THE BOOK FAN: True Blood, what have you done?
My name is Gen Xavier and I have every book Charlaine Harris has ever written.
There. I said it.
I wanted to leave no doubt as to my starting point in this fiasco: I’m a book fan. I even like the way Harris wrapped it all up with the After Dead follow-up installment but that’s not my focus today.
What is, you ask? The show sucks. I could probably stop typing right there. Maybe some of you wish I would. But I got a pocketful of pissed off and you’re just plain out of luck.
Ironically enough, I didn’t always hate the show.
In its first season I was completely smitten – lock, stock and fang – and watching the amazing world Harris created come to life in front of my eyes held me captive. Here was the sleepy little town I’d read so much about and there she was – Sookie Stackhouse, our quirky little heroine. It was slow and languid in pace, unfolding like an effective seduction; the kind that made everything feel possible, wrapped in the sticky heat of a Louisiana night. It was perfect and I was happy but everything changes and therein lies the rub: how could the first season be so good but the rest of it a slow descent into trashed-out bullshittery?
It burns. With each progressively stupid season, it only burns all the more but, before anyone goes off like an ill-timed firecracker, I realize television is its own medium. I know that adaptations are not always faithful and some of them may even be an improvement. I was actually pleased at the declaration that the series would be different than the books; it meant that perhaps, as a reader, it wouldn’t be predictable for me.
I tried to hang in there. It’s just not possible. Since season two’s debut, I have yet to stop bitching about how horrible a turn this show has taken, and it’s only gotten worse. The list of reasons exponentially multiplies: what could have been a great show, even in its departure from the books, is now riddled with gratuitous sex, wasted plot lines and padded with Millennial fluffery.
The show itself has become an entity run by twenty-teens and their expectations, and the changes made to keep them happy veered the show into mind-numbing territory. Characters became unrecognizable with their Stepford makeovers and personality transplants. Plots were often more like stairs that led nowhere. Analogies that could have been brilliant instead settled for media-approved mediocrity.
We were promised substance and got flash because HBO pandered to Gen-Y-Do-You-Keep-Messing-Up My-Favourite-Television-Shows? and there’s nothing the rest of us watching this twelve car pileup could do about it. I stopped watching and I wasn’t alone.
Here we are, perched on season seven (gratefully, its last) and I am wondering what on earth anyone could possibly do to save this show, even if only for posterity. I doubt LaFayette, the only character worth liking, could pull a saviour act out of his head gear effective enough to bring it back from the brink.
After all, Sookie’s not only a slag but she’s a slag that makes zero sense. Oh, not in the books but that’s not good enough for the sensationalist television show True Blood‘s become. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about great sex. But this isn’t it, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Sookie prancing about in various stages of undress for no good reason, often behaving like a ridiculous music video, while enjoying instant ‘relationships’ is not entertaining. Often accompanied by a host of under-dressed-for-no-good-reason-and-behaving-stupidly others, the show makes about as much sense as watching soft core porn for the story lines (and if that’s what you like, Skinemax does it better) and don’t get me started on the dialogue. It’s been watered down with dumb so much that the only after-taste left is the silly and predictable.
It’s as if you and your parents – Generation Me otherwise known as the Boomers who sold out to fully engage the corporate culture of greed – are out to ruin the world and now between you, you’re half the demographic. I have to wonder if anything my generation would ever create or embrace could withstand the massive amounts of shallow you lot seem to bring with you to automatically kill it.
From the moment your greedy little clutches dug into this show it was doomed. HBO pandered to you in every possible way to keep you happy and, perhaps justly and not so ironically, nailed its own coffin shut.
Me? I’m Gen X. Literally.
Things like sex, religion and violence aren’t hotbeds of giggles for me to tee-hee about with my friends at the water cooler. That’s probably because I’m over twenty and have no problems behaving like an adult. But not only do I not appreciate what the show’s become, I’m wondering what kind of message it sends to its audience, then and now. Because there is a marked difference in the audience it had versus the audience it has now.
The message I got was that HBO will do anything for money, even if it means ruining a perfectly good show to pander to overgrown children, and I shouldn’t bother investing myself in its programming. Which, quite frankly, makes me very nervous as they’re currently in bed with one of my favourite authors, George R. R. Martin. I think all the intelligent viewers – you know, viewers who like things like characters, plots and dialogue – just gave up on True Blood and hopped over to Game of Thrones as soon as it aired… but that’s another post entirely. HBO broke trust and faith (not the first time) but told its new viewing audience that catering to its appetite for fluff was more important than presenting quality television.
You sold out on so many levels that I don’t have body parts to count them on; then Alan Ball bailed when he knew there was no more social agenda left to preach without impeachment or repetition, and not a drop of revenue left to be sucked from the monstrosity he created.
True Blood could have been a show that entertained, seduced and transfixed. It could have been great television that made us question society and its role on more than a mere surface value. But sex sells, and tits and ass mean ratings. If seeing someone naked on television is a racy thrill for you, it makes me wonder if you bathe with a swimsuit on. Violence sells. The more blood and flying bits the better. Trendy sound bites replace actual dialogue and rhetoric becomes a substitute for development. Bullshit sells and it sells big.
Until it doesn’t.
If you’ve only seen the first season, do yourself a favour, stop there and read the books instead. The flavour of Southern small town life is there. The characters are well-fleshed, charmed and charming. The plot lines actually make sense. What will happen in your head will far surpass any sensationalized soap opera trickery HBO could ever spin. It’s called quality and, if you ask me, it’s worth choosing every time.
THE SHOW FAN: To Sookie or not to Sookie?
Let’s not kid ourselves here even if the main character is walking round in butter-wouldn’t-melt virginesque dresses, she still manages to take those innocent robes off every time a man winks her way.
Sookie sex sells like Twinkies going out of business.
Yes it does target the tween and young adult market but let us not forget the hidden market of watchers of the older persuasion who just love to feast their eyes on the den of inequity called the world of the supernatural.
Commercialism 101? Sure as shit Sherlock.
I actually prefer the TV adaptation. The screenwriters have managed to take Charlaine Harris’ bland old fuddy duddy Sookie and turn her into seductive Sookie (imagine Bill saying her name in that sexy southern way ‘Suukkie’).
Instead of insipid sobby sparkly vampires we get the rip out your throat and fuck you till you come type. The type of character that appeals to the base human caveman instinct we all tend to ignore and have taught ourselves to control. Let’s not forget the hunky furry wolfman, who might have been able to teach the viewers something about pack life or animal instinct vs human but all everyone sees is….
People watch these shows for entertainment and the occasional surge of nefarious excitement.
Admittedly the bizarre “Lillith is the God of all Gods vs. humans” plot is superbly bonkers, however I would have thought it might appeal to the atheists or annoy the believers.
The one thing I do agree on is that Alan Ball has literally dropped the True Blood ball and his balls for that matter…what a cop out letting this great show just wither into TV obscurity.
It might seem as if it is hitting all the sensationalist and shock buttons one can possibly imagine but I would for one moment ask that you take a step back and peer a little closer at some of the themes or story lines the producers/scriptwriters seem to have just thrown in there at random.
Is it random? Or are they actually making their own little waves in the huge ocean of TV drama?
I like the fact that they are presenting LGBT (whatever the fucking acronym is) on the same level and giving it the same air time as hetero relationships. Good for them because some of these television shows are still too afraid to rock the boat lest they upset some bible thumping bigot or an Earl Gray twirling hardcore tea party member spouting the evils of same sex relationships.
True Blood doesn’t do token gays. They just do.
|You’re looking at her boobs
right now aren’t ya?
Then there is the God Lilith. The God of all vampires and superior to the human race. The vampires even have their own bible for a thumpin’ purposes, which they tend to quote from quite a lot when trying to convince others of their omnipotent power and their one and only true belief system. Now where have I heard that before?
Come on you have to admit it is a pretty ballsy slap you up the face with a wet kipper to all those that profess to doing the work of the righteous because they believe in the one true faith (whichever one that they adhere to) and do so because their book of spells…sorry book of the Lord tells them to. Can you feel the wet kipper yet?
Such a shockingly brusque plot and yet at the same time superbly sublime. Viewers are so entranced by the naked bloodied chick that they pay no attention to the intent.
So much for fluffy sensationalism. Looks more like a show that is extremely loud and bodacious, whilst slipping in the important issues on the sly when everyone is looking at all the tits, crown jewels and arses. So in this case I am going to argue against the apathy of The Millenials.
Although the majority of shows are mind-numbingly empty of content I do believe that there are TV shows that serve their purpose when it comes to chipping away at the ignorance and uneducated views many people have. Teaching tolerance via outrageous plots and stories. Making parallels between society’s cultural deficits and mythological beings or just acknowledging the fact that it is okay when a man plays tongue hockey with another man on screen.
Why not use semi naked werewolves or sex starved vampires as a platform to enlighten? Sometimes you have to look a little deeper than just the surface. There are always exceptions to the rule even in the land of TV La La.
So let’s turn this around and go back to the beginning shall we? The Sookie books by Charlaine Harris. To me the books and the TV scripts are two different entities. Granted there would be no scripts without the basic plot, characters and ideas, but the scriptwriters and producers have taken the concept and created something completely different. There is no comparison.
The Eric in the books is not the Eric on screen. The Sookie in the books is nothing like the multi-faceted gal on screen, who is up for a fumble, suck and a grab with anyone who happens to catch her eye. (I meant suck blood by the way……tut tut).
Alan Ball might have decided to cut his losses and bail to make sure some of the integrity of the series stays intact. Stop on a high before you hit the complete low. I can appreciate and enjoy the books on their own and do the same for True Blood. For me there is no real comparison between the two. But…………. If push came to shove I would pick True Blood and its very own den of inequity. Then I can feel all naughty and enlightened all at the same time.