A few weeks ago, HBO premiered True Blood, a new series created by Alan Ball (American Beauty and Six Feet Under) and based on a series of supernatural mystery novels by Charlaine Harris.
The premise and the backstory of True Blood aren’t wholly original (but in the genre of vampire fiction, very little is), which makes it an odd choice for HBO. But the fact that the network is willing to put a little faith in this story of the outed undead gives me a little hope that this series will become more than it appears upon viewing the first couple of episodes.
In the first episode we were introduced into a world where a Japanese synthetic blood provides vampires with all of their nutritional requirements, allowing them to safely co-habitate with we humans without the threat of them feasting upon all of our tasty blood. But there are political ramifications for this. And this shared existence does not sit well with everyone.
While the homosexual metaphor, illustrated by obvious hints to we viewers with such phrases as “coming out of the coffin” and “God hates fangs”, may have some legs, Mr. Ball has a lot of work to do in meantime to establish the rules and logic of this world. Because not only are there vampires in our convenience stores buying fake blood, ore putting down roots in small Southern towns and or appearing on TV, but the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, is a telepathic waitress, and all signs point to her boss being a lycanthrope.
This is a lot of information to throw at the average viewer. The show does try hard to keep our attention by throwing in some nakedness and sexing around at strategic moments, effectively bridging some of the stiff character introductions.
But I’m hoping that HBO has learned from their experience with Tell Me You Love Me: parades of sweaty naked people do not automatically guarantee success. They did, after all, just commit to a 2nd season for the show. Which is more than the last couple of original series got.
I sincerely hope that once we’ve bought into everything, put in our time watching the first couple of episodes that creak with the weight of exposition and establishing shots, that there’s a hell of a reward for our efforts.
Sadly, I’m pessimistic. I’ve not read the novels that this series is based on, but if this show is just the tale of a spunky, telepathic prude who’s in love with a handsome and mysterious vampire and goes around solving mysteries in a grungy little Louisiana town, while being followed around by a weredog boss, horndog brother, and bitchy best friend…I don’t think I’ll stick around for long.