Kindred The Embraced

By Kraven The She-Wolf

     On April 2, 1996, a new kind of vampire series came
on the airwaves on FOX television.  The show was Kindred:
The Embraced and was loosely based on the role-playing
game Vampire: The Masquerade and although it was sadly
very short lived, it and its main star suddenly dying
tragically, for those of us who remember it, the show stood out among all of the series of its kind.

     Kindred: The Embraced played out more like a Mafia underworld crime drama than an all-out vampire
horror series.  This distinctive and unique feature is what made the show stand out and work so
well……and yet what doomed it in the end.  For those of us that got it, the show worked and was very
much enjoyed.  However, anyone thinking that this vampire series was an all-out horror fest would be
wrong.  Now don’t get me wrong, the vampire undertones were always there in the foreground, but it was
mixed with a mob mentality, romantic interests, police procedures, and a hidden society operating
alongside our own.

     Long before True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, or The Originals in which the leading stars of the series
are vampires themselves, Kindred did it first and led the way to show that the monsters could be a lead
performance in a TV series.  Like I said…..this series was unique!

     Kindred is the name given to refer to as their species as the word
vampire is a title humans gave their kind.  The series follows five Kindred
clans called the Ventrue, Toreador, Gangrel, Brujah, and Nosferatu.  Each
clan is governed by its own leader much like a mob boss of his family with
an overlord controlling all of the clans known as The Prince.  Julian Luna is
The Prince of his city as he fights to keep the five groups from straying too
far from their values and prevent all-out war between the factions.

     Each clan is its own breed of vampire with each having different
powers, interests, and morals.  The Ventrue clan, to whom Prince Julian Luna belongs to, are business-
oriented, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and bankers where Toreador clad are artistic types such as singers,  
writers, dancers, and artists.  The Gangrel clan are the punks, bikers, gamblers, and inherited rebels.  The
Brujah, much like the Ventrue, are stockbrokers, politicians and are power hungry for control of the city and
are very much the antagonists of the series as their desires clash with The Prince.

     The Nosferatu clan is the most unique and the most monstrous.  Unlike the other clans who can all pass
for human as they coexist alongside humanity, the Nosferatu members are all pale, bald, pointed eared
and rat toothed monsters and of course resembling the namesake from where their name derived.  
However, despite their outward appearance, the members in the Nosferatu clan are mostly gentle and
keep to themselves, living underground and shunning themselves from the rest of society as well as their
own kind.  Although still Kindred, the Nosferatu clan hate what they are and rarely interacts in clan actions.

     The vampires in Kindred when they bring someone into the fold and turn a human into one of their kind,
it’s called the Embraced and depending on which clad the new member is brought into depends on that
person's new persona.  Meaning if one is inducted into the Toreador clan, then that individual would have
all their attributes such as their affinity for art, music, and poetry.  If one becomes a Ventrue, they will be
more inclined to become lawyers or business owners and if turned Gangrel, they will be more free-hearted
and rebellious.  However, if one is turned by a Nosferatu member, they will take on the insidious
appearance of their kind and lose their hair, grow rat-like teeth and elongated pointed ears.  This
distinction between the different vampire races is uniquely present in Kindred The Embraced like no other
vampire in film, literature and television.

     The vampires of Kindred although different in many ways, they do share many attributes as well.  With
the exception of the Nosferatu clan, all can pass for humans as they hide in plain sight of humanity.  All can
walk in full daylight and are not restricted to a nocturnal existence although they prefer darkness.  The
effects of the sun only become a factor if they have not fed and becomes little issue other than the pilot
episode when a depressed Kindred commits suicide by allowing herself to burn in the sun’s rays.  They
also have enhanced strength and can change at will into wolves.

     As stated before, the members of the Brujah clan were the antagonists of
the series with their leader Eddie Flori played by Brian Thompson.  Eddie's
wishes to wage war among the clans to rise to power and become the next
prince was always a running theme of the series and just one of the obstacles
that the true prince Julian had to deal with.  Another issue that was the main
problem was that he was in the pilot under the watch by a human police detec-
tive who had the vampire in his crosshairs, not because he was a creature of
the night, but because he was believed to be a mob boss.  Although in a
manner of speaking he was….he was not a crime lord in that all of Julian
Luna’s underworld affairs were his leading of the vampire sub-culture that existed alongside our own.

     Although this series was a very different sort of vampire story with the creatures using modified guns
and bullets to attack and kill each other than resorting to fangs and claws.  There were times such as in
one episode where Julian had to fight a rouge member of the Nosferatu clan where teeth and claws were
very much part of the battle.

     The leader of the Nosferatu clan is Daedalus, a less repulsive-looking member
of his kind who is close friends with Julian the Prince. Despite his appearance, he is
attracted to a human woman and spends much of the episode trying to find a way to
be with her without her fearing him.  With the use of magic, he becomes more hu-
man for a single night with her only to be found out when she sees him for what he
really is.  He is hurt by her rejection and shows an emotional vulnerability that most
vampire mediums rarely showed at that time.  He was more than just a monster and
this series played to that strength for all its Kindred cast.

     Another episode followed the last existing relative of the long-lived Julian Luna
who is unwillingly embraced (turned) by the members of the Brujah clan to spite their
Prince.  However, she falls in love with Cash, the leader of the Gangrel clan, Romeo & Juliet style,  amidst
the impending gang war that is about to erupt when the Brujah plan to overthrow Julian.

     Another plot point in the series was the cop after Julian learns of their secret world and society.  Julian
also meets and falls for a human female reporter who is digging into their underworld activity but finds that
she is falling in love with him although she doesn’t know of his less than human abilities and longevity.

     Now remember, this series is in 1996 and predates much of what would come in the years later when
we see covert vampire civilizations living harmlessly (or not so harmlessly) beside our own.  Predating
Blade, Buffy, True Blood, Underworld, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Twilight, and other TV and films all
dealing with a vampire sub-culture coexisting next to our own.  It was the predecessor of all these shows
and films and all that was first orchestrated within this little series that only lasted 8 short episodes.

     These creatures also didn’t fall into the same old trappings as other Dracula type vampires in TV or
film.  The Kindred along with being able to walk in daylight, also slept in beds and not coffins an attribute
that would later be seen in Buffy, Angel, The Vampire Diaries, and The Originals.  They held down jobs,
own businesses, drive cars, love, and even have wanted dreams, and desires and they do have reflections
in mirrors.

     Remember these creatures are the show's protagonists and not since Forever Knight do we see the
creature of the night be the stars of a TV series.  It only goes to show that even monsters can carry a
series and be the protagonists.

     Maybe it was due to the fact that the series strayed so far away from the vampire mythos and people
just didn’t get it thinking in their heads that “This ain’t Dracula…..I don’t get it?  Remember, the vampires in
the series didn’t even refer to themselves as vampires…..although they inherently were.  Also the series
source material, the role-playing game Vampire The Masquerade, it also deviated from so it put off some
of its fans as well.

     There were talks about bringing the series maybe back for a second season.  But sadly its main star
Mark Frankel, who played the Prince of the City Julian Luna, was killed in a motorcycle accident, just
months after production wrapped in September 1996, ending any idea of bringing the series back as it

     On a personal note….I loved this series upon its release in 1996 and embraced its uniqueness and
found it refreshing.  It didn’t last very long on FOX in 1996, but the series has gone on to be shown on the
Chiller Channel in its entirety in 2010.  It is now on DVD, and can be found on YouTube as well.  If you are
sick of vampire hunting shows, movies, and the like then try something really different, Kindred The
Embraced is the difference you’re looking for.