HBO True Blood has the same theme as the very popular current movie Twilight – beautiful, good human girl falls in love with eerie, gorgeous vampire guy. So vampires are trés chic for the umpteenth time from Bela Lugosi to Buffy. Tasty entertainment.
But this time, HBO has found a new twist. Vampires supposedly "came out of the closet" two years ago, and they’ve been facing discrimination and intolerance ever since.
Based on the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, the HBO True Blood TV series is set in the hot and steamy rural southern town of Bon Temps, Louisiana (“bon temps” being French for “good times”). Its vampire hero, Bill Compton, was a Civil War soldier when he sought shelter in a pioneer woman’s house. But she turned out to be a vampire who fed on him. He died, becoming a vampire himself. He could never go home to his family, and was doomed to live immortally. Being a vampire wasn’t his choice.
Bill’s done what the vampires call “mainstreaming” – trying to fit in with society. Although he can still only come out at night, he dresses like human men, falls in love with a mortal girl, and instead of going to vampire hangouts he ventures into the local human hotspot. And he doesn’t like to feed on people for real blood...he opts for the synthetically produced new Japanese product “True Blood” for nourishment whenever it’s available – hence the series title.
At the human hangout, there’s some intolerant talk toward the vampires, since some of them do still feed on humans. Bill’s mortal girlfriend, Sookie, has the ability to hear other peoples’ thoughts. So she hears many mean remarks made toward vampires and the humans who are willing to associate with them. When first meeting Bill, she is immediately entranced and excited at the prospect of being deflowered at the hands of a vampire.
It turns out real vampire blood (“V”) is a hot commodity, and people are becoming addicted to it for the ethereal high it creates. Some vampires sell their blood for money – others are trapped and exploited by humans for it.
True Blood has the usual politically correct double standard – those who are against vampires are the religious bad guys. In Season One, a law-abiding churchgoer turned out to be a vicious serial killer of “fangbangers” (women who sleep with vampires), a Christian TV preacher spit hatred at vampires from his bully pulpit, and a senator - Republican no doubt - bad-mouthed vampires while hypocritically sleeping with a gay vampire blood dealer.
True Blood has a strange, hypnotic way of drawing you in to see what happens next. You start identifying and sympathizing with Bill and Sookie’s situation. This would still be good ol' fashioned entertainment, except that there are actually groups of people today who are dressing like their idea of vampires and even trying to live like them, down to what they claim to be biting and drinking. But let’s be tolerant.
I give this series 2 thumbs up for creativity, but 3 thumbs down for violence, sexual content and religious discrimination against those of biblical faith.
© 2009, Sheryl Young