TV Series Review: TRUE BLOOD – Season 1 (2008)
Gone were the days of the vicious, fear inducing vampire. It had become the era of the teenage vampires who have as much unnecessary emotions as they do hair product. That is, it would be, if it had not been for the saving grace of a true to myth TV series aptly known as TRUE BLOOD.
On top of being a show that has kept the true fictional nature of Vampires alive—amidst a frenzy of teenage heart throbs that act as annoying cougar bait—TRUE BLOOD is able to showcase an innovative story with themes that imitate great storytelling classics involving civil war issues, discrimination, drug abuse, star crossed lovers… not to mention of course the coolest ‘horror’ genre of blood sucking vampires.
TRUE BLOOD shows us a world where Vampires have revealed themselves as beyond myth to the world, with the invention of synthetic blood that satisfies their nutritional needs. This synthetic blood allows them to no longer be seen as a threat to the rest of the world, since they no longer have to kill humans to survive… ideally. Of course, as with any influx of a minority in the world, certain obstacles and challenges always present themselves. Creator Alan Ball gives us a unique world where Vampires are trying to fight for acceptance among a human majority population. The parallels drawn between vampires and other minorities through out America’s history is, in this writer’s opinion, the greatest attribute of TRUE BLOOD.
Besides the gore and graphic content that only HBO can provide to televisions screens every week, TRUE BLOOD deals with the discrimination faced by Vampires in society once they’ve outed themselves. The story starts when a Vampire moves into a small Southern town and sets into motion a chain of events in the lives of the towns folk that changes them forever. The most significant of these events is meeting and falling in love with our lead character, Sookie Stackhouse… very well portrayed by the talented Anna Paquin. I’ll be honest, prior to this show, Paquin has always been for me the poor man’s Natalie Portman. However, post-TRUE BLOOD, I am wow’ed constantly by this girl’s ability to portray an outspoken independent Southern girl who suffers tragedy after tragedy, yet still keeps on swinging.
Throughout this 1st season, the story is developed and spread out in a very adequate pace that reveals the universe to us in a manner that keeps us hooked. Almost every episode of the first season ends in a cliffhanger, as is the usual practice for a new show such as this. The 1st season of TRUE BLOOD revolves around the death of women in this small town who have been known to associate with vampires. Since the murders coincide with Vampire Bill’s move to the town, tensions rise as Sookie is constantly reprimanded by friends and family for wanting to befriend the vampire, who is openly held accountable for the deaths despite his good nature.
Despite the show being of such asupernatural genre, there are subplots that borderline as humdrum, but they break up the pacing of the narrative quite well. The character of Sookie’s best friend Tara who has grown up with an alcoholic and abusive mother is probably the best of the supporting characters this season. Tara’s ‘fuck all’ attitude and emotional detachment make it difficult for her to keep friends, a job or even have a meaningful relationship; all of which is made even harder when confronted with the fact that her characters flaws are all attributed to a ‘demon’. We can then come full circle to Sookie’s brother Jason; an open womanizer who winds up as the prime suspect of a murder investigation when the women he sleeps with all end up dying, who then starts doing V (Vampire blood is harvested and sold illegally as a drug by humans) as a means to cope, but it complicates matters. We’ve also got the timid and nice guy boss to Sookie, who carries a flame for her, but is constantly barking up the wrong tree, in more ways than one. Not to mention the guy who started it all, Vampire Bill, who lived his human life in this small town, and now has returned home 100+ years later to try to live a normal life since Vampires are now tryng to co-exist with humans.
The Bill character is reminiscent of the reluctant vampire with a consience archetype such as Brad Pitt’s Louis de Pointe du Lac or David Boreanaz’s Angel. Essentially one of the good guys, Bill is persecuated for the crimes of his kind, even more so once he shows interest in Sookie.
TRUE BLOOD is at first an all out Vampire show that reminds us of the good ol’ days when vampires were feared, and the lights were turned down during a vampire movie. However what will keep this show around for a while is the themes and tones with which TRUE BLOOD is presented that go beyond the typical genre show, but reflect more universal topics such as racism, discrimination, civil rights and essentially the history of humanity.