I’ve been at the helm of the Twitter account (@MythicScribes) every Sunday to live tweet about True Blood (using the hash tag #TrueBlood, along with the show-specific hash tag if HBO specifies one). Generally speaking, I haven’t been very interested in erotic fantasy writing, movies or television. When my wife tuned to HBO for the premiere episode of True Blood, the unique opening sequence hooked me immediately. Alan Ball, series creator, opens the show every week with a snippet of the show’s bottom line: a very modern spin on the classic vamp themes of sex, religion and death. There is something very raw and symbolic about the music and images used, and it served its purpose (which can be viewed here). I had to watch.
Before giving you my impressions, I should disclose that I’ve never read any of Charlaine Harris’s books, so I can make no comparison. I would, however, like to hear yours. I’ve even started a True Blood discussion thread in the discussion boards for that. Feel free to go there or post your comments below.
True Blood mostly takes place in Bon Temps, Louisiana (a small fictitious town) in a reality where human blood is now synthetically created as a soft drink called True Blood (TB) (preferably heated to 98.6 degrees). Thanks to TB, Vampires no longer need to feed off of humans and have “come out of the coffin,” to live among human kind. The most conservative elder vampires reject TB and exist similarly to the traditional vamps we’re accustomed to. The vein that feeds the show lies where vampire and human lives intersect. Story lines also mix in a few other supernatural creatures like werewolves, shape-shifters, witches, fairies, and even were-panthers (which I’ve never personally heard of). As of the beginning of season 4, the TV series has kept most of the supernatural creatures a secret from humankind. Oddly enough, the only creatures to “come out” to humans are those who historically see humans as their main source of food.
True Blood is more than sex scenes mixed with bloody special effects. The series has a lot of depth, political intrigue and a strong background mythology that’s explored creatively while storylines play out. It asks questions such as, “How would humans get along with vampires if they knowingly lived with them everyday?” As well as, “What if a small town folk in the Deep South learned that virtually every mythical creature ever hypothesized not only existed, but lived among them?”
This thought experiment is handled in an interestingly raw, human and realistic way. Show producers and writers do an excellent job of creating this fictitious world, and it feels exactly how things would play out in present day Louisiana under such circumstances. Also, just like Game of Thrones (previously live tweeted by us), viewers find it easy to care about the characters and identify with them.
With all of that cool stuff aside, there’s a huge aspect of the series that I’m not comfortable with. The political commentary falls short of reasonable. The series tries to draw a parallel between the LGBT community and vampires. Vampires struggle to be socially accepted, are often treated like outcasts, and even lack equal rights. For instance, humans have been seen protesting, chanting and holding signs that say, “God Hates Fangs!” Take out the ‘N’, and you have a real life sign often hauled around by intolerant circles. Human/vampire marriage being legal in just a few states is another attempt to show this parallel.
The Vamp/ LGBT analogy falls flat to me, and I don’t see many substantive parallels. Vampire’s feed off of their significant others during intercourse and claim “ownership” of them. Vamps are constantly fighting the urge to suck “their” humans dry despite having ample True Blood. Also, vampires are dead…that’s necrophilia. The anti-vampire movement is depicted as an intolerant group of crazy right-wing bible thumpers. Season 2 even went as far as to introduce a cult like church that set out to protect humanity from vampires.
So that’s my take. I would like to hear yours, whether you agree or disagree.