Tuned In

A Second Look At: True Blood

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Spoilers for last Sunday’s True Blood coming up after the jump:

When HBO debuted True Blood a year ago, I wanted to like it better than I did:

Like most HBO series, vampire drama True Blood (Sundays, 9 p.m. E.T.) has a fantastic title sequence. To the tune of Jace Everett’s dark country single Bad Things, images of death, lust and religious frenzy flash by. A woman writhes in black lingerie … a preacher lays on hands … a Venus flytrap snaps shut on a frog. It’s a fever dream of Eros wrestling Thanatos in the middle of a tent revival. Damn! I think. I want to see the show those titles are for.

And maybe someday I will…

Over the past couple episodes, for the first time I feel like I actually am watching that show. My problem with True Blood had always been, as I wrote in that initial review, was that it was too caricatured. Well, it still is, I guess, when it comes to its human characters: in particular, the Jesus freaks of the Fellowship of the Sun are way too easy, simplistic targets for a show that still wants to say something about social prejudice. It’s easy to feel superior to them, so we never really have to think or learn about them. (As opposed to, for instance, the more complicated Big Bads from any season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

To an extent this is still true of most of True Blood’s human characters–as well as whatever Sookie is. (Though to give credit, Jason has become more rounded and interesting as the show has gone on.) But the vampires are fascinating: the recent arc with the Christ-like uber-vamp Godric, in particular, introduced a complexity to the vampires’ worldview, and view of themselves, that the show had been missing. I was disappointed the show killed him off so quickly, but it was a fitting end, and I’m hoping this just means the show will delve deeper into vampire society and its divisions.

That, and Marianne–with her orgiastic ecstasy sessions–is a most interesting villain (or is she?) for this season. I doubt True Blood will never match Buffy for me, but I’m sticking with it again for a while. Now if only its humans could have as much life as its undead.