True Blood Review - Supernatural Soap Opera

This is one of the most addictive shows ever. This is very silly, even down to it’s premise: Blood has been successfully synthesised for vampires to live on, so they’ve mainstreamed making their existence known to humanity and fighting for equal rights. But what makes it work is that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s very self aware, satirical and smart.

The show centers around the residents of Bon Temps, a small town in Louisiana and their encounters with the supernatural, not just vampires. Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar, has been living with the gift of telepathy her whole life, giving her social anxiety due uncontrollably hearing people’s thoughts.

Two years after the mainstream, a vampire named Bill Compton arrives at the bar and takes an instant shine to Sookie. Sookie realises she can’t read vampire thoughts, which makes her new friendship with Bill more tempting despite the rest of the town not being fond of vampires arriving in town.

Over the course of the show, we discover there are several other supernaturals that exist: Shape shifters, Werewolves, Witches etc. Like with a lot of supernatural shows, it uses the supernatural as allegories for what we have to deal with in our daily lives. What makes it unique compared to other supernatural shows is the environment it creates, set in Louisiana it has a trashy community feel to it, where prejudices of most kinds are most common.

Anna Paquin stars as Sookie who’s fantastic as she can be very loveable, sympathetic and hilarious. But she also has no patience, doesn’t let people tell her what to do, and at times makes dumb decisions. Even when she becomes captured you never get the feeling she’s going to give up.

Her supernatural ability makes her feel like an outcast and has her questioning her humanity and looking for the good in others, which makes her interesting and relatable.

Bill Compton who is a gentlemanly yet darkly mysterious vampire, who was turned in the 1800’s just serving as a soldier in the Civil War. He may appear gentlemanly but he has a lot of skeletons in his closet and as a vampire he’s not above killing and shedding if he deems it necessary.

Like Sookie, he despises what he is and is looking for purpose in his life, which makes Sookie relate to him. Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill, and Anna Paquin did in fact get together and got married over the course of making the show – their real life chemistry really does show on screen.

Other characters include: Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) who is a bad-boy vampire yet hiding a soft spot; Sam (Sam Trammell) the owner of Merlotte’s Bar; Tara (Rutina Wesley) Sookie’s feisty best friend; Jason (Ryan Kwanten) Sookie’s horn dog brother; Alcide (Joe Manganiello) a werewolf; Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) a teenager and newly-turned vampire; Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) a sarcastic vampire who’s Eric progeny and Lafayette (Nelson Ellis) Tara’s cousin who’s a drag queen, a chef and a drug dealer. All of these characters are iconic and I only describe just a handful, there are several side characters who are amazing – Arlene, Terry, Andy, Ginger, Holly etc. The performances all around are fantastic, I can’t fault anyone in the cast, they all give 100% to bring these characters to life and give them such colourful personalities.

The main theme of the show is Acceptance. Vampires want to be accepted in human society and Sookie has to accept what she is. There are single characters and groups, all with various views and actions ‘For’ or ‘Against’ people who are different and characters either proud or ashamed of what they are (whether they’re vampires, gay, different race, supernatural etc.).

All different types of prejudices are explored and all the different measures haters go to. But it’s also about accepting yourself, whatever you are shouldn’t matter to anyone else, it’s about being what you are and what that means to you.

This is a soap opera style show with multiple plots that intertwine in a serialised format, that flow from episode to episode. As a result there is a bit of a compressed timeline, maybe a day per episode average, but that can be a bit of a stretch to believe as so much happens in such little time, but the show makes time jumps when necessary.

This is certainly not a show for a younger audience, this is without a doubt for adults (ones with strong stomachs). With the word Blood in the title, the show lives up to it with scenes of gore and violence and they don’t hold back at all.

This show also has a lot of nudity, containing some of the most unique and bizarre sex scenes you will ever see. There’s also heavy depiction of drug-use, especially as drinking vampire blood in this show is like major ecstasy for a human and there are scenes of characters tripping.

Season 1

A serial killer is on the loose, killing women who associate themselves with vampires. Sookie is in danger of being the next victim as she falls for vampire Bill.

The season does a very good job at introducing the audience to this universe and characters, bringing the audience into this alternate reality. The tone of this show is set perfectly and the characters get you hooked from the get go, one of the best first seasons of any show.

Season 2

Sookie and Bill head to Dallas searching for a missing vampire, which leads them to an anti-vampire church, The Fellowship of the Sun, run by Steve and Sarah Newlin (Michael McMillian and Anna Camp). Meanwhile, a mysterious woman called Maryann (Michelle Forbes) creates havoc in Bon Temps.

This season ups the ante, the Maryann story is very interesting but does drag in the middle and gets confusing, however it does get explained and the conclusion is very satisfying. The Dallas plot was way more interesting which builds to an explosive climax and an emotional aftermath.

Season 3

The Vampire King of Mississippi and his pack of werewolves have kidnapped Bill, while Sookie, accompanied by Alcide, searches for him.

This is one of the darker seasons, full of revelations and uncovering betrayals, most of the characters this season actually go on a dark path. Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) is by far the best antagonist of the series, he is fun to watch as he's a vampire who doesn’t like mainstreaming and definitely doesn’t see humans as equal to vampires.

Season 4

After Russell’s actions, the vampires are recovering their image in the press to continue mainstreaming, however a coven of witches is set to bring the vampires down!

This is my personal favourite of the seasons. The leader of the witches is Marnie played by a perfectly cast Fiona Shaw, and they cast some pretty creative spells on the vampires. One of them involves a memory spell on Eric, which makes Sookie see him in a completely different light after despising him for so long. The finale is fun and it’s set on Halloween and it takes creative advantage of that.

Season 5

Bill and Eric have been taken to the Vampire Authority and they discover there are members who are against mainstreaming and want vampires to surpass humanity. Meanwhile Sookie and Jason discover a conspiracy behind their parent’s death when they were children.

This season has multiple villains, but none you can call the main antagonist, in a way, authority itself and the misuse of power can be seen as the main villain. This season also goes into vampire mythology and even into the vampires' own form of religion. Not the best season but the finale is a jaw-dropping bloody mess that ends on its biggest and most shocking cliffhanger.

Season 6

After the events of last season, Louisiana’s Governor has taken control with new weapons and vows to take down the vampires once and for all. Meanwhile Sookie is preparing to take down a mysterious powerful vampire from her past.

The humans vs. vampires story is great, it feels more like the social commentary is heading to its big showdown as we get the return of a major character from Dallas in Season 2. This season ups the ante as everyone is in danger, especially the vampires and there are deaths that have actual consequences. There’s also a surprising amount of payoff to a lot of plot threads setup over previous seasons.

Season 7

A virus known as Hep-V is affecting vampires worldwide, the residents of Bon Temps are now in danger as a group of sick vampires are infecting the town and Sookie and her friends must find a way to defend themselves.

This may be the weakest season, but I was happy overall with the way they wrapped up the show. The plots involving the Hep-V virus, the political and social commentary has become surprisingly more interesting watching it now during the Covid-19 pandemic. Give it another watch you’d be pleasantly surprised.

The first half was an absolute bloodbath and no character was safe at all, while the second half was about giving all the characters an ending to their arcs as well as putting a stamp on it’s social commentary.

Overall this an awesome vampire series, along with the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Being Human, with its own unique take on the genre. The show is certainly not perfect, it has flaws, storylines don’t go in directions you think they should, the character’s act out of line a lot - but this is why I love this show.

It relates to real-life, no one is perfect, everyone makes bad decisions and nobody knows where they’ll end up in any situation or in life. This show succeeds in presenting issues we have to deal with in our lives in a very over-the-top entertaining fashion.

So watch True Blood, it’s fun, equitable, smart, satirical and sexy.

Written by Jack Parish

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