I'm six episodes into the first season of True Blood, and if there's one word to describe how I feel about this series, it's disturbed.
While the plot is compelling and the characters are richly drawn, there are certain things I can't reconcile in my mind.
For starters, I just don't get this whole vampire thing.
Because it's definitely not the hotness of the guys that's a problem. (Even though I really don't see the hotness of pasty emo Vampire Bill.) But let's get serious. I spend about six hours a day talking about this guy:
And I will never be a Buffy fan.
Since Twilight hit the scene, this country has been obsessed with vampire stories. And it's all pretty much the same--vampire and virginal (but ass-kicking) girl. Forbidden love, sense of danger, blahdy blahdy blahdy blah.
True Blood is the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic young woman who lives in modern day Bon Temps, Louisiana. But in this universe, the recent invention of synthetic blood has allowed vampires to "come out of the coffin" and live amongst humans. At least at night. And just because vampires don't have to feed on humans anymore doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to; it also doesn't mean that humans are 100% okay with having vampires in their midst. Sookie is an exception, an open-minded individual who thrives on the adventure of learning about and experiencing life with a vampire.
I just don't get it.
Maybe it's my inherent practicality, but it just doesn't make sense to me that any human woman in her right mind would want to be in a relationship with a vampire. Like, I get that whole danger thing, but I can't imagine wanting it to go beyond a one-time thing. You know what it's like? To me, being in love with a vampire is like being in love with Sawyer from Lost. Yeah, you might have a really hot makeout session while he's tied to a tree, but when the shit comes down, Sawyer's gonna expose your fugitive status to the whole group. Sawyer would've let Kate carry the dynamite through the jungle, unlike that other guy, who snuck it into his own pack. (Oh, snap, "Exodus." Guess we know what I'm doing when I'm done with this post.) A sensible woman would be trying to make it work with Sam, the bar owner who (I think?) is the True Blood version of an Animagus. He's loyal and trustworthy and honorable, and when Sookie's grandmother was viciously murdered, he just sat with her. He's protective of her without having to pull out his fangs every time someone acts suspiciously. But that's obviously going nowhere, so whatever.
So, yeah, I think these girls are dumb.
Beyond the massively effed-up ship, I have a couple other problems with True Blood.
Let's spend a moment talking about pay-cable. I did a blog last summer about the injustice of including premium cable series in Emmy competition, and I still maintain that argument. As I said then, these shows have shorter seasons, bigger budgets, and freedom from the FCC. Comparing, say, Sex and the City to Friends is just asking for an apples and oranges problem.
But what I find so reprehensible about premium cable is that they almost seem to flaunt their freedoms. Almost all of the series I've ever seen on pay cable are just absolutely rife with cursing, violence, and graphic, gratuitous sex. You know how I know it's gratuitous? Because it's never the main characters. Those guys get no-nudity clauses written into their contracts. It's always the secondary characters, the ones who aren't famous enough to be choosy. I think Jason Stackhouse has had sex in every single episode so far, and the only love scene they've shown so far between Sookie and Bill was, comparatively, pretty tame. (Oh, except for the part where he bit her. Yuck. More on that later.) Anyway, come on. This show isn't made any better by the fact that I've seen this many naked people.
Okay, so once we get those two (pretty big) problems out of the way, let's talk about what's good. Because despite these factors, I do really like the story.
First of all, it's a really interesting take on this vampire crap. The way the show depicts the in-fighting of the vampire community and the tension between vampires and humans is fascinating, and obviously a pretty thinly veiled analogy to the non-supernatural tensions that continue to exist in America today.
It's also very suspensful, and I like that. I want to watch the back six, because I'm intrigued to see how the story continues. (Especially this business about Sam's shape-shifting abilities. That's gonna come out soon, I'm sure, and is probably gonna cause some problems.)
Sookie Stackhouse is a really great character, despite her bad taste (hahahahaha get it?) in men. The telepathy thing is something I was unaware of going in, and it definitely gives her an edge that her predecessors don't have--it gives her a one-up on the vampires that the others don't have. I loved that she saved Bill's "life" before he got the ever chance to be sexy vampire rescuer. I just want her to start using her ability to start solving these crimes. I watched the episode where Sookie and Bill go to Fangtasia, and I really liked watching her try to get some answers. Obviously, she's been a little distracted in these last couple episodes, what with the deaths of her colleague and then her grandmother, but come on, Sookie, get to work!
I also do enjoy the logistics of vampire lore. Most notably, how come all of these women (including, now, Sookie) get bitten by vampires and don't become vampires themselves? I thought that was the whole point?
And I really, really love Sam Merlotte. What a charming little canine bastard. Favorite scene so far: