Anne Rice's Immortal Universe was the culmination of nearly fifty years of bad business deals, scandals, and squandered opportunities. The author desperately wanted to see her work onscreen. On her website, she claimed that her agent was constantly making contacts in Hollywood, hoping to find a deal worth their time. There were some well-known adaptations, as we're all aware, but what we saw was just the tip of the iceberg.
The author imagined lengthy television series, multiple seasons, and theaters packed to the brim with fans. She loved the cinema, and she was always quick to point that out. She was constantly talking about her favorite films--Rebecca and The Red Shoes. She loved the glitz and glam of old Hollywood, and she believed that her work could fit in with those fabled titles. But nobody could agree as to how it should be done, and Hollywood didn't think that fans were ready for homoeroticism and questionable morals.
When she signed away the rights to her work--a little over a year before her death--she must've felt like she had completed her bucket list. We can also safely assume that she was a bit concerned. Creative control was a source of contention for her. Interview with the Vampire was an allegory for the death of her young child. Lestat was her one great love. She spent decades pouring everything she had into those books, only to hand them over to a group of shameless profiteers. It must've been terrifying.
Previous adaptations of Anne Rice's work were subjected to constant scrutiny and scandal. She would hold speaking engagements chastising Tom Cruise and the creators of Interview with the Vampire, accusing them of diluting her books. It was a studio's worst nightmare. Most authors would've been blacklisted in Hollywood after what she did. But she was responsible for building a subculture of vampire freaks and witchy misfits. There wasn't a person alive who could deny the profit potential behind her work. So they kept trying, time and time again, until the moment of her death when they finally managed to make a deal.
The first installment in the Immortal Universe, Interview with a Vampire, was met with a mixed reception. They changed the time period, the look, and the character descriptions. The plot was a rough approximation of the book's, and it was obvious that their budget was lacking. They used fake city streets and building facades instead of real landmarks. Even the sky itself was the product of a green screen, and it showed. But the interest was still there.
The author had made such an impression on the public's consciousness that the premiere was said to be the largest in the history of the platform, reaching well over a million views. It was just announced yesterday that Mayfair Witches, an adaption of a separate trilogy, beat those numbers, topping out at 1.7 million views.
Fans might find the success of the new series surprising considering the many liberties they had taken with the plot. The fandom cares deeply about the faithfulness of Anne Rice's adaptations, and so did the author. She wanted to rekindle an old flame, not build a new one. But Mayfair Witches is nothing like the books. Multiple characters are missing. The plot is unrecognizable. The main character, Rowan Fielding, had a name change and an updated look. Many fans have pointed out that she was nothing like the woman they loved, and they're right. Rowan was a powerful woman, fiercely independent, and highly intelligent. This new Rowan, played by Alexandra Daddario is weak, desperate, and somewhat manipulative.
This may or may not matter to those who have yet to come into contact with the franchise. They haven't delved into the extensive lore or studied the family tree. They know nothing about the vast web of plot points Anne Rice created. They just want a good story, and they might get one. It's still too early to tell.
AMC+ wants people to think that it's popular so they can draw in more viewers. Announcements like this will change minds because, as usual, nobody is looking at the fine print. These viewership numbers pale in comparison to last year's biggest successes. House of the Dragon, for example, had ten million views when it premiered. Yellowstone's finale averaged 13.1 million. Even the Oscars, which has waned in popularity quite a bit, received 17.1 million views. Mayfair Witches is on the sidelines, pulling in strays and hardcore fans, and it has yet to prove that it can stand on its own.
Is Mayfair Witches Worth Watching?
Unlike Interview with the Vampire, Mayfair Witches is filmed in multiple locations. You will notice the green screen and the basic models. But you will also see the real sky, actual sunsets, and sunrises. That really adds to the production value.
The story is decent. There's suspense and an undeniable level of intensity. Like Anne Rice, they did a good job of capturing the barbed edge many of us are so used to in the old novels. But it's completely unrecognizable. It is not Mayfair. That will be a disappointment for hardcore fans.
Ultimately, it's a matter of taste. There are some moments that will pull you in and also a few distractions--things that might keep you from truly enjoying the show. Watch it, see what you think, and decide from there.