One of Being Human’s great and revealing moments comes in series two, when touchy-feely ghost Annie attempts to hold a house meeting to talk about feelings. Werewolf George has infected and subsequently lost the love of his life, while vampire Mitchell is struggling to hold back a bloodbath of vampiric carnage in the wake of an abstinence attempt. Their solution to these heavy burdens? “We should get really drunk.” The domestic minutiae of their lives is so much more important to them than any supernatural trauma that it isn’t until BBC3 moves The Real Hustle to an unknown time slot that their angst really erupts.
When first conceived, Being Human was rather different in style – the story of a drug addict, agoraphobe and anger-management patient who attempt to overcome their issues by leading normal lives in a house together. Quickly the script was tweaked a little to involve a supernatural element, but Being Human was at its best where you could almost forget it was related to the fantasy genre. Its strength always lay in the little moments: the normal interaction that showed the relationships between the characters whilst demonstrating the inherent absurdity of a vampire, werewolf and ghost sharing a house in the South West.
Yet as time went on the premise was diluted, and the show became something of a Poundland knock-off of True Blood or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with shadowy corporations, prophecies, vampiric elders and messiahs that belied the early days of three people sitting in a house together drinking a hell of a lot of tea. Once initiated, the stakes (no pun intended) had to be raised every year. This didn’t make the show bad, mind you – merely less unique. As each character had their solo adventures, it also became less focused on the group dynamics, and the mythology of the series became less consistent (can vampires drink stored blood? Was werewolf blood always poisonous?) It seemed there was no going back, and once key cast members began leaving it appeared that Being Human was a spent force.
And yet, appropriately enough, the series rose again. Surviving its re-casting remarkably well compared to other shows, the series continued with new vampire-wolf duo Hal and Tom, and eventually replaced Annie with the less insipid Alex. In a house-share, it makes sense for people to move on, and it didn’t feel too tenuous for more supernaturals to join the crew (unlike in Misfits). The new dynamic worked, and the show culminated in a commendable finale with Phil Davis in his element as a devilish Daily Mail reader. It might have lacked the bombast of previous finales, but it emphasised the choice the three characters made to become human, even in their refusal of an easy humanity. The throwback to the previous series was a nice touch too, though perhaps a little too fleeting, and the final shot of the three housemates watching Antiques Roadshow together seemed to end the series on a soft note.
But then that reveal reminded viewers that Being Human always had a dark and unsettling side. The simple reuse of a significant camera angle and the little origami wolf in the final shot left the show on a brave and almost upsetting note of ambiguity: one that could explain some of the less plausible (relatively speaking) departures in the episode’s plot. It wasn’t a perfect end, but Being Human was never a perfect show. Really, this was probably the best way it could have gone out – not dead and buried, but alive and kicking.