Aug 7, 2011

True Blood, Season 1

I keep getting back to vampires. I don't know why, really, I haven't liked the concept since Twilight. Yet, for some reason the things I watch keep having vampires in them. I actually saw the first season of True Blood a while back, when it started airing, but I never followed up with Season 2, so I decided now is a good time to catch up on how the show has been going.

The setting is really cool - in a world where the Japanese have created a working synthetic replacement for human blood, two years ago vampires have "come out of the coffin" and are now public knowledge. They fight for equal rights, while new forms of entertainment, crime and pop-culture arise around them, but at the same time they are not the typical persecuted minority. Cause, see, they are vampires. Powerful, ancient, seductive, they are all we know from literature, and more. So sometimes the persecuted become persecutors, and then things turn bloody.

In the little Louisiana town of Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse (Ana Paquin) lives an ordinary redneck life as a waitress in a local bar. Sure, she is telepathic and open-minded (which, in the place she lives at, makes her a total freak), but other than that, she is just like any other southern gal. Until Bon Temps sees its first vampire. Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), son of one of the original founding families of the town, arrives to claim the family estate and settle there. The very first thing Sookie realizes about Bill is that she can't hear his thoughts. The second is that she is irrepairably attracted to him. And then the murders start.

It is easy to realize what True Blood is going for, but hard - for me - to describe it. The show is what you might call "messed up southern gothic". Vampires, swamps, awesome southern accents!!!, lots of sex, and all the white trash campiness that one could wish for. The show is very self-aware, and while the plot - a whudunit murder mystery - is serious, the attitude towards it is not. The entire vampire concept is an in-your-face allegory for gay rights and homophobia ("God hates fangs" and the opposing derogatory "breathers"), while the setting itself is so absolutely unrealistic - I mean, most vampires are so obviously vicious and evil - that you just know this is a show that wants to laugh at itself while still entertaining you. And if it turns out that it becomes too pleased with itself, and cuts the viewer completely out of the picture, well, apparently it's a risk Alan Ball (of Six Feet Under fame) is willing to take.

There is much to like about Season 1. The trashy campy style in which everything is presented (perfectly captured in the amazing opening theme) is a delight to experience, while the story itself is actually smart. You have barely any idea who the killer is until the next to last episode, and when the revelation comes, it is - again - painted in the same ridiculous smug-dumb way that everything else in True Blood works.

The characters are awesome. Sure, you want half of them to be quartered or defenestrated, but at the same time the acting is all-around great. The spot-light shines on Sookie herself, and Anna Paquin's impeccable (although completely fake) southern accent. She is sassy, self-dependent, and doesn't hesitate to tell everyone what's on her mind. Bill is her complete opposite - reserved, ever the dark brooding gentleman, and with a vocabulary from the 19th century, he is as vampire as one can be, and actually dangerous, unlike most vampire romance love interests.

The rest of the cast are all colorful, with everyone having some unique trait to remember them by. Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) is Sookie's dumb brother who basically tries to have sex with every female he could find, yet somehow still manages to always be in the center of whatever drama is going down around Bon Temps. Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) is Sookie's best (and only) friend - aggressive, sensitive to a fault (especially where racism is concerned), but also smart and caring in her own broken way. Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is the owner of the bar where half the characters in the show work. A decent and reliable guy caring a bit of a torch for Sookie, with a few secrets of his own. Lafayette Reynolds (Nelson Ellis) is Tara's cousin. Flamingly gay, a great chef, as well as drug dealer, go-go dancer, male prostitute and occasionally the Wise Black Dude when necessity calls for it.

Then of course there is Eric (Alexander Scarsgard) - the vampire Sheriff of "Area 5" - who, although not nearly as cool as he will be in later seasons, sets the standard for badass sex appeal. Thousand years old, cold and cynical, with the bearing of a king and the attitude of a drug lord, he commands total obedience and respect in the vampires under his control. He is also, occasionally, absolutely hilarious.

But in the end, it is the attitude that makes True Blood so appealing. It is sexy, trashy, doesn't take itself seriously and you could see how everyone involved with it just has too much fun. And in an age where vampires are all but completely domesticated, the violent and vicious approach of the show, combined with the nose-thumbing it gives the genre, is just too much to resist. Hard not to fall in love with it, and no reason you shouldn't give it a chance.



  1. Being campy and trashy is one thing. Being horrendously written is another. The former is not an excuse for the later.

    Anyway, enjoy the rest of that crap. :)

  2. True enough. I don't think it was horrendously written though. Plus, awesome cinematography, what little I know about that.

  3. The cinematography is adequate, but nothing special, the sets and the music are cool though.

    Can't wait to see your reaction on "amnesia" Eric. Beware the ceeewwwteness...