Sleepy Hollow and Dracula are two of the new fall dramas everyone is talking about. They are also exceptionally similar. Both loosely take their stories from classic works of literature while changing almost everything about them, both are insanely and wildly historically inaccurate and both strain the audience's suspension of disbelief. So why is one ridiculously awesome and the other is an unwatchable abomination? What did Sleepy Hollow get right that Dracula got so, so wrong?
I'll admit, the idea of Sleepy Hollow seemed insane to me. Taking Washington Irving's classic short story and making it into a modern day police procedural/monster hunter story? What the WHAT? It sounded so ludicrously stupid that I ignored it completely until everyone I knew was taking about how funny and well acted it was. "Orly?" thought I. I watched the first episode with trepidation and found myself gleefully sucked into the show. It's completely bonkers and so much of it doesn't make any lick of sense. They're getting American history wrong, they're messing up legends and folklore. Usually that stuff bugs me, but Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie are so charming that it's easy to overlook all the (massive) problems the show has such as a child from Roanoke only knowing Middle English or making easy mistakes about the revolutionary war. Tom Mison takes his role as Ichabod Crane almost TOO seriously, he's adorable in his inability to open car doors and the childish delight on his face when he eats a donut hole is just purely amazing. He's incredibly fun to watch.
On the other hand, I was very much looking forward to Dracula. It's one of my favorite books (even if the epistolary style bugs me) and it's always interesting to see how it's recreated over and over again. The show is also a historically inaccurate mess, full of inconsistencies and so many EASILY RESEARCHED mistakes that it makes me want to tear my hair out. There are Victorian ladies kissing men they aren't married to in public and their clothing is so deeply inaccurate. Mina Harker dresses like she's from the 1950s, wearing breezy polka dot blouses and berets. Another character wears mens trousers as she practices with weapons that wouldn't reach England for years. I mean, come the fuck on. It would take five seconds of Googling to know that isn't right and it comes off as the people behind the show simply not giving a damn. It's LAZY. Dracula himself isn't much better, walking around with a truly terrible Texas accent and working together with Van Helsing. It's mind boggling in how terrible it is. Dracula somehow has a katana, and photography is treated like instant Kodak film. None of this is right and it makes the show truly awful in every single way. I can barely even hate watch it.
So where did Sleepy Hollow go right? By all accounts, Sleepy Hollow should be getting just as much ire as Dracula but it isn't. There is so much wrong about the show but it's easily handwaved away by the outstanding cast. Dracula suffers from a weak cast (including the usually sexy as hell Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is deeply attractive as Dracula but has the acting ability of a piece of wood. He's totally phoning it in). I'd watch the Sleepy Hollow cast doing laundry. I'd only willing watch the Dracula cast if a firing squad was involved.
It isn't just the cast though. Sleepy Hollow is just more interesting. The Headless Horseman has been turned into one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Ichabod and Abbie are Biblically prophesied to be the ones to stop him. There's so much crazy secret history and shadowy secret societies that I'm stunned that Dan Brown isn't one of the writers. And yet, somehow, it all makes a crazy kind of sense. Having the Headless Horseman be one of the Four Horsemen is inspired and kind of awesome, if I'm honest. Meanwhile, Dracula falters on it's boring plot. Dracula is using all his preternatural power to get a controlling interest in a British coolant company? The hell? He's being presented as this Tesla-like figure and yet he doesn't seem to do much inventing at all. Mina is working to become a doctor while Jonathan is a journalist. None of it is interesting and seems almost cliched.
Sleepy Hollow has heart. It doesn't take itself too seriously. It almost seems to know how absurd it is and embraces it. Even when it goes off the rails, like this week's sin eater episode, it's still so damn fun to watch. Dracula, unfortunately, has no heart. It takes itself too seriously and has drained all the fun out of what had the potential to be a truly epic drama. It's a sepia-tinted snoozefest.
Do you watch Sleepy Hollow or Dracula? Disagree with my assessments of those two wacky shows? Let me know in the comments! And may the best crazy, historically inaccurate drama win!