TV Review: True Blood

A disclaimer up front: I'm pretty sure that, as a straight male, I'm not the target demographic for True Blood. As far as I can tell, the show is positioned for female viewers who like their vampires grittier than the ones in Twilight's sparklefest romance and gay viewers who identify with creator Alan Ball's analogy of Vampire as Marginalized Minority Figure.

("Too bad for you," my wife says. "I'm Queen of the Remote on Sunday nights. Now be quiet and watch the naked vampires have sex.")

I like True Blood's overall premise, which has held together well since the series began in 2008. In the fully-realized world of the show, everyone in the country knows about the existence of vampires, and as a result, there's a lot of sly commentary about Undead civil rights. The show is winking at us as it draws a parallel to current struggles in the gay community, and it's cleverly done. (A church sign in the opening credits shows the message "God Hates Fangs.") While the actual characters are running around doing their thing, there's a lot of fun happening on TV sets in the background, as vampire lobbyists spar with conservative talk show pundits.

But now that we're more than halfway through the third season, it's what's happening with the centerpiece couple in the foreground that's starting to feel tiresome: we've got Sookie Stackhouse, a human (Anna Paquin) and Bill Compton, a vampire (Stephen Moyer). Over the past three seasons, their relationship has basically involved a lot of a) running around in the swamp looking for each other and b) forlorn gazing. Plus a lot of sex. That's pretty much it. And that's why the episodes tend to blend together for me.

It's all very Buffy/Angel, plot-wise. Hot blond girl with psychic powers pines for brooding, do-gooder vampire. Except for the sex part. Because there's a lot. Plus violence. (Which is why we all pay for HBO in the first place, right?) The violence is sublimely visceral. In Buffy's world, vampires exploded into powder when staked or beheaded. Here, they dissolve into truly fantastic, stringy gore. It may just be old shredded cheesecloth dipped in strawberry jam, but it looks awesomely grotesque. And the aforementioned sex is plentiful. Various characters within the ensemble are always bumping into each other and saying, "Hey! Have we had sex yet? No? Well then let's get a move on!" Watch the last ten minutes of the most recent episode (Aug. 8th), and you'll see some particularly impressive all-nude grindage.

There are other plots in play -- Season One's mystery serial killer, Season Two's orgy-loving evil Maenad, and the current season's Vampire/Werewolf political power struggle -- but it's all just meant to frame the Sookie/Bill romance. Which is wearing thin. I'm tired of hearing Paquin squeal "Bill!" and Moyer growl, "Sookeh..." (or, when the fangs are in, "Sssshhhoookeh..."). After two and a half seasons, True Blood's writers owe us more.

("Whatever," my wife says. "This show has more male bare asses per minute than anything else on TV. Now hush.")

P.S. One thing this show has going for it: best opening credits ever. Great song by the lurky-voiced Jace Everett, and images of the Gothic South that creep me out way more than anything that’s actually happened on the show itself.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...