The most important thing to know about this show is the first four episodes are seemingly pointless; focused on cheap thrills, romance, and teen drama. Then something magical happens, creeping up silently and latching on without the viewer's notice: interest. By the end of the fourth episode the many story lines pick up and take off, and suddenly a silly or meaningless event becomes important. Things move fast in "The Vampire Diaries." This is a show that takes risks: people die without warning, stories that you thought could go on forever take only a few episodes, characters do and experience things you wouldn't have thought possible. Even better, there is no character who is wholly unlikeable. Everyone in the large ensemble cast has a story and a 3-dimensional structure, and even if the viewer decidedly doesn't like a character, the swing from one storyline to the next never lingers in one place for too long.
Some people have called this show their guilty pleasure. I refer to it as smart writing, good acting, excellent storytelling, and wonderful viewing. As of right now the second season is in the first few episodes of airing and the magic has not gone out. Far from it; this show only gets better. The lesser episodes are still fantastic, and the truly great ones are rich with everything an episode of television could possibly desire. I have yet to finish watching an episode without cursing the screen to give me more - my addiction to such a fresh show sometimes keeps me up at night.
For anyone (yes, even non 18-49 women demographic - we welcome the men!) interested in watching vampires, witches, and more, take the time to view beyond the first four episodes. I can almost safely guarantee anyone who likes vampires and horror (and a lot of dry wit) will not be disappointed.