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‘The Originals’ Accurately Portrays the Aftermath of Violence and Toxic Relationships

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While The Originals (a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries) definitely romanticizes violence, it also discusses the disastrous consequences it can have on the different aspects of our lives. Ultimately, a show about blood-sucking vampires is bound to have extreme violence. And as the audience, we are not really outraged or disgusted by it, but usually, enjoy the brutality as entertainment. We all engage in appreciating the callous parts of various shows, and The Originals does not deserve all the blame for glorifying violence because the larger issue is in the industry itself. However, there does come a time when characters — either perpetrating the violence or being victim to it — need to address the deeper toll it takes on their mental health, community, and the world. And The Originals shows those other aspects of violence beautifully.

One of the core romantic relationships is between Hayley and Elijah (their ship name is #Haylijah). After waiting for three seasons, fans were ecstatic when in the current fourth season their relationship became official. Both Hayley and Elijah have faced violence and inherently will do whatever is necessary to protect their families. But this current season is brilliantly exploring how fundamentally wrong it is to justify all means (their violence) by an end goal (protecting their families). Hurting whomever they please and being swift and thoughtless to everyone around them has major consequences. And with Hayley’s child in the mix of it all, those consequences become much more dire and terrifying.

#Haylijah’s storyline recently took a turn after Elijah’s death and Hayley had to save him by entering into his mind troubled. The Man Behind the Red Door, a metaphor for all the terrible deeds Elijah has committed, violently attacked Hayley. After Elijah was saved, instead of forgiving him, Hayley backed away and began to rethink their relationship. Hayley concluded she was miserable repeating the same broken, brutal cycle, realizing that she couldn’t rely on Elijah to stop his violence, because he was just too sporadic. The one she loved was now the one attacking her too.

The Originals surely could have written the script with Hayley running back into Elijah’s arms and forgiving him because “it’s all okay,” but they didn’t… they kept it real. They gave her agency and taught a message to us viewers that we shouldn’t be staying in problematic, abusive relationships. And furthermore, in our heated political climate, portraying her choice with dignity means everything. The Originals added another voice to the conversation about abusive relationships and violence against women, hopefully teaching its audience that this type of extreme violence isn’t okay. It directly showed the importance of advocating for ourselves and how it is completely within our right to end relationships when we feel unsafe. Some fans obviously haven’t been too happy that #Haylijah has ended after three seasons were spent cultivating the romance. However, it is an underlying problem that as fans of any show we ship characters in unhealthy and unsafe relationships.

Women in entertainment ought to be portrayed as individuals who stand up for their mental and physical safety. We should be seeing more and more examples of characters leaving toxic relationships. Even though they have invested time and energy into the relationship, it doesn’t mean that they owe anything to their partners (and audiences have to be taught that). The Originals conveyed to us that Hayley’s feelings were valid, and showed us how we should have the same agency she did in leaving the violence. And as a viewer, I couldn’t be happier that there is such positive message in such a dark show like The Originals.

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Written by Lynsey Neill

I enjoy long walks on the beach, and the occasional cliché. Amongst writing, reading, TV, and chocolate. Copious amounts of chocolate!

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  1. While this article was probably written with good intentions, I think it completely glosses over TO/TVD’s bigger issue: the fact there IS so much violence against females on the show. I see what the writers of the episode was trying to do, but it was done with such a heavy hand and in such a cowardly manner. Instead of manufacturing a brand new scene depicting violence against Hayley, why not just directly address the virulent dysfunctional relationships that already exist. Did Kol not violently attack Davina last season, killing her only to get his happily ever after in this same episode where you are applauding the writers for addressing violence/abuse? How about addressing Keelin, who was imprisoned by Freya, now in a relationship with her captor? Shall we rewind back to TVD where these TO characters originated: Klaus, who hunted down those teenagers and pursued a romance with a character who he has repeatedly tried and nearly succeeded to kill? Or Klaus, slapping Elena across the face (trying to kill her repeatedly)? Or how Klaus treats his black witches and counterparts as little more than slaves to do his bidding? Or Elena being stalked by Elijah and only suceeding when she stabs herself in the stomach? Or how about the criminal way the shows treat black men and women, asian men and women, and LGBT characters (all they’ve killed, some several times over.) So am I going to applaud them for manufacturing ANOTHER violent scene against a woman just so that we can pat these smug writers on the back and say “good job!” I THINK THE F*UCK NOT.

  2. This article parrots exactly was writer Carina MacKenzie said. Nothing new. But I’m surprised at the articles jumping on the bandwagon lately. Klaus was emotionally and once or twice physically abusive to Hayley almost the entire time she was pregnant and then afterward as well violent toward her. Then when she (with Elijah’s help) tried to get Hope away from Klaus to save the child from Klaus’s violence, Klaus violently punished Hayley and took her daughter from her for 6 months. Marcel also endangered unborn Hope and pregnant Hayley was injured during one of his murderous events. And I didn’t see any articles about these incidents or all this abuse then. Fact is the only person who stood by Hayley that entire time was Elijah from episode one, moment one of meeting her. He supported her choices again and again, saved her countless times, and practically worshipped her. Elijah is the reason Hope is alive. He wanted her and protected her before either of her parents even wanted her. Now, suddenly the writers want to push an agenda and suddenly say Elijah is toxic and abusive to Hayley and Hope based on one single incident when he was not only dead, it was all in his mind, and he didn’t even know who Hayley was. Absolutely ridiculous. Bad writing and inconsistent. And the hypocrisy is insane. In the past when other characters literally abused and neglected Hayley, most of the fandom and even some of the reviewers were on Klaus’s side or whomever else was responsible for various abuses and toxicity. But then the writers have been on a campaign recently to destroy the character of Elijah who was a huge fan favorite. All to prop their own biases and political agendas – onto fictional characters that are all vampires, werewolves, hybrids, monsters, killers. This isn’t a show like Handmaid’s Tale or even Colony for example that actually has real world relevance with human characters. Hayley isn’t even a human woman. She’s a hybrid and she’s dead and she’s a monster and killer herself. This is absurd to project real world significance and political and social statements onto supernatural creatures.
    And that’s not even to mention TVD and it’s enormous amounts of abuse including Klaus being violent toward Caroline and Damon raping Caroline and numerous other toxic and abusive behaviors. Same franchise, different shows, though. But still the hypocrisy.

  3. So, no, The Originals does not accurately portray the aftermath of abuse and toxic relationships. Not to any of the above that I mentioned or countless other incidents. Only one single time it’s been twisted enormously and warped characters out of character to suit the writers’ own personal agendas and issues. Bad writing, bad storycraft, bad product. It’s blatant and obvious and nothing about it is well written, meaningful, or relevant.

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