attractive: we learn to feel emotions (sensation), to react to emotions (evaluation), control our emotions (action tendency in the here-and-now), and to experiment (action tendency and planning for what comes next).