One of the more confusing aspects of FX's vampire epidemic drama “The Strain” is what the exact state of things is in New York City, how much of the city is actually under siege by the strigoi, and how many ordinary citizens know the nature of the threat the city is under. In some scenes, the city has descended into complete post-apocalyptic dystopia, with strigoi freely roaming the streets, stores looted, and everyone cowering in their homes. In others, life seems to be going on exactly as before, with business being conducted as usual, and even a ribbon-cutting ceremony covered by a familiar crowd of reporters and onlookers. Some civilians are depicted as completely oblivious about this supernatural infestation, while others refer casually to the idea that there are vampires preying on them.
Unsurprisingly, when the show's producers visited press tour this afternoon, they were asked to clarify the state of emergency in the Big Apple.
“There is dislocation in New York, but there is not full-scale social demise,” explained Carlton Cuse. “It progresses across this season and the next season of the show. There's a lot of willful denial. I think there are people who are trying to go about their lives in New York. It's kind of a mixed bag at this point.”
“The ribbon-cutting was kind of a photo op,” co-creator Chuck Hogan insisted. “A political attempt to show that things are kind of normal. We have to pick our spots about when to really show New York descending into strigoi-ness.”
“It's a process and an evolution,” Cuse admitted.
Another reporter asked why there hadn't been a huge national response to the crisis, given that the federal government is at least partly aware that bad things are doing.
“That's coming,” Cuse said.
Guillermo del Toro, who created the characters and this world in “The Strain” novels with Hogan, added that the two seasons have taken place over a far more compressed time period than some viewers have assumed.
“It's a matter of days; it's not six weeks of this stuff,” del Toro said. “The burning of the buildings is happening on a matter of days. The quarantine is in the city. It's happening very fast. Across 13 episodes, it's the same timeline as 'The Simpsons' years. Why does Bart not age and is 45 and have a drug addiction problem? We have 13 hours of television. That could all be happening in six days, 10 days, 11 days. It's hard to do it without tracking it, 'Day 1, Day 2.' At some point, we contemplated doing that. We thought it would be great to end the first season with buildings burning and saying, 'Day 6.' But we abandoned that. I don't know why.”
And what exactly does the average New Yorker know about the existence of vampires among them?
“I think there are different people who believe different things,” said Cuse. “I think there are people who believe there are vampires, other people who are discovering there are vampires, other people who are in a state of willful denial.”
It's unfortunately not a thing that's been conveyed well on the show, which makes it a huge distraction whenever the action shifts from New York as a desolate hellscape to New York as a busy place enduring a slight inconvenience.
What does everybody else think? Do you think the show has handled that aspect of the storytelling well, or poorly? And how do you feel about season 2 so far? Are you excited that FX ordered a third (and that Cuse has spoken frequently, as he did today, about a plan to do only five season)?