Since True Blood Season 6 is partway underway, I thought I’d take this blog to discuss the show, the Southern Mysteries (also called the “Sookie Stackhouse novels” and what I like about the phenomenon in general.
I first learned about True Blood when I worked at Blockbuster Video. HBO did something really cool prior to the launch of the show; they pre-released the first episode as a FREE rental exclusive 3 weeks before the series premiere aired. So, people got a chance to watch the show before they watched the show; genius move. It allowed people who did not even have HBO to be exposed to their new product. Sadly, I did not rent it during that time, my boss wouldn’t let the employees take the credit for a free film. But, a month later, when I came home from work one night, my husband had show queued up on our internet browser. He’d heard of the show, and wanted to watch it with me.
We’ve watched the show together ever since.
Now, Season One and two were amazing. If you look at the story of the “Vampire Rights” movement, it very closely mirrors the Gay Rights movement. Vampires throughout True Blood (even heterosexual vampires) are used as a symbol of homosexuality. The right for vampires to marry, for instance, bears a heavy similarity to the Gay marriage discussion. Much of the anti-vampire rhetoric mimics anti-gay rhetoric, and sometimes, in the early seasons of the show, they are used in the same breath.
One Senator in the show, who uses the openly fabulous Lafayette as both a “V-blood hook up” and as a “hook-up” goes on the air, during the show, condemning gays, vampires, and “V-addicts” in one breath. In a scene that has proven to be the only time Lafayette *ever* dresses in a suit and tie, Lafayette gracefully calls the Senator on it, showing up at a rally, and gets photographed with the Senator. A gay, African-American prostitute/drug-dealer shaking hands with the Southern, White, Conservative Senator.
“I am so happy and proud to shake the hand of someone with your values. Too often we’re governed by criminals and hypocrites. Don’t you agree? But I can tell you’re a man of virtues and I applaud the effort you’re making against the poor and disenfranchised. Especially the vampires and the gays. So many things can happen to bring down a person such as yourself. You might wanna be careful.“
The first two seasons are very close in nature to the first two novels, Dead until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas. The third and fourth bear some similarities with Club Dead and Dead to the World. Season Five has only two similarities with Dead as a Doornail: The challenge for Packmaster of Shreveport and a story line where someone is shooting shifters. Thus far, season 6 seems much more like later books in the series. I’m not going to nit-pick the differences in the show and the books; many others have written about it. The books provided a good framework, a good start for the show. But, as the books are primarily told from Sookie’s point-of-view, we don’t really see what everyone else is doing while she’s off ‘dealing’ with supernatural problems.
I did not start reading the books until after I watched Season One; this probably contributes to why I like both novel and show with equal fervor. Had I “read the books first” I would probably hate the show for the differences, though, I might love it. I can’t really say. I’m not usually one to argue about “book vs movie.” Usually, I see the experience as enhancing to find a book and movie that are the same tale.
What do I love about the Sookie Stackhouse world?
A. Eric Northman: Book, show, whatever, he is insanely sexy.
In all seriousness, Eric Northman is that wild, sexy vampire, with the body of a god, the experience of a thousand years, and still retains a child-like nature. He still enjoys existing, and still is able to hold onto his childlike nature. (I cite the short story Dracula Night and a scene at the beginning of Season Four where he goes skinny dipping in the sun). Plus, he is perfectly cast with Alexander Skarsgård.
B. TV Tara Thornton. She is probably one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen on TV in a while. Book Tara is okay, but TV Tara? She’s gone through some hard stuff (alcoholic, abusive mother, a vampire who was obsessed with her, a boyfriend who was murdered, being shot in the head) and is still standing strong and proud.
I can (and will) talk more about Tara at a later date. For now, just trust me. TV Tara is amazing.
C. Terry Bellefleur. I like the inclusion of a post-traumatic war vet, and his story doesn’t get as much flesh in the books as it does in the show. I’ve talked about PTSD elsewhere, but I like the way his particular PTSD is handled. TV Terry (literally) fought his demon. Book Terry never does, but proves time and again to be a valuable friend to everyone he meets. TV Terry He helps his cousin, the Sheriff Andy Bellefleur overcome V-addiction, raises his stepchildren as if they are his own, and helps Sam Merlotte’s at the bar when he needs help.
D. I like the first person point-of-view in the novels. It’s like Sookie is sitting down, late in her life, telling the story. She goes through hellfire, but you know she has to survive because she’s telling the story. Charlaine Harris did a good job in that decision. She only deviated in the last novel in order to wrap the series up.
E. The producers of the Show aren’t afraid to deviate. It is frustrating when a show is nearly identical to the book, there is no mystery. My biggest complaint with “Game of Thrones” is that it is almost too similar, and the show is spoiled because I keep waiting for “IT” to happen (and the first “IT” happened season 3.) Because I have read the books.
I read the books after Season One ended. Had I read the books first, the big secrets: Sam is a shifter (who prefers dog form) the identity of the murderer (Rene) would have been ruined. The rest of the series has been just different enough that I’m not constantly waiting for “IT” to happen. Either IT does or IT doesn’t.
I have some thoughts on the direction of the show, but I’m going to keep it quiet. For now, I’m just gonna sit back and watch.