In September 2008, HBO changed the TV-watching experience when it debuted its newest horror-fantasy drama, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. It was dark, sexy, filled with tons NSFW moments that had us fanning ourselves and — most importantly — gave us the Norse hunk that is Alexander Skarsgard.
Just look at him...
What a yummy bit of man.
Anyway, With live-action adaptations of teeny-bopper vamper books like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries making younger girls across the globe go into fits of fangirling, it was great to see adults getting their fair share of a little blood-sucking fun adapted from the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series. It was part camp, part murder mystery, wrapped in a fun, leathery, spankable bow.
Aside from all the sex, the show actually had a solid plotline upon its induction even when you added the mind-reading waitress Sookie Stackhouse, her vampire boyfriend, Bill Compton, and her shape-shifting boss, Sam Merlotte. The intense acting only made the show all the more fun to watch as you were either left fanning yourself from all the sexual tension or covering your eyes from the copious amounts of blood.
Being a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I was immediately attracted to the show and thus became a self-professed die-hard fan during Season 1. In fact, I got so into the show, that I began reading its source material, Dead Until Dark, midway into the season. It was a bit of a racing game for me, as each episode more or less corresponded with a chapter in the mystery novel. However, curiosity got the better of me and I would finish the book before the season finale.
Upon learning of the show’s renewal (and finding myself entirely entertained by the book), I continued reading the series and was able to finish several of the books in the franchise before the Season 2 premiere. And to say that I was pumped for the show’s return was a major understatement. At this point, I had made trips to the HBO store in New York City, tasted my first TruBlood, the official drink of the vampires (which is really just blood orange soda to us human folk), and even procured an “I “Heart” Bill Compton” T-shirt. I was converting friends and family members and making sure they tuned in, proposing to host my own True Blood parties. Yup. Yours truly was a devoted True Blood fang banger.
When Season 2 premiered, I was ready to see all I had read in Living Dead in Dallas (the second book of the series) brought to the screen — albeit, with its few creative changes. For the most part, I was pleased with how the show stayed relatively close to the book, and when the show was renewed for Season 3, I was still a devotee hoping for more of the same. However, when Season 3 premiered, I was none too happy with a lot of the changes.
Various characters from the book franchise were introduced in Season 3, I suppose to add more drama to the already drama-laced show. While I understood the show had to give multiple vantage points, I still found the plentiful storylines a little much to endure, especially from characters who didn’t need an introduction so early into the show… like the freaking faeries. Did we really need the faeries?
But, there was hope. The show was renewed for a Season 4 and Dead to the World (the fourth book in series) was one of my favorites. I thought there was no way they would screw it up. The basis for the fourth book was Sookie's struggles as she took care of — and became attached to — an amnesiac Eric Northman (an elder vampire eager to taste her and proprietor of Fangtasia nightclub), who was bewitched by witchy werewolves. It was primed for being an emotional turning point in the way viewers looked at Eric, and it would full of steamy love scenes.
Then it premiered… and all of my fangirling began to wane. While staying somewhat to the core of the Sookie-Eric relationship, the show took things to another level by introducing necromancing witches controlling vampires, had Sookie gone for a year and presumed dead, Sam's shape-shifting brother was sleeping with girlfriend Luna, and Bill become the King of Louisiana. Um, how now brown cow?
I will not tell lies, the changes were a little too much for me. Furthermore the show, which prided itself on not being overly campy, started to lose some of its edge. Storylines were all over the place, and by Season 5, everyone had some outlandish drama to deal with that was just too much to cope with like Tara becoming a vampire, mild-mannered Terry dealing with the ghost of a dead middle eastern woman, Lafayette the seer/medium, and worse of all, Billith. Seriously, everyone had a problem, and soon fans would too.
Showrunner Alan Ball decided to hightail it out of there at the end of Season 5 after tossing good source material and characters on their heads, and we all kind of knew the end was near. There were few to no Golden Globe nominations after a while and viewership declined a lot. Still, it would take two more seasons for the show to meets its true death and in the most anti-climatic way ever. And it’s because of this, I mourn the terrible way this show ended.
When we first got our taste of True Blood, there was a bit of spark in this undead fairy tale. It was simple but still very complicated in the minutiae of its construct. A glance between Bill and Sookie, Sookie and Eric,or Eric and damn near anyone could send an erotic shiver down viewers’ spines. The murder mysteries and abductions kept us on our toes as we tuned in to learn the hows and whys behind all the happenings on the show.
Adding to the show's fantastical climate was its ability to create parallels with current societal issues like discrimination against marginalized groups (ie. LGBT). We saw the backlash between religious organizations for and/or against the lifestyle of the resurrected "fangers" as well as the fight to grant them rights as (undead) human beings. And of course, there was also the radicalized hate groups and the day-to-day obstacles of living in a town where there were people OK with vampers and those who feared them. But at some point, the show lost its grit.
Instead of giving us a compelling drama that just happened to be about the supernatural citizens of backwater Bon Temps, it became a campy vampire show that dared to ask “what else can we stuff into this to make it even crazier?” without considering how it would damage its initial lure, and this part upsets me the most.
This show had all the makings of remaining a huge hit even after it departed in the way Buffy remains a cult classic for 90s kids. Instead, True Blood will probably become that show you remember for it's once great potential that greatly lost its way.