On True Blood:
Wow, so I’ve had lots of people banging on at me to get my hands on this show and join its legion of followers. Since having the show thrust into my hands I must admit I’ve not once come close to falling on my knees to bask in the almighty glory of the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse.
The show comes so very close, and yet falls so very short of being a truly capitivating television experience. It has a static social hierarchy and a gerontocratic political system for the vampire set, sure to please the Anne Rice and Vampire: the Masquerade fans out there. It’s dropped hints of a larger supernatural world – who knows what surprises await there? They’ve dropped several story threads which might be interesting to see how they play out. But there are some serious flaws here that I think will drag this show off the air once the ‘shiny’ factor of all the supernatural bits wears off.
If a show chooses to be the kind of show where one character is central to everything, that character must be compelling enough to carry that burden, and must have some trait that lets the viewers want to follow that character’s story. Take, for instance, the BBC’s Nighty Night – the sitcom revolves around a character who is mean and nothing more. I had no desire to watch more than one episode because the character was unidimensional, with no redeeming qualities. On the other hand, we have Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder, who is every bit as vile as Jill from Nighty Night, yet his sharp tongue and quick wit make me want to follow his adventures – in fact, they’re a part of his meanness, and yet when conveyed with brilliance I end up being okay with liking Blackadder for being a dick.
So what does this have to do with Sookie Stackhouse? She, as written, comes across as a simpleton. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a future episode they reveal she used to ride the short bus to Bon Temps Elementary. Why on earth am I vaguely interested in following some doe-eyed halfwit bungle her way around the myriad of complex situations she doesn’t appear to understand? Oh, wait, I’m not. The only time she does something other than pout and ask stupid questions is when she’s throwing tantrums like a down syndrome kid.
Second, it’s hard for me as a viewer to become embroiled in the drama when none of the characters show any interest in said drama. Everyone in Bon Temps seems bored. Completely, totally and utterly bored. I can understand that for the fat lady who spends all day on her porch watching traffic go by, but we’ve got a bisexual drug peddler, a shapeshifter, and every other goddamned fuck-up in town, not one of whom seems concerned about anything other than who the next shag is. Yeah, they’re saying words that convey messages of concern, but there’s no feeling behind the speech. Maybe they’re trying to portray a small-town vibe, but I ain’t feeling it.
Oh, and, seriously… the shapeshifters and vampires managed to go undetected for thousands of years in this world? Come on. The lack of humanity of the nesting vampires sticks out like dogs’ balls. Sam couldn’t go a single season of the show without accidentally revealing his true nature, and yet it’s a big secret a whole species is hiding? Whaaaaaat? If you’re going to try and fit paranormal elements into the world I live in (or a world you’re trying to make look like the one I live in), do a bit of work to make them fit in* for the love of Jeebus.
Those are two flaws that True Blood needs to fix if it wants more than two seasons before it gets sent packing. Then again, worse shows have lasted longer.
* Mark my words, when Kings comes out in March – I have a very strong feeling that this show will do the alternate world thing right.