It’s not easy for a teen show to transition into its college years — just ask the Powers That Be behind Saved by the Bell, Gossip Girl, and The OC. In order for The Vampire Diaries Season 5 to be successful (and not fail its freshman year), it's going to have to avoid making its predecessors’ mistakes. So before TVD steps its foot on campus, here are three ways Julie Plec & Co. can avoid the dreaded college curse.
1. Don’t add too many new characters. We’re not going to lie: we’re already nervous about the number of new characters in Season 5, especially because it looks like some of them will be sticking around. Look, we get it. You gave The Originals — arguably the most compelling group of vamps in Mystic Falls — their own show, made badass vampire Katherine a human, and (kinda) killed off Bonnie, so you need a few more warm bodies to even out the playing field. But don’t forget about our core group — they’re the reason we watch the show.
Why does Caroline need a college crush? Didn’t she just proclaim her love for Tyler before kicking Klaus to the curb? In addition to college upperclassman Jesse, expect to meet Nadia, a European beauty who shared a tryst with Matt and Rebekah in Prague, and Megan, who meets Jeremy at the 1950s-themed Decades Dance. Also joining the cast this season? A “male doctor who knows all of Damon’s secrets.” Wait, what happened to Dr. Fell?! See, our heads are already spinning from all the new additions.
2. Find a balance. With Caroline and Elena off at Whitmore College, Damon, Matt, and Jeremy back in Mystic Falls, Bonnie in ghost world, and Stefan at the bottom of a quarry, our central group is getting split in more ways than one. Sure, TVD fans are used to complicated storytelling, but shifting focus so many times throughout an episode can be confusing. It’s important that all of our main characters are part of the main plot or else individual storylines (and new characters) will start to seem trivial (yes, we’re talking about you, Jesse). That’s not to say the characters shouldn’t embark on their own journeys; after all, college is a time for self discovery and can be a great catalyst for character development. But we know that when it comes to fighting off Big Bads, our gang is stronger together than they are apart.
Now, that doesn’t mean Caroline and Elena should come running back to Mystic Falls every time Stefan sniffles. We know TVD has never been about school — Caroline and Elena spent a combined total of five minutes doing homework over the past four seasons — but we’d like to see them pushed out of their Mystic Falls bubble (especially Caroline). Plus, TVD is already casting a "hot, but not-so-nice professor" who will have a surprising amount of knowledge about Mystic Falls, so they have a reason to stay close to campus.
3. Don’t forget about Matt. Matt Donovan is the heart of The Vampire Diaries, and honestly, in Season 4, he kind of fell by the wayside (until he helped Elena get her humanity back). After a whirlwind European adventure with Rebekah, we expect Matt to come back to Mystic Falls a changed man. (How could one man spend an entire summer hooking up with Rebekah and not be changed?) We just hope he doesn’t change too much. Having a threesome in Prague is OK, but hopefully, he’s still the same ol’ Matt we fell in love with.
In fact, Julie Plec & Co. have the opportunity to tell a realistic story with Matt — that’s it’s OK to not know what you want to do with your life after you graduate high school. Glee did a lot of things wrong in its fourth season, but one thing they got right was Finn Hudson’s storyline. Watching Finn find his passion for teaching was a rare moment of sincerity for the FOX dramedy, and it’s something we want to see for Matt. We want to see him find his passion — even if that means he has to find it in the bedroom first. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be take the time to expand Matt’s storyline beyond “The Human Bandaid” this season. Maybe a human friendship with Katherine is exactly what he needs to spice things up.
Are you excited for the Season 5 premiere, TVD fans? Sound off in the comments to let us know what you’re most excited for.
Catch the Season 5 premiere of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fan-girl for all things Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time. She speaks fluent geek. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!