Single Parenthood, recently posted about True Blood. I'd like to pretend that her excellent post is what prompted me to suggest it as a weekend charter theme, but truth is, Marianne and I have been obsessing about the show for some time, and as the date for the release of season 3 approaches (13 June, also happens to be my daughter's birthday!) it's getting a bit out of hand. So I was hoping that blogging about it would be cathartic, and that for a couple of weeks my mind would be free to focus on something else (my book for instance, or the article I thought I'd finish this month). Ok, it's really just another excuse to talk about my favourite show.
First things first, let's settle the whole Vampire Bill vs Eric Northman thing once and for all. This is an age old dispute. There's always two. There's always one that's dark and broody and wants to be good, and one that's blond and bad and fun. And for some unfathomable reason, some people prefer the dark broody one to the one that's fun, full of life (somebody else's) and surprises. What it says about you that you prefer the boring one, I don't know (just joking! (kind of)).
It started with Lestat, and the oh-so-uninspiring-in-that-film Brad Pitt. Then there was Angel vs Spike, and Bill and Eric, and (although, admittedly, both have dark hair) Stephan and Damon in the Vampire Diaries. Note, by the way, that at the end of season 1, Damon is beginning to become good and hence boring. Probably if they'd given him blond hair that wouldn't have happened. Spike also becomes boring when he gets a soul, and although his hair is still peroxide, he no longer uses gel and looks like a complete twat - more Art Garfunkel than Billy Idol. I think there's a theory in there somewhere, along the line of blond vampires have more fun. I'm not commenting on Twilight because, a) I haven't seen the films, and b) the book was too bad for me even to want to picture the characters' hair. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say: they're all mousy.
Now, I'm sure you know how some Christians reacted to Buffy. Same way they reacted to Harry Potter but worse (though not much). The show was supposed to be distasteful because of it's (lack of ?) treatment of religion, and it's many supernatural characters and dimensions. But, strangely, True Blood doesn't seem to have received the same reaction at all! And unlike Buffy, True Blood doesn't simply ignore religion. There's the whole Fellowship of the Sun church, with it's smiley, vampire hating, hypocritical leaders, there's the church Tara's mother goes to which encourages her to push her daughter away when she needs her the most. Sookie herself is a regular church goer, but hey, she's a bit supernatural (she's a telepath) so she hardly counts! So what's the deal? Why isn't True Blood receiving the same cold shoulder treatment as Buffy?
I don't think it's because it's a better show. I adore True Blood. I haven't throughout the first two seasons found anything that I would want to change. I think the opening credits in themselves are a small work of art. Also I think by now you all know how I feel about a certain blond vampire. But Buffy, I love with the kind of love that never dies. That is, I'm happy to watch any episode of any season over and over again. I laugh at the jokes every time, and I infallibly get caught up in the story so I have to watch the next episode, and the next, and then the next season. And before you know it, the day's over. Conversely I don't think that True Blood is better accepted because it's not as good as Buffy. Alan Ball definitely knows his stuff, and this show's top quality.
I think it may have to do with the general atmosphere of the show, rather than what it actually says about religion. Buffy was cultish. The theme music was heavy metal - already something that not many people will appreciate. All the main characters were misfits, and not, it has to be said, terribly American. Most of them don't even drive. They don't have any ambition. They don't have regular jobs. Some of them are gay, some of them are into S&M. None of them are married or likely ever to have children. In fact they are of so little use to society (well, apart from ridding it of vampires and demons, but nobody actually knows that's what they do) that if they were sucked into another dimension no one would miss them.
True Blood characters on the other hand are the kind of people any one can relate to. Sookie is a honest to god waitress, she has a home and family members she cares about and cooks for (Buffy brings home Kentucky Fried Chicken, orders pizza, and delegates bad vamp Spike to look after her little sister). Sookie wants to lead a normal life. She pays taxes. She's friendly and easy going. The shape-shifting bar manager is also a nice guy, the kind you'd be happy to introduce to your parents. You know he'd be sensible and well-behaved. He'd joke around with your little sister and compliment your mum on her cooking. Every one in the show minds their language, and, because it's the South, they're especially polite and well behaved. Despite all the sex scenes and the gore, that are sometimes much more explicit than Buffy ever was, it still feels like a 'nice' show. Sure, you woudn't want your children to see it, but you might actually feel they're missing out.
Alan Ball must be a bit of a genius to manage to create something that is subversive, and fun, and 'nice' at the same time. A good family sex and horror show you want to talk about on a night out. Makes very little sense, does it? I can't wait to see season 3.
Oh, one last thing. If you liked this post, would you mind terribly clicking on the RSS feed, here, or the Google connect buttons (top left)? And if you didn't like it, you might still want to look around. There's three of us, you know, so you're (almost) bound to find something you like. And then, if you've still got time, you could share this post or stumble it, or both and get in touch with your local tv station to sing our praises. We'll love you forever.