the rest is still unwritten

Monday, June 27, 2011

TV Show and Tell : True Blood

In the age of Twilight wherein flat, angst-ridden characters make their way through predictable, two-dimensional plotlines, it becomes quite difficult to find a vampire series that is intelligent, complex, exciting and truly engaging. I've heard tell of this new vampire series, but never really got the chance to get into ituntil last year that is. As I began the first season, I knew I was going to get hooked. Finally! Here was a severely raw and gritty and gripping series, replete with engaging human and supernatural charactersall beautifully broken; a thrilling plotline filled with action, suspense, drama, comedy and romance. I hungrily devoured the next two seasons, and am quivering with anticipation as the first episode of the fourth season is set to debut TODAY. I am, of course, talking about none other than the HBO series:


SOOO juicy!

As I have mentioned in my earlier review of the Vampire Diaries I am a sucker for anything to do with the occult and supernatural phenomena. Whether it's witches, vampires, succubi, ghosts and other otherworldly apparitions, you best believe I'd stay tuned (until I lose interest that is). With a show like True Blood, I am most definitely tuning in.

The 411:
The series is based on author Charlaine Harris' series of novels The Southern Vampire Mysteries. I have yet to read this series, and so this post will be based solely on the TV show.
Tru dat!
After a Japanese Company released Tru Blood, a synthetic blood substitute, the Vampire community "came out of the coffin"often referred to as 'the Great Revelation'. With the release of this product, vampires across the globe have sought acceptance as they try to 'mainstream' into society claiming that with Tru Blood they are no longer a threat to humans.

Now zoom in on the fictional sleepy blue-collar, back-swamp town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Zoom in further and you will find Merlotte's Bar and Grill, workplace of our charming young heroineSookie Stackhouse (Played by Academy Award winner Anna Paquin). Despite her famous line, "I'm just a waitress," we will soon discover that she is more powerful (and at the same time vulnerable) than she thinks.

Eric, Sookie and Bill.
She soon falls in love with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a mainstreaming vampire who is over a century old. But what's a series without a love triangle? Enter Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård), stone-cold vampire sheriff of Area 9. Saying that the dynamic between the three is a grave understatement. Oh, by the way, in season three, werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) also throws his hat into the love mix. Adding to this hot mess are the series' cast of supporting, yet equally addictive characters.

Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) - Sookie's well-meaning but albeit simple-minded older brother, also filed under town man-whore, clearly we can see why.
Sam Merlotte (Sam Tremmell) - owner of Merlotte's and Sookie's boss. Actually, he does his fair share of man-whoring, too, but he keeps it on the DL. BTdubs, this one has a super secret, too.
Tara Mae Thornton (Rutina Wesley) - Sookie's tells-it-like-it-is-disaster-magnet best friend. She eventually gets hired as bartender at Merlotte's.
Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) - Tara's flamboyant cousin. He's just as tells-it-like-it-is as Tara with a more colorful vocabulary, and he's equally magnetic to disaster. Short order cook at Merlotte's and on-the-side drug dealer. Ka-Ching!
Pamela Swynford De Beaufort (Kristin Bauer) - Eric Northman's right-hand woman and progeny (Eric made her a vamp over a hundred years ago). Pam is a constant source of witty one-liners. She is at the same time warm and inviting, and cold and ruthless. Loves her!
Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll) - An absolute absolute fave, 17-year-old Jessica is Bill's newly 'made' baby vampire. I love her storyline!
Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) - Sookie's season three knight in werewolf fur-mour. Yep, the True Blood gang are as ready to bear skin as they are fangs.

Now, I realize that if I posted a picture of every True Blood character, this post would take forever to read, and even longer to write. So, seriously, just watch the show. Between seasons 1-3 there are dozens of unique and interesting characters. You have the friends, the love interests, co-workers, and villains both in human and supernatural forms. I'll probably end up doing People Watch features on some of the characters in the future.

There really is so much going on on the show. It is aptly named True Blood, because bloodhuman, vampiric, fae or maenadis such an important theme. The show gives due respect to the power and attraction to bloodwhat it can do, the powers and the ecstasy it can provide. On the show, vampire blood (street name V) is so potent that it has narcotic qualities when taken recreationally by humans. The provision (by vampires) and selling (both by humans and vampires, as we'll later discover) of V is deemed illegal in both human and vampire courts of law.

By chronicling the lives of the humans and supernaturals in the series, we are given a glimpse (albeit fictional) of what it means to exist in the society of the True Blood universe. I mean, the trials and tribulations of working class life in the South are enough for a human to handle, but then add a bunch of wildcard supernaturals (vampires, witches, werewolves, shifters, and fairies, oh my!)all with their own sets of issues and laws and demandsinto the mix. Now that's GOOD TV! From Wiccan waitresses and werepanther packs to vampire kings and queens, True Blood provides a fully conceptualized and complex network of romantic, social, societal and political power structures between humans and vampires, vampires and vampires, vampires and other supers, humans and other supers, and other supers and other supers, and in a way, humans and humans. I love the historical dynamic between vamps and weres in the series (season three)!

I think one of the show's strongest suits is that despite the fact that the series is based on absolute fiction, you still almost feel like wait, this could be happening. I mean, the portrayal and the performances in the series are so sincere and so committed (plus the show is really well-written and well-conceived), that for at least an hour you believe that there really are waitresses falling in love with vampires in Mississippi. It's kind of hard to explain, you just have to watch it.

The show has only been running for three seasons, but already so much has happened! Season one investigates the mysterious murders of female Bon Temps fangbangers (derogatory term used to describe humans who willingly seek out the company of vampires). Season Two's main plotlines revolve around the sudden disappearance of a Vampire Sheriff, and the appearance of the mysterious and captivating Maryann Forrester (played by Michelle Forbes). Season three starts with the disappearance of Bill, well more like season two ends with it and is picked up right at the start of season three. I really don't want to give anything away, because one of the shows greatest strengths is the unpredictable plot. True Blood is filled with some serious plot twists and turns and unique characters. True Blood has a high O. M. G. factor. Season four is rumored to bring witches and even more shapeshifters into the mix!

It must also be noted that a parallel between the American Vampire League's (AVL) fight for vampiric rights and human civil rightsgay rights in particularhave been drawn. As the vampires have "come out of the coffin [closet]" they are met with hostilityparticularly by a religious fundamentalist group (sounds familiar?): The Fellowship of the Sun. They denounce the vampiric "lifestyle" with a powerful and all-too familiar slogan: "God Hates Fangs [I think you know what words goes here, starts with F and rhymes with hAG]". That's pretty much where the parallel ends. Because unlike the vampires, the LGBTQ community does not have a 3,000 year old deranged and power-hungry member who rips out newscasters' spinal columns on national TV. Not that I know of at least. Anyway, this theme of social acceptance is another reason that makes the series even more attractive to me (much like Marvel's X-Men comics, but now I digress).

So, if you are a fan of the occult like I am; or if you're tired of the celebreality shows, and are looking for a well-written complex series full of multidimensional characters; and you're not averse to blood, boobies, butts and bumping uglies (because this show will bombard you with all that), then True Blood is for you. Seriously, give it watch. You will find yourself as super hungry for each episode of True Blood as the rest of us.

Season four will begin shortly. Catch up. And by that I mean drink up.

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