Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From Cinnamon Roll to Problematic Fav: A Laura Hollis Appreciation Post [Contributor: Melanie]

The second season of Carmilla has really been full of standout moments for Laura Hollis, and not necessarily in the most flattering way. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t good, amazing to watch scenes. And hey — she’s a growing girl and that ain’t always easy, especially when your first year at school is plagued with kidnappings, virgin sacrifices, and Lovecraftian monsters. That's not even including the amoral girlfriend, the confusing lines of loyalty, and a heck of a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. So here’s some real talk: the saga of how Laura Hollis went from cinnamon roll to problematic "fav" and it how crazy entertaining it was to watch that character evolution.

Back in season one, Laura was an adorable, gay-as-the-day-is-long, cookie addict with a lot of chutzpah and uncontrolled flaying. In the second season, she still is all those things, just with a little more sadface. She’s an awesome break from the typical leads you would encounter in supernatural romance — you know, the ones who end up being some kind of Bella Swan reject pretending that they’re Buffy. Laura is a modern day everywoman: she’s a frantic college student, she reads fanfiction, she eats exorbitant amounts of junk food, her pop culture vocabulary stretches from Veronica Mars to Dragonball Z. She’s quite possibly the most realistic depiction of a young adult there’s been in modern media in quite a while.

And while Laura spent most of season one on a bit of linear track with no real flaws or non-environmental issues (Carmilla was doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to character development), this season has widened Laura’s range. That, in turn, has lead to some fun consequences (definitions of "fun" may vary). Laura’s made all the wrong decisions this year. This character act has been one entertaining trainwreck filled with emotional breakdowns, shouting matches, and tears. And while she’s gotten her fair share of hate on Twitter and Tumblr, all of Laura's decisions have served to give depth to her character. Because, as many fans pointed out multiple times, we don’t know a thing about Laura.

The season finale was probably the greatest showcase of what a complicated character Laura really is underneath all that sugar and webcam mugging. After an eleventh hour decision to save Carmilla leads to some shock, catatonia, and epic levels of guilt, Laura shuffles through her conflicting emotions. And while not much is solved, all of the plot builds a pretty intense portrait of what is contained within Laura’s head. She knows now, too, all of the ways in which she massively messed up. Yet, as Carmilla pointed out, it’ll be okay. One thing I think that we can all definitely appreciate is that the writers of Carmilla delivered some real, tangible consequences and some solid character growth in Laura. Actress Elise Bauman played this character with some amazing honesty, calling Laura’s arc this season “a gift” and noting in a Periscope interview:
“My favorite thing about Laura is that she’s got a lot going on underneath what she presents to people... I kept in mind all the time that Laura feels responsible. She feels like it was her fault and that she needs to make amends for everything that’s going wrong with the school and that, to me, justified everything that she was doing... and that’s where she goes astray a little bit.”

So if you loved Laura Hollis for her quirks and cringed at her choices, that’s okay. She’s a real, breathing character now with a lot of stuff to work out, not just in the department of failed relationships, but within herself. Like all good coming-of-age stories, she’s asking questions that may change how she fundamentally sees herself. But that is necessary. Ultimately, Laura’s relatable, because even in the most supernatural of situations, her choices are intensely human. Few things in life are more awesome than seeing a female lead being treated by the writers and actors as a character study and not just some eye candy. So I applaud you Laura Hollis (and her creators Jordan Hall and Ellen Simpson) for being real, gritty, and still entirely sympathetic.
Check out the first two seasons of Carmilla on the VerveGirl TV YouTube channel and Season 0 on the U By Kotex YouTube Channel


  1. Fuck. That line about asking questions that may change how she sees herself... yeah... It might or might not have brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Such a great character study and on point!