In an effort to make this review less explicit and more amusing, I’m replacing all sexual terms with innocuous stand-ins, such as “candy” and “painting her nails,” which will appear italics.
I grew up on a healthy diet of vampire films and shows. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Interview with a Vampire, My Best Friend’s a Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and more, all helped to expose me to a vampire mythos that was at once flexible and steadfast. Sometimes being a vampire wasn’t so great, sometimes it was fun, and sometimes you could still walk in the sun, but vampire media never forgot to add the very qualities that made it stand apart from other genres. At least, until True Blood.
In fairness to Charlaine Harris, the author of The Southern Vampire Mysteries from which True Blood was adapted, this is not a commentary on the books. Not only haven’t I read them, but Harris herself seems like a class-act – not always something you see with authors these days. No, this about True Blood the HBO series and why I, a vamp-camp lover, abandoned the series after three episodes.
Too Much Sex
When the first episode of a new series starts out with a handshake in a moving pick-up truck you know you’ve found something special – or that you accidentally landed on the Playboy Channel. With my mom engrossed with an article on the other side of the room I stuck through the scene only to be rewarded with more handshakes, a high-five scene, and a couple-watches-people-hugging scene. When that wasn’t happening, we were treated to the ability to listen to people while they thought about candy and secondary characters chatting about the stock market, all of which left the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, in varying degrees of shock. (Man, you’d think no one ever talked to her about stocks and bonds before.)
As if this weren’t enough, the third episode decides that virginal Sookie is too white-bread and has her nearly paint her nails on the front porch of her vampire crush’s home in the middle of the day. (Are you following this?) She also starts to paint her nails while in bed but wakes up to find the cat staring at her.
Vampires Not Being Sexy
Despite all the candy and nail painting, True Blood’s vampires are hardly sexy. With the exception of brooding Bill the Vampire, the vampires are more like pre-pubescent high schoolers trying to show off what they learned from watching American Pie and less like seducers of the night endowed with natural charisma and irresistible pheromones. This leads to awkward scenes in which vampires try to sniff at Sookie suggestively only to sound like they’re getting over a bad case of hayfever.
Too Many Humans
Bill the Vampire, the female vampire he slept with, the bald vampire who sleeps with everyone, the greasy vampire, the convenience store vampire, and the vampire spokeswoman — that’s the extent to which vampirekind was represented in the first three episodes. Meanwhile, the show introduced us to practically every member of Sookie’s family, her friends, her bar patrons, and their various histories. We also met the cops and some random woman who apparently really liked candy and may have choked while buying some at the store.
Look, I like candy stores as much as the next television viewer. But when a show gets a bad case of PWP? — or “Plot? What, plot?” — and focuses just candy when it promised me a filet mignon, you can bet I’ll lose interest. And I did. Sorry, True Blood, but you just gave me a cavity.