I loved True Blood
before it was even a television show. That
is to say that I loved the books that the series was based on, so I was
determined to love the series, too.
It’s always an iffy proposition when a beloved book series
is turned into entertainment for the masses. Thankfully, for fans of Charlaine
Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries, HBO was the network that became home to
Sookie Stackhouse and her merry band of cohorts.
Since the show was on HBO, that meant that there was rampant
swearing, nudity and violence – all things I’m totally fine with. It’s not for
everyone, but it upped the entertainment value for me.
When the show debuted, it was a cultural phenomenon out of
the gate. The first season was well done, well
acted, well cast, and well
paced. There really was very little to complain about.
Unfortunately, that can only be said about the first season.
Starting with season two, a disturbing trend started to
surface: Hit-or-miss writing.
I think, when the writers focused on the big three – Sookie,
Bill and Eric – the writing was usually solid. There were gaps in their
stories, too – don’t get me wrong – but it was still fairly even.
It was the secondary characters that saw the brunt of the
bad writing – especially Sam, Alcide and Lafayette.
Because True Blood
drifted so far from the literary source
material – the writers could essentially do what they wanted to do. That was
both a good and a bad thing.
Take Game of Thrones
, for example. I love the show, but it
sticks to the books a lot more than True Blood
does. Therefore, every big death
that has happened, has come straight from the books – so it’s not that
, on the other hand, broke from its literary
Lafayette, for example, should have been dead after the
first season. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that practically every storyline
he’s had since that first season has been a righteous dud.
Then there’s Alcide, who – other than his introduction story
– has been mired in pack politics that don’t
match the book and often find the
character backsliding on a regular basis.
Sam has wandered from story to story – never quite fitting
in – and suddenly professed his love to a young woman he’d known all of two
weeks (right on the tail of Luna dying) and his characters seems to be lost at
On the flip side, Jason Stackhouse continues to delight. I
hate the character of Jason in the books and yet I can’t get enough of him in
the series. Every dumb thing he does makes me laugh. Every heroic thing he does
makes me laugh. Quite frankly, practically everything he does makes me laugh.
Unfortunately for Jason, his new vampire story seems to be a
real dud. I have a feeling he’ll end up with Jessica when it’s all said and
done – although I still hope she’ll end up with Hoyt.
Speaking of Jessica, she’s a character that doesn’t exist in
the books and who – for the most part – has been an absolute diamond in the rough. I fell
in love with Jessica when Hoyt did – and I still feel a little sad about their
breakup. Still, she had a better story in season six than just about anyone
I think True Blood’s greatest mistake was delving into fairy
stuff too often. Although, to be fair, I thought that was the books’ biggest
And, when it comes down to it, I don’t know any book fans
that truly ended up happy when Harris ended the series last year. I’m kind of
curious what will happen when the television series ends this year?
Eric fans (both book and television) have made no bones
about what they want. I think they’re going to be
disappointed, though. Eric’s
storyline has deviated and, while he and Sookie occasionally cross paths, I don’t
think they’ve built up any great love story between the two of them on screen.
Eric fans are vocal and often whiny (yeah, I said it), and
they stomp their feet and throw a tantrum to get what they want – but I don’t
see it happening here, just like it didn't happen in the books.
In the real world, I think Sookie and Alcide would make the
most sense. She’s not immortal (neither is he) and that whole age thing would
be a pesky barrier. She doesn’t want to be turned into a vampire, so what are
her options if she’s with a vampire?
This isn’t the real world, though, and I honestly believe
that Bill and Sookie are end game.
They’ve gotten the bulk of the romantic story. The first
three seasons were completely about their relationship. And, after that, their
relationship was still the underlying story.
Think about it, when Sookie and Eric got together – it was
put in terms of how it affected Bill and Sookie.
When Bill became Billith, it was about how he was scaring
everyone – and especially Sookie.
When it came time to take out Warlow, despite everything he
said, it was Bill that was willing to die to save Sookie.
And, when you compound that with the fact that their
portrayers ,Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin, are
married in real life? I just think
the writers are going to make them end game. I don’t see another end there.
Now, we know this final season is about the vampires gearing
up for slaughter since the True Blood
supply has been tainted. The last scene
of the sixth season was a group of them getting ready to descend on Bon Temps
and an outdoor barbecue.
The show runners have said that the season opens up with a
bloodbath – and some longtime characters may die in that opening scene. In
fact, one of the deaths is being called “shocking.”
My guess is that Arlene, Terry, Lafayette or Tara’s mom will
be the shocking death. I’m sure some other people will die throughout the
season (Pam better survive and inherit the Earth), but I can’t see them taking
out a big dog too early.
In the end, I think True Blood
was a beacon of entertainment
hope in a usually stiff summer season. In recent years, some of the summer
programming is actually better than fall and spring programming – and I think
deserves some of the accolades for that.
Absolutely not. True Blood
idled at ridiculous and peaked at
stupid on occasion. The writing was also all over the place – with stories
being dropped out of the blue (Jason being a werepanther, Lafayette selling drugs,
Tara being attracted to men, etc.) and some supernatural themes being shoved
down our throat.
That being said, True Blood
had moments of brilliance. And
here are my top five:
5. Lafayette delivers an “AIDS” burger: True Blood
shied away from difficult topics. Lafayette
being a gay man of color (who also
sold drugs) could have made him a stereotype. Instead, Lafayette managed to
steal the show on many occasions – including the season one episode where a
couple of red necks send Lafayette’s burger back because they don’t want to get
AIDS. Lafayette’s response – licking the bun, especially – was spot on. Not only
did he beat up all three of the “manly men” taunting him, but he also
admonished them to tip their waitress before leaving. That scene is only one of
a hundred that showcase why the first season was so great.
4. Terry’s Funeral:
Season six was, without a doubt, True
Blood’s weakest. Still, there were a few moments that tore at the viewer’s
heart – none so much as Terry’s funeral, though. Poor Terry, he never got to
truly be happy. He thought Arlene was pregnant with his child, but it turned
out to be Rene’s. He sacrificed his military buddy to save Arlene but then
couldn’t live with the guilt. Then, when he couldn’t take it anymore, he
arranged his own death after setting Arlene up financially. The most crushing
part of Terry’s death was that, right before the hit, Arlene arranged for him
to be glamored to forget his guilt. Sadly, it was too late for Terry, though.
The best moment of the funeral came when Sookie outed herself as a telepath (even
though most of the town already knew) and told Arlene that she was reading
Terry’s mind the first time he saw her and knew what he thought, and that he loved
her from the first moment he saw her.
3. Jessica meets the sun (not quite):
The witch storyline
was one of my favorites in the books, but it kind
of fell flat on the small
screen. While most of the witch storyline felt forced and contrived, Marnie/Antonia
trying to force all the vampires to day walk was chilling. With Bill anchored
down by silver next to her, Jessica managed to cast off her chains, trick her
jailer, and make her way upstairs and was ready to fry. She didn’t know what was waiting for her on
the other side of the double doors -- other than sunlight that would surely
kill her. So, with Bill screaming in the basement and Jason fighting the
security guards on the lawn, Jessica opened the doors and … yeah, Jason saved
her. It was still a great moment.
2. Godric meets the sun:
The Fellowship of the Sun was a lot
scarier in the books than it ultimately ended up being on the small screen.
And, while the overall story had highs (Jason’s takedown of Steve Newlin and
rescue of Sookie) and lows (the scattered Texas vampires, the fumbled Barry
subplot) the emotional heft of season two was reached in Dallas – not in Bon
Temps. Between Eric’s breakdown at losing his maker (Alexander Skarsgaard’s
finest work) to Sookie meeting the sun with them, Godric’s death proved that
immortality isn’t everything.
1. Russell Edgington delivers the news: Denis O’Hare’s
delightfully obnoxious portrayal of Russell Edginton is really one of True
Blood’s greatest achievements. Between Russell carrying around the urn of goo that
used to be Talbot to Edgington’s sad little façade with the street hustler, O’Hare
managed to make Russell riveting. When Russell took it upon himself to start
slaughtering people on live television, though, it was both horrific and
hilarious. Russell was one of the greatest book deviations on the show – and he
helped make the middle run of True Blood highly entertaining.
The final season of True Blood
debuts on Sunday.
What do you think? What will you miss most about True Blood?