True Blood: Coming Back For a Bite

by Irma Arkus

Alan Ball’s exceptional, HBO produced, “True Blood” is coming back in mere days from now. June 14th is the day of the Second Season Premiere, and I cannot wait.

The supernatural drama is full of Southern Gothic: warmth, blood and magic. All set in contemporary America dealing with sudden surfacing of real flesh and blood Vampires, demanding their piece of the American Dream, publicly striving for equality, rights and recognition. All while hiding their secrets, customs and strange habits.

Bon Temps, a small town in Louisiana is a home to Bill Compton, a Vampire who has been around since the American Civil War era. Compton’s family roots are in Bon Temps, and though he is viewed as an outsider, he is literally coming back home to reconcile with his past, including the event that altered his humanity forever.

Compton’s vampiric nature and secrets unravel as he falls for Sookie Stackhouse. Played by Anna Paquin, Sookie is the milk-and-honey girl-next-door. Behind the milk-and-honey covered in light perspiration, lies Sookie’s secret power of telepathy. The little mind-reader is all lonely, and sad, usurped by other people’s desires and secrets, until she meets Compton. Since Compton is dead, Sookie feels at peace and quiet with him, developing an immediate emotional connection.

The undeniable attraction between Sookie and Compton results in a relationship. The kind that surpasses that of a regular human being and a vampire. Compton could not manipulate Sookie as he could an average girl, while Sookie cannot read his mind, as his body is literally dead.

Compton and his vampire brothers and sisters are mired in politics, crime, and blood. The old customs, including vampires’ eating habits are hidden from public eye. What most people expect, and what Compton hopes to come true, is that a vast vampire population transfers from devouring and killing humans, to eating True Blood: a synthetic blood concoction widely available in supermarkets across America.

The ketchupy liquid that runs through no one’s veins is no substitute, as we learn, to the real stuff.

And it isn’t only human blood that is being eaten either. Vampires, chemically altered immortals, are tasty too, as many humans ingest Vampire blood in small quantities. A mere drop of the Vampire blood will propel one to view nature as a Vampire would. A mere drop will also temporarily alter one’s physiology and a feeling of invincibility, sexuality, connectedness will endure for hours.

The market for this expensive and hard-to-come-by substance is very hot.

But the story isn’t only about Sookie and Bill Compton.

Sookie’s sibling, Jason, is a bit of a f***up.

For a while, Jason is willing to screw anyone, and ingest anything handed to him. Jason quickly develops dependency for the blood, and engages in “risky behaviors.” All this would make Jason an awesome rockstar, if it wasn’t for the fact that he works construction, and all women who are involved with him tend to be discovered dead mere hours later. The police see this as a problem.

Besides Jason, Sookie’s brother, there is also Sam. Sam is the local bar owner, a loyal and faithful friend of Sookie, and one who is endlessly in love and fond of her. He is discovered to have a secret of his own, and the season ends with a revelation of Sam’s true nature: the cute man with facial hair is a shapeshifter, and is very good at turning into the sweetest K-9 alive.

While Sookie’s relationship with Bill Compton grows to epic romance proportions, Sam discovers something in Tara, Sookie’s best friend. He finds her an adequate lover, and a great human being, struggling for clarity and survival in the small town of Bon Temps. Tara is a case of neurotic flesh wrestling with issues of abandonment and abuse as perpetrated by her own mother who fought with heavy alcoholism all of her life. Now as an adult, Tara not only supports her mother while trying to rebuild her own life, but also struggles with issues of trust as all her relationships are on thin ice.

Sookie works at Sam’s bar and restaurant establishment together with Tara, and a few other girls. Tara’s cousin, Lafayette, works as the chef.

Lafayette is the local outsider. A confident, stunning and beautiful Lafayette is a marvel who earns more than a few coins on the side by engaging in the entrepreneurial nature of sex industry. Jason’s first taste of the vampire blood comes from Lafayette who deals in this and that. To pay for it, Jason does a video for Lafayette, dancing with a Ronald Reagan mask in his tidy-whities for a pay-per-view website.

Lafayette’s engagements don’t end there. He often sleeps with “clients.” Amongst his boyfriends for pay are elderly men who have political influence. The interconnectedness between the politically influential, far-right Christian anti-Vampire movement, the Fellowship of the Sun organisation, become apparent by the end of the first season.

The Fellowship of the Sun has more than a few prominent supporters, most of which happen to be also fiercely anti-gay, which complicates the nature of Lafayette’s relationships.

Appearances of senseless violence and bigotry are interrupted by discoveries of something wondrous and different. Sam’s real abilities for example, hint at a world that has complexity and diversity, with variety of human and non-human monsters lurking from the shadows.

Tara at the end of the first season, burns so many bridges, that she ends up in a dream-like luxury household with a mysterious mistress. That’s right. I said mysterious mistress.

While on the surface things seem dandy, the monsters lurk beneath. Drew Marshall, known to everyone in Bon Temps as Rene Lenier, is the sweet fiancée of Arlene Fowler, another waitress and Sookie’s confidant working at Sam’s restaurant. While Arlene’s disdain and fear of Compton due to his vampirism initially complicates her relationship with Sookie, her fiancée, Lenier, is at the end of first season uncovered as the ruthless murderer of girls that Arlene and Sookie worked with, and moreover, Sookie’s grandmother.

Humans, it seems, are no better than the vampires they fear.

Amy, for example, a sweet, intelligent girl who Jason develops a strong bond with, reveals herself also as a cruel and controlling sociopath, willing to kill the helpless in order to feed her addiction.

Bill Compton, on the other hand, is the kind of vampire you can bring to your mother, but even he must follow the corrupt nature of social pressures. Compton “turns” an innocent local girl as a punishment for an elimination of another, corrupt vampire who threatened Sookie’s life. At the end of the first season, the murderer, Rene is caught. Jason is at the verge of signing up for the Fellowship of the Sun, and Compton is left with his newly minted vampiric menace as well as an immense guilt and regret that comes along with having to kill and turn an innocent local.

The show is remarkable. From cinematography, acting, to directing…all flawless. The writing that depicts such a sophisticated and complex society is floating somewhere between popcorn goodness, marshmellowy sweetness while baldly proclaimed marvelously intelligent. The tapestry it weaves, and the characters it creates, is truly an enriching viewing experience, and one that should not be missed.


Have you watched the show? Who is your favorite?

Am I the only one who is saddened by the fact that Rene is a murderous psycho? I actually liked him.

What about the detective and the sherif?