Friday, July 31, 2009

Can we talk about True Blood for a moment?

Look, I like the show. I just really don't know what it's about. I must enjoy it to a certain extent because when it's on the DVR I think "Yay! True Blood! it's entertaining! Let's watch True Blood!" Yet every time I have the same basic questions I had from the beginning:

"Why does Sookie love Bill and vice versa?"

"Why are there vampires? Are they hell spawn?"

"Do they have a conscience, guilt and/or a care of consequences?"

These are the things that should've been covered in the first episode. I'm still wondering why I'm rooting for these damn vampires at all. They are straight up killers. Bill is a killer. Why has the world embraced them instead of banding together to rid the world of them? No explanation. We just get the constant parody of Jesus freaks, hicks and political bullshit. Sure, it's cute, it's funny, but it's getting a little empty. Maybe the accusations are true. That I'm tainting by the goodness of Whedon's vamp stories and can't see past them. Excuse me if I like substance.

Bottom line is this. These vamps are flippin' evil. In Buffy's world she'd have little choice but to band together with Pastor Steve and Sarah Newlin of the Friendship of the Sun church and combine her slayer army with the little vamp-killing army they're building. Sometimes I even find myself slightly rooting for them! Now that can't be right. Wonder if the Buffster would like FOS's wooden bullets, thoguh? Seems more like Faith's type of thing. zing!

Bitsy's take:
True Blood and Buffy Season 8 are very similar in that, in both cases, vampires have recently "outed" themselves. The difference, of course, lies in the perspective from which we see the story unfold. In the case of Buffy, it's primarily from the Slayers' perspective while in True Blood it's from the vampires'. What's so confusing is that yes, even though we are meant to see the True Blood vampires as being good guys, they never quite seem so innocent. In fact, it remains completely in their nature to use humans for their own amusement at best and as dinner at worst. Even Bill Compton who is meant to be reformed (Tara's note - for some unknown reason) has a tendency towards some rather violent and murderous behavior.

What's meant to be painted as a cultural difference still seems an awful lot like watching hunters and prey do their wild, one eats the other, sort of dance to me. Obviously the mythos of Buffy extends much further given far less wiggle room on the nature of vampires. They're evil and soulless monsters (except those two hot guys). I wonder what the Buffy story would look like if they spent an arc doing all the telling from the perspective of the vampires. I bet it'd look an awful lot like True Blood. That's my two cents on it anyway.


1989 said...

'True Blood' is totally entertaining, but anytime I compare it to Buffy I realize how ridiculous it is. I hate the Sookie/Bill relationship - he's emotionally abusive and controlling and the sexual violence is one-sided. Sure, Buffy and Spike got rough, but she gave as good as she got (if not better). Sookie is the only one being hurt, and even if she's into it, it's not exactly sending a positive message about girl power.

I get that the vampire's struggle for equality is supposed to be a metaphor for gay rights, and at first I really liked that, but are the writers saying that gay people are like vampires and that they both would deserve equal rights? Because the vampires in 'True Blood' are evil, amoral, and perverted, and I don't like that their struggle is being compared to the struggle for gay rights. Gay people and 'True Blood' vampires are nothing alike.

Okay - I just had to get that off my chest.

Kaaren said...

I agree aboutt he vamps. Why should we care?

What's not shown in the tv shows is mostly talked about in the books. Vampires "came out" when the synthetic blood came out. Why? Not sure. They wanted rights? Acknowledgement?

The PC version they fed to humans is that they are "people" with a disease they contracted that makes them "alleric" to sunlight and garlic. Really. Only a few countries are tolerant of vamps in the books since they came out. Most countries kill them on site. The US does not.

The books are better than the show, imho, but I'm on book 6 and I have to wonder if there are ANY women in the state of Louisiana. There are six, count em, six Supes wanting in her pants in book 5. *sigh*

Back to the show: Dislike Bill in both the books and the show. Glad Eric got a hair cut. Don't really enjoy watching Anna on screen much (like I read elsewhere: Joker-mouth/Spongebob teeth.)

Captain Elias said...

I'm very glad to see you write about this, and I completely agree. You hit the issue of lack of vampire sympathy (though for some reason expected, despite them always having blood pouring from their mouth, and sexual perversions) dead on, as well as the obviously nasty, and completely superficial portrayal, of the bible thumpin' freaks as more godless than the murdering creatures of the night.
In addition to all this, or maybe in complete relation, the writing is getting worse and worse by the week. In Buffy every episode, however unimportant in the grand scheme of plots and Big Bads, every so called 'filler' episode, could stand on its own, had its own arc, its own metaphors and conflicts and resolutions. This show just drags on for 8episodes at a time, with some weak red herrings and no closure.
If you'd like to read me savage them some more, check out my website But I warn you, I also savage Dollhouse (it's been a rough week.)
Keep up the good work Lords of Buffyfest! And may you always see clearly when it comes to the increasingly popular subject matter of vampires.

Tara said...

Yep! Agree with everyone here. Lack of girl power, bad metaphor for gay rights, Bill Compton is unsavory, writing going even more downhill...all of it. Wonder how this new found annoyance will affect me while watching this week's ep. We'll see.

Thanks for the backstory too, Kaaren. @blindwithrain on Twitter recommended this to me for more revelations, Check it out:

Alison said...

I'm a huge fan of both Buffy and True Blood, and of all the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I see your point. On the show, they are sort of vicious without any cause and yet we're supposed to be sympathetic. The only thing I can say is that with the changes they've made book to show, we've lost some of the humor, personality and (believe it or not) good deeds that the vampires have done. Eric is the prime example of this. We've only just started to scratch the surface of that guy, when in book 2 we've already seen his appeal. And it's not limited to just his hotness. Anyway, the other thing is, just as I don't think you can compare Twilight and Buffy or Twilight and True Blood, just because they're about vampires, I'd say the same thing about Buffy-True Blood comparisons. I love Joss Whedon and his writing and characters. On True Blood, for me it's mostly residual feelings from reading the books, and is less about the writing. In fact, I'd wager to say most of the things you like about the show are from the books and the less-than-stellar thing are probably a product of the changes. That's why I liked Eric so much from the beginning while everyone's still panting over Bill. It's all about perspective, I guess. One thing's for sure, I've had enough of Maryann. Someone needs to slay her.

Sir Dalton the Underling said...

I like True Blood. I really wish there was more wholesale vamp slaughter of Louisianians. I lived in Louisiana for 4 years. I wouldn't mind if the vamps took a huge chunk out of that sorry excuse of a state. Hey, sometimes focused misanthropy is a good thing.
I like Alan Ball, but his never ending liberal elitist lock/step conformist know-it-all undertone approach throughout the show really does get on my nerves. He did the same thing in Six Feet Under (one of my favorites). It's subtle, but still very irritating. Political hackery garbed in the form of entertainment is so tedious. We're all adults, and that sort of juvenility just detracts from the more important themes of a show. In this instance, vamps killing humans/humans killing vamps, vamps/humans having sex, etc.
One thing (among many) that I so loved about Buffy was that it was both a fun, yet philosophically dense show. It made me laugh, but also made me think without degenerating into political concepts and thus appealing to my more base and divisive political instincts. That's why, in my opinion, it's so difficult to label Buff, the Scoobs, and everyone else (excluding Anya) politically. There's a real beauty and unity in that approach, and it's definitely lacking in Ball's work, unfortunately....

elainecleo said...

I watch it because it is about vampires and I keep hoping it will get better(does not look like that is going to happen any time soon). But the vampires are not good looking and are not something I would want to cuddle with, I mean compare to Spike or Angel and even better Angelus, now those are HOT, sexy vampires. Even Twilight killed off the only good looking vamp, James.
We really do need Whedon vampires, I am wearing out my Buffy and Angel DVDs, at least the story line was good in those series.

buffygroupie said...

I tried to watch True Blood. Really I did. But after a while, I just gave up. There didn't seem to be any point to the show at all. I mostly felt like I was watching violent porn. And strangely enough, it turns out I don't care for that at all. I guess I'm just more about teen angst. ;)

Honestly, I just like my vampire stories to have some substance and not just be about death and sex.

Maybe I'll try the books and see if I like them better than the show.

I Punched A Werewolf in the Face said...

I love True Blood (show & books).
Why/How vampires became what they are is never explained in the books (it might be later in the show)..this is b/c (I think) they do not know themselves. There doesn't appear to be any written history and no one knew of any Vampire older than Godric. Also, none of the books take place outside of the southern U.S.

While Bill attempts to control Sookie she stands up for herself and doesn't allow it.

Now the reason why the show is so sympathetic to the vampires is NOT b/c the vampires are an allusion to the struggle for gay rights (somethings are metaphors to it, but they are VERY SHALLOW metaphors imo--and the real metaphor is about the persecution from the FotS). It is b/c the books are told from Sookie's P.O.V and SHE is sympathetic. Also, there are the points that Kaaren stated.

The Fellowship of the Sun (in the books & the show) ARE a metaphor for the KKK and extreme, dangerous homophobes who blame it on Jesus.

@Sir Dalton The political tones that you think you're getting from Alan Ball (not that he isn't supportive of them or not) are actually straight from the books.

Sookie loves that she can't hear Bill's thoughts. That he doesn't see her as crazy or disabled (this is better covered in books). She loves that he has manners. He listens to her life story w/o thinking she's insane. She feels accepted & adored. This is also the first time she's been able to feel this way. There are more developments to come..

Bill..well. I don't want to spoiler, so I can't really tell you every motivation that Bill has. Bill was totally gobsmacked when Sookie saved him from the drainers & then did not take the blood to sell for herself. He likes her bravery, her outspokenness,& her demand for respect (even though he does try to control her out of what he thinks is being "protective").

One thing the show has NOT done that the books do elaborate on is more of how the world outside Bon Temps is reacting to the coming out.

Other things that are not in the show that are in the books (there are 7 now, so I think show will catch up as soon as it can) are the Vamps who are not evil murders. There are vamps who are doctors & police officers. Many of the vamps are much more human are devoted to living as such-"mainstreaming" as much as they possibly can. Their thirsts are not only for blood & most of them realize this.

In the books, not much is said about Bill's afterlife before Sookie (unless I am forgetting something & I might be). These flashbacks with Lorena do not exist. In the show & the books it's proven that he can feed w/o killing.

In the show Bill is genuinely searching for some sort of redemption

Jen Lipari said...

So now that we have seen what happened with 2,000 year old Godric (a Christ-like figure trying to unite vampires and humans), Tara's point #3 is moot. I am sorry, but this show is amazing!

Plus, Eric is so HOT.

guest.register said...

I agree, this show is amazing. You can't really compare it that much to buffy.

I loved Buffy, and I loved Angel, but Eric has taken over my #1 Vampire spot - sorry Angel, I feel dirty!

Sorry if this was said earlier, but its my understanding that they have explained the vampires story a bit (why the public don't just kill them - except FoTS and the like). They say being a vampire is a sickness, and now that they have a remedy (TruBlood) they no longer have to kill. Thats why they "came out".

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