TrueBlood is one of the worst shows on television. It has a horrendous cast and implausibly ridiculous storylines. I mean, it’s about vampires so implausible, of course, but even for a show about imaginary monsters, it stretches our patience.
However, TrueBlood is also the show I can’t stop watching. I love it. I hate it, but mostly I love it. I love it for its awfulness but also just because it’s so over the top that it makes me need to see what happens next. It’s a sad addiction, this televised affliction.
Sookie is the worst heroine of all time. She’s obnoxious and in your face and naive and selfish and kind of just an asshole. Her selfishness truly knows no bounds and her accent sucks, too. For some reason, everyone in the TrueBlood universe is in love with her. It’s one of those annoying television things where everyone in the cast has to tell us how awesome she is and how beautiful as if we, the audience, can’t see her or watch all the shitty things she does. And worse yet, she spends the first couple seasons with Bill Compton, the worst vampire to ever be a vampire with the worst southern accent ever.
The first two seasons of TrueBlood are actually not so bad for Bill. We hate Bill and Sookie together, if only because of the way Bill says Sookie. But Bill appears, for a while, to have some real depth of character, though this is largely shown through flashbacks. But Bill is basically Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire with all his brooding immortality. However, this all quickly falls apart because Bill sucks all the time.
In fact, most of the cast is just unwatchable. Especially Tara. When will she just die and be gone forever? Anyrate, the best characters on the show are Lafayette, Eric, and Jason. Lafayette is hilarious and sassy and everything we always hoped our flamboyant gay black friend would be. Jason is a labrador retriever [and, oddly enough, the only character able to do a southern accent properly, despite him being from New Zealand] and Eric is a viking sexgod who’s also all kinds of sassy and manipulative, which is certainly a character flaw but at least he’s interesting. Terry’s pretty great, too, as a PTSD Iraqi veteran.
But, yes, the show is just full of the most unwatchable characters to ever be on television. And there are hundreds of them! The first two season keep things more or less contained, but season three just kicks the budget wide open and every other episode introduces ten new character, most of whom will be dead by the finale. The proliferation of characters is absolutely mindblowing at times, especially because the writers won’t let any of the survivors go. If you’re alive longer than three episodes in a row, you are now central to the show, no matter how stupid or tangential your plotline becomes to the seemingly central conflict.
It does keep us from being bored, the way the show is constantly jumping around from werewolves to shifters to vampires to fairies to greek deities to islamic demons to witches to humans and back to vampires. And that’s where the ridiculousness of the writing comes in. They just can’t let anything go and when they come to a roadblock, they just dip their hands in the mythical pool.
‘Why does everyone love Sookie so much? I mean, we’ve made her such a selfish asshole.’
‘…because…she’s a, um…fairy!’
‘That’s brilliant! Yeah, and, uh uh uh uhm, this season we’ll add…uhhhhhhhh werewolves!’
‘Except they’re panther werewolves!’
‘ZOMG WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN!’
I’ve never sat in on one of their meetings but I can’t imagine it’s too different from that.
But part of why we keep watching TrueBlood is because, occasionally, they’ll give us something we can’t live without.
I mean, could you stop watching after that moment? Could you not tune in next week? Even watching it two years later, I want to go back and watch season three. And season three was a mess. Not as bad as season four or five, but that’s where the show just started unleashing its own insanity in terrible freeverse. But, man, Russell Edgington was just about too good for television. He was wicked and adorable and acerbic and delightful. An ancient vampire, a southern gentleman, a sparkling dandy, a member in two evilly adorable homosexual couples.
And then TrueBlood decided to be overtly political to humorous results. When the show began Alan Ball said the vampires were a metaphor for homosexuals. They’re the minority, living in secret, in the shadows. The show begins after they announce their existence to humanity. The show still had some terror in it at the beginning, an ability to actually scare you a bit. The vampires were alien and powerful and there was a whole secret world of vampires doing vampire things in vampire clubs and governments and whatever else. As the vampire and other supernatural creatures became normalised, the show sort of forgot what it was about. Season five has the vampires representing fundamentalist christians, even though season two was all about human evangelical christians killing vampires because they’re unnatural and so on [using, essentially, the same rhetoric they use in real life about homosexuals]. But now the vampires are the evangelicals and the humans are…also evangelicals? Both have become more extreme in that vampires now believe humans are livestock and humans believe all supernatural creatures, from werewolves to vampires, are unholy, ungodly, and unnatural. So now it’s a war between fundamentalists about imaginary things.
Like, I don’t even know.
But, even despite its confused and confusing message[s], TrueBlood keeps pushing onwards, deeper and deeper into its own unsustainable absurdity. We have gods killing the ghosts of loved ones and fairies who are kind of transdimensional humans who live in secret cabarets that seem the right kind of burlesque for every dragshow I’ve ever heard of. In fact, if Rupaul’s not in season six, I just don’t know what TrueBlood’s about anymore.
If you haven’t seen TrueBlood yet, don’t watch it. Please. Just stay away. But if you have, if you’ve been watching since day one like I accidentally have, celebrate it.
It’s a show that works on The Producers principle. If you’ve never seen this glorious movie, it’s about a man who tries to make the worst broadway musical in history so he can bank in on all the money he raised but didn’t use on the show. It only works, however, if the musical is a disaster and instant flop. So he finds the worst script imaginable, called Springtime for Hitler, and then gets the worst cast possible to perform it. Unfortunately, this combination of terrible script and terrible cast leads to the musical being a comedic hit. It’s when two wrongs make a right.
And TrueBlood demonstrates this almost perfectly. While TrueBlood isn’t awesome because it’s hilariously bad, it somehow manages to be awesome because of its badness.
This show is like no other show. It cares nothing for consistency or reason and logic. Everything is in a constant state of flux pushed to its limits. Everything is its opposite even as it is the thing itself. If I thought that any moment of TrueBlood was planned before the moment was typed out, I’d congratulate the writers on making one of the most indecipherable pop culture critiques of modern society ever constructed. It’s a show made for the internet age, for people who can’t seem to focus longer than a Rihanna music video, who needs seven tabs open on wikipedia just to begin to think about writing their midterm sociology paper, who are so steeped in irony that what is ironic and sincere have become indistinguishable to a point that hurts my brain and heart. It’s a show that doesn’t understand itself or its viewers, yet, almost for that very reason, it’s everything we’ve ever wanted television to be.
And I, for one, will never stop watching.