I had a strange run in with True Blood Season 1 recently and I thought it might be a good idea to share what I’d learned so that if any of you’ve thought about checking out the series, you’d be prepared.
Going into the series all I knew was that it was the new vampire show and that Anna Paquin was going to show her boobies. Good enough for me. I found season one for cheap and I got it.
First, I didn’t realize that this was an HBO show, although I should have given the nudity. This meant that the first season only had a total of twelve episodes. Each episode lasting a full fifty minutes. The second thing I noticed was what it wasn’t. I was expecting Buffy or Smallville but ended up with something much closer to a TV series based on Oliver Stone‘s UTurn or a much less compelling Twin Peaks set in Lousianna with vampires.
The series is a slow burner and doesn’t start with a great pilot. Instead, it unfolds it’s plot and lets it’s characters slowly develop, revealing this new world and these people to the audience. The pilot doesn’t have a grabber and most of the episodes in this first season don’t follow one main story with much abandon. So you’ll have to really like the characters to keep from asking yourself, “why am I watching this?”
Aside from having a name that sounds like something an Asian street hooker might suggest to you, Anna Paquin’s character Sookie is a sweet girl who just happens to also be a telepath. She waits on tables at the local bar and lives with her brother and her grandmother. She is an innocent and sweet girl who will show us her boobs by episode six. She and her friends all grow on you through out the show’s first season. Tara (played by Rutina Wesley) is a loud mouthed girl who can’t help but say whatever mean shit she’s thinking about. She grabs your attention right away because of her funny ass monologues but her shtick quickly becomes old news and you relish any and all of her scenes that give you more insight to her character (which you do get by the end of the season). Her cousin Lafayette, a gay, drug peddling, entrepreneur running porn sites from his apartment is one of the best characters in the show played by Nelsan Ellis. He’s as complex as a gay Yoda half way to the dark side. The biggest weakness of the cast is Bill, Paquin’s love interest who is neither likable, nor interesting. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a character becoming enamored with a creepy guy that no one likes and you can’t find a reason why she would like him either. Easily the best of all of the episodes features Ryan Kwanten who plays Sookie’s brother Jason. After taking too much “V” (vampire blood) for sexual stimulation, he end up at the hospital and has to have the blood removed from his cock with a giant hypodermic. I know how this sounds, but I swear it was the funniest thing!
So this isn’t Buffy. What does that mean? Well this isn’t a comic book movie like so many vampire movies are. It isn’t about fight scenes or transformations or slayings. Instead the vampiric element in the show is used like undead are used in the best zombie movies; a metaphor. In Dawn of the Dead, zombies come back to the mall they used to shop at as a comment on consumerism. While in Joe Dante’s Homecoming, the zombies are used to make a political statement on the current war. In True Blood the vampires are a newly recognized race of people with human rights issues. They’re used to parallel issues like racism, mixed marriage, sexual orientation and all other kinds of prejudice. Their blood is a metaphor for drugs and both are smartly explored thoroughly. So if a well told drama about a white girl falling in love with a black man in a small, unforgiving hick town interests you, or if you want to follow her brother as he gets into drugs, then you won’t mind this show. If you want hunting and action and stakes and vamp killing, you’re watching the wrong show (although there is a small amount of this as well).
True Blood is produced by many of the same crew that worked on Six Feet Under and the first season features commentaries on half of the episodes as well as some cool mockumentary styled promotional pieces on the vampire world.
So you’re now prepared to venture out and find episodes of True Blood, fully informed on the series and having your expectations managed. The series is worth while but is not a home run. Season two will be telling as to what kind of longevity the series has. Oh yeah, and Anna Paquin is fantastic naked!