Loving to Hate True Blood
When talking about True Blood with other people, it seems that most discussions become a laundry list of everything that’s wrong with the show – an attempt on the part of all involved parties to announce that they have no idea why they watch the cheesy, sex-filled soap opera. Some claim that True Blood is a train wreck – so bad that you have to watch. Others argue that they have faith that Alan Ball is going to make things better eventually, and is just getting warmed up. Frankly, I think the show is precisely what its creators intend for it to be and what its audience enjoys about it.
One of the biggest issues people have is with the accents. They are God-awful, certainly, but if the show runners wanted believable accents, would they have cast a Canadian-born New Zealander and a Brit in the two lead roles of Sookie and Bill, the starcrossed cocktail waitress and her vampire lover? Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer boast Louisiana accents so absurd that they become the sources of highly entertaining drinking games: “Drink very time Moyer says Sookie’s name like he’s having an aneurism” or “Drink every time Anna Paquin uses ‘y’all’ in a sentence like she’s trying to pronounce a foreign word.” Credit where credit is due, Australian Ryan Kwanten, who plays Sookie’s womanizing brother Jason, performs an accent that at the very least excuses him from ridicule, but given that three out of the five leads on the show are foreigners, it doesn’t seem like Ball was trying to achieve air-tight Southern authenticity. In fact, there are only two Southerners in the regular cast: Merlotte’s redheaded waitress Arlene, played by Carrie Preston who hails from Georgia, and the bar’s owner, Sam Merlotte, played by New Orleans-born Sam Trammel.
Then there is the problem with the lead couple – I loathe Anna Paquin, and always have. I hate Sookie Stackhouse, and I find her vampire lover, Bill, ridiculous. Though the two have only known one-another for a few weeks, they’re constantly fighting, making their romance quickly tiresome and irritating. But I also can’t help but feel that Bill and Sookie’s scenes are meant to seem syrupy and ridiculous. Take the scene where Sookie kneels before her beloved’s gravestone (marking the empty grave his family put up when he didn’t return from the Civil War) believing him to have died (again) in a fire, only to have him burst a hand forth from the fresh soil, Carrie-style, grab her ankle and then have sex with her while coated in dirt. The scene was appalling, funny and stupid. Or perhaps my favorite scene from the second-season finale, where Bill – after only knowing Sookie for a couple of months – proposes to her and Sookie rises from the table, tearfully declaring: “I don’t even know what I am!” and runs off to the bathroom where she puts on the ring and is distracted by how large and sparkly it is and forgets that she is inexplicably a telepath with some kind of glowing-hand power. When Sookie bursts back into the restaurant, eager to accept the proposal, she discovers that Bill has been kidnapped – well, that, or he was so pissed at her rejection that he upturned the table Real Housewives of New Jersey-style and took off. These scenes were clearly absurd and it is hard to imagine writing them without complete awareness on B all’s part that this is not going to come off as taut, believable drama.
In short, the show is fun because it’s ridiculous, and if you’re watching regularly, you’re enjoying it – despite your protestations of superior taste and intellect.