What would “Friends” be like if all the characters were dead? ... Oh, wow. Now that I think about it, it would be a vastly improved show. But then, that wasn’t really my point. I was trying to figure out a way to describe “Being Human,” a BBC Three import airing stateside on BBC America. The premise asks: What would happen if a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf all shared a flat in Bristol? While it sounds like the setup for a joke, “Being Human” is a mostly canny mix of supernatural drama and buddy comedy.
You pretty much can’t swing an exsanguinated cat without hitting some sexy-but-tragic young vampire/
Mitchell (Aidan Turner) is a quiet Irish vampire working as a porter in a hospital. He’s a basically nice guy who refuses to kill humans and is trying to go “cold turkey” on the blood. Brainy, Jewish and socially awkward George (Russell Tovey) also works at the hospital and more or less lives in denial of the fact that he transforms into a werewolf once a month. Mitchell and George are best mates and do their utmost to help control each other’s respective bloodlusts. Looking for a place to crash, it’s their good fortune to stumble across an apartment haunted by final main character Annie (Lenora Crichlow), a lonely, insecure ghost trapped in the place she once occupied with her two-timing fiancé. It’s The Odd Couple but with three people. And fangs.
While it could easily have been a silly fantasy, “Being Human” successfully mixes interpersonal angst, blood-spilling action and smartly written humor. The roommates certainly aren’t happy with their supernatural fates and are always looking for others who can help them out. Of course, most other vampires, ghosts and werewolves are rather evil and not much fun at parties—which leads to lots of juicy conflict. Turner is appropriately dark and sexy as the remorseful bloodsucker. Tovey is downright adorable as the dorky, jug-eared man-beast. And Crichlow nails the clingy, codependent nature of her ghostly girlfriend.
Perhaps the best element of the show is the surprising air of “normalcy” the creators have managed to build into this oddball situation. For all the mystical mumbo jumbo, “Being Human” feels like a lot of other modern, coming-of-age dysfunctional family dramedies. So if you like your undead but are over the whole abstinent teenage angst of Twilight, give “Being Human” a try.