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True Blood: Season 1

What She said:

She

I remember all the hoopla when True Blood first started airing on HBO back in 2008.  I actually had HBO at the time, part of some promotional package offered by my cable provider.  Ordinarily, I never splurge for the premium stations, as I find they mostly play the same six movies on loop on all five of their channel offerings.  But anyway, so yeah, I actually watched True Blood: Season One when it aired, way back when.  But I found myself not loving it, distracted by all the in-your-face sexual stuff, and forgot most of the general storyline from that season.  With some HBO programming now available through Amazon Prime, I thought it was about time for the older, more mature version of me to revisit the series.  Who knows, maybe this time around I would love it like so many others do…

As you probably already know, True Blood follows Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) a sweet but naïve twenty-something waitress living in Louisiana.  This particular town of Bon Temps is home to all kinds of crazy supernatural things.  For starters, Sookie is a telepath, although people really single her out as weird because of it.  But beyond Sookie’s ability, there’s so much more creepy going on.  We’ve got vampires.  Oodles of them.  And they’re quietly waging a war with normal folk for rights among human society.  Oh, and one of our characters also happens to be a shape-shifter.  What a town, right?

Well, Sookie is simply adorbs, and when she meets vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), it’s pretty much love at first sight.  She may be a little younger than his 173 year-old form, they won’t let age come between them.  What might come between them is his status as a vampire, and although Bill is more civil than most, he still leads a different lifestyle from the living.

Season One focuses of Sookie and Bill’s relationship to the backdrop of mysterious murders in Bon Temps.  Someone is killing women who are known to have relationships with vampires.  But, in an unfortunate case of wrong-place-wrong-time, Sookie’s womanizing brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), also always seems to show up at the scene of the murders.  Whoops, maybe he should lay off the ladies for a little while, eh? 

True Blood: Season 1

We also meet Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), Sookie’s best friend who is a tough gal, but also extremely troubled.  The first season follows Tara as she tries to make sense of her life, including her mother’s ongoing and out of control alcoholism.  This all leads to Tara’s mother, and eventually Tara herself, turning to voodoo magic to try to cure themselves of their troubles.  Tara also has a tendency to hook up with her and Sookie’s boss, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), owner of the local restaurant and watering hole Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.  Even though Tara and Sam kind of have a thing going on, it’s really Sookie that Sam is infatuated with, and boy is he ever!  I think it’s because she has that dew-eyed fawn thing going for her.  But anyway, there’s lots of tension between Bill and Sam in Season One, as they compete for Sookie’s affections.

There’s tons of themes going on in Season One—discrimination, religion, sex, drug addiction, and family.  True Blood is this product that vampires drink instead of human blood.  It is designed to make them less lithesome to and dependent on people.  But in the meantime, humans are draining vampires of their blood because it acts as a drug when ingested.  So the two sides are not playing nice, and this causes all sorts of problems. 

While I found True Blood to be entertaining, even the 31 year-old version of me finds it to be quite graphic at times.  By the third episode, I was already exhausted by all the nudity.  I would NEVER want to live in Bon Temps if the people there were so averse to wearing their clothes.  This is without even taking into consideration the murders and blood suckers. 

The acting on this show is pretty good, except I don’t like Stephen Moyer.  Something about the way he says Sookie is actually humorous and distracting.  Every time he says it, I giggle.  It’s an impulse.  I felt like he overacted way too much.  I guess it’s impossible for the dead to be subtle.  But everyone else on this show is pretty solid. 

True Blood: Season 1

The plot for Season One was interesting and fun to watch unfold.  I’d stop short of calling it groundbreaking, but I do like the themes that the show works with.  On the downside,  I think they make everything so overtly sexual and graphic that it actually works against the show.  It serves to trivialize things. 

Visually, the show looks great.  It’s gritty, and benefits from a movie look, despite being a television show.  This is a welcomed trend in television dramas, and helps to give authenticity to what the viewer is taking in.  The setting definitely looks and feels like Louisiana.  You can very quickly figure out the location without being told, based purely on the visuals.

I’m not convinced this show is a wonderful as some people make it out to be, but I was satisfied enough to want to move forward with Season Two.  I’d say that it’s a lot to take in, but it’s also intriguing, and so I’m going to hang in there for at least another season.

Thumbs half up.

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