I’d like to claim that I was first persuaded of the virtues of conservatism from F. A. Hayek, William F. Buckley, and Ronald Reagan, but the truth of the matter is that it was science fiction that made me conservative. I see the Democratic Party in the Borg, who really just want power, not diversity, and who seem to believe that “resistance is futile;” post-9/11 America in “Battlestar Galactica,” and the kind of freedom missing from America in the ill-fated “Firefly.” Only in worlds where death and taxes were optional could I imagine a world where taxes (and maybe even death) were optional. By allowing the mind to tease out the implications of each of these worlds, we can better understand our own.
The storyline of SyFy Channel’s “Being Human” is simple enough, but its simplicity is its genius: three twenty-somethings share experiences in their struggle to live normal lives despite being supernatural creatures: a ghost (Sally), a werewolf (Josh), and a vampire (Aidan). At issue is a fundamental conservative question: can you choose good when you have a fallen nature?
Each episode opens and closes with a narration, like this one, from Josh: “Every human spends a night or two on the dark side and regrets it. But what if you only exist – on the dark side?” Can you still choose to do the right thing?
The argument from “Being Human” is that you can, and indeed, ought to be, and one of the institutions, and perhaps the only institution, that can keep you on the straight and narrow is the family. Josh, Aidan, and Sally all want to be a part of family. Josh even wants to get engaged to Nora, a woman he loves but accidentally turned into a werewolf. It obviously complicates their relationship, with her telling him, “I didn’t want it to be like this. I wanted us to be happy. Not be together because we’re monsters.” And yet, their love conquers their nature.
Of course, “Being Human” isn’t the first fantasy involving vampires that wrestles with the issues of “free agency” or individual choice so much a part of modern drama. That honor would go to “Twilight,” whose author Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon (Mormons place a heavy emphasis on individual choice and do not believe in original sin, for example).
“Being Human” is also one of the rare shows to deal with faith by discussing what life is like after death or suggesting the possibility of reincarnation and exorcism. At one point, another ghost tells Sally, the victim of a murder, that suicides don’t want to transition to another plane of existence because they know what awaits them. At another, Aidan and Suren, one of the head vampires, discuss being eternally damned.
The show even allows them to entertain the possibility of the divinity of Christ. Aidan, the vampire, wonders with another vampire, Priest, if Christ himself might be a vampire.
Aidan: So you think that God wanted you to become a vampire.
Priest: Well, if God made everything, then he made vampires, too. Jesus himself rose from the dead.
Aidan: Oh, are you saying that Jesus was a …
Priest: Gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
This might be sacrilegious, but note that they don’t doubt Christ rose from the dead or that there is a God.