Whilst killing time at my amigo’s flat, the hour inevitably came when the bars were closed and we had played all the Smash Brawl we could reasonably stand. Calling my attention to a small, white box with mildly erotic cover art, he suggested we watch an episode from the first season of “True Blood,” his latest vampire-infused TV fetish.
I immediately recoiled, as if repelled by garlic or by sunlight. I’m really not much of a television enthusiast, truth be told, and rumors of Twilight’s blatant donk-canery had soured my taste for any attempts at mainstreaming the vampire genre. (Sparkling vampires? Stake through the heart. Or maybe a kukri knife, a la the original Stokerian epic.)
Due to boredom, masochism, or the perseverance of hope, I decided to give it a shot. After five or six hours of viewing time over two subsequent evenings, I am happy to say that my doubt has been laid to rest – the program is well-written, engaging, and most importantly, does not reduce the vampire to a glittering, Hot Topic-esque pissant conceived to arouse fifteen year-old emo chicks.
This does not imply that the show does not have its sensual moments. The vampire has long been a symbol of sexuality and deviance, and I cringed at first for fear of half-assed soft-core or soap-inspired shamefulness. Never you fear, gentle reader – True Blood rides the line between Steeleian cliché and pleasant sexuality like a drugged up fang-banger straddling their first vampire lay (puts “v-card” in a whole new light, doesn’t it?)
Outside the bedroom, the show continues not to disappoint. A host of believable if routinely traumatized characters (it is, after all, a drama) bring the town of Bon Temps to life, infusing the program with a down-homey, colloquial flare. While the dialogue’s backwoods simplicity was alienating at first, repeated exposure charms the viewer like a southern belle; drawing the audience into the more human aspects of a fantastic world. This is a strong claim coming from me, as a lifetime of exposure to Bush-era redneckery has embittered me toward anything that drives a pick-up and listens to Toby Keith; but it is true – seeing relatable characters in such familiar surroundings actually did much to assuage the shame brought on by my humble Midwestern origins.
And speaking of politicizing, I should applaud the satirical elements of True Blood. The message is subtle yet undeniable, as background programs host chattering about vampire-rights legislators and the struggle to legalize vampire marriage. Pricelessly, a Fellowship of the Sun cathedral even sports a bright yellow poster reading “God Hates Fangs.” If that doesn’t get you off, well, then I simply have no comment.
While the action scenes are not uber-abundant, they certainly occur often enough to maintain interest. The violence is intensely fast-paced and often over quickly, which upon consideration is better than the drawn-out, cheese-ridden excuses for melees that so permeated the genre’s prior failures. Also, as the name implies, the program is suitably ensanguined in other aspects, from vampire intercourse to the snorting of vamp blood to induce psychedelic journeys.
All in all, this is the program that got it right. While it is not my favorite drama of all time (bring back The Riches!), it is a masterful forward leap for the vampire traditions, honoring the genre’s hallmarks without trespassing into the cliché. The show maintains an aestheic homage to metal and gothic aesthetics at points (such as at the vamp-bar “Fangtasia”) while keeping Bon Temps and its residents believably normal – the only inconsistency is that landscapers and wait-staff walk around in high-end, sponsor-evident fashions. Also, I am proud to announce that HBO’s vampires balk at running water, recoil from sunlight and silver, and are precluded from entering private dwellings uninvited. And, once again, they don’t fucking glitter!!!
Red Pill Neo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think. He apologizes for the late post, citing an impending move back west brought upon by perpetual nomad-ism. Follow Neo and his PGT pals on Twitter – once again, we’re PGTblog!!!