This schism is itself addressed in the third episode. Contradictions abound, and when Eric Bogosian’s now-aged interviewer Daniel Molloy clobbers the vampiric interviewee about revisionist history, the fangs come out and the tapes get burned. In the first part of the novel, Louis hates Lestat. In the series, Daniel plays a portion of the original 1973 tapes where Louis calls himself Lestat’s “complete superior,” and concludes he had been “sadly cheated in having him for a teacher.”
By taking the issue on, the show redeems its mixed message. It also does it with a sense of humor sadly missing from the films, and underplayed in the books. Louis and Lestat may be deadly serious and seriously deadly, but their true talents lie in lethal assessments, snide asides, and wry takedowns.
Who would have thought Anderson, who frowned on trivial things like jokes when he played Grey Worm on Game of Thrones, could hurl straight lines with such comic accuracy? The repartee between Louis and all characters is a highlight, from the bitter banter with the jaded Daniel to the indulgent insolence reserved for the troubled teen Claudia. Lestat may get the better lines, and Reid excels in underplaying his caustic wit, but he thinks of himself as the more dangerous creature. He’s not, it’s Louis.
Anderson’s Louis is in a state of flux in many ways. Not only is there new blood pumping in his veins, but revolutionary thoughts in his psyche. In life, Louis has a good reputation as a man who runs a house of ill-repute. His undead street cred is a bit more complicated. Louis is a virtual vampire vegetarian, feeding on animals, as if stray cats don’t have families to grieve for them.
As a badass living brothel owner in New Orleans’ red-light district of Storyville, Louis maintained as brutal a hold as was necessary to ensure his business thrived. As a Black man in the south, regardless of his success, he’d been eating Jim Crow laws so long he barely noticed the bitter taste of the strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. But once he tastes blood, he bites the hand that feeds him. Anderson’s Grey Worm urged slaves to “kill the masters” on Game of Thrones. His newly turned vampire gets to savor that kill.
In the book, Louis is a white slave-owner with a sugar plantation, something his father ran to the ground before the events of the series. Slavery mildly flavors Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, where Lestat also feeds off slaves, but the aftertaste lingers. Race plays a far larger role in the series, at least in the beginning, while Louis still has ties to the human community he leaves behind in the book.