is a television series that most horror fans are aware of by now. But just in case you're not, here's a brief rundown: The show began airing in 2008 on the pay cable channel HBO (which means it can, and does, get away with showing nudity and gore in surprisingly large quantities) and is based on the series of books called The Southern Vampire Mysteries
written by Charlaine Harris. The story is set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana and has a rather large cast of characters, but predominantly focuses on Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress who begins a romance with a vampire named Bill. Set in a world where vampires have recently revealed themselves to humans ("coming out of the coffin", as they put it), the relationship is naturally met with some criticism from the residents of Bon Temps. Each season (there are three so far, with the fourth beginning next month) has its own plot line, but there are some continuing threads that hold it all together, including Sookie's relationship troubles (let's just say that Bill isn't the only guy in her life), the origin of Sookie's mysterious abilities, her best friend Tara's attempts to break the cycle of her self-destructive tendencies, and the ongoing rivalry (which alternates between almost friendly and downright hostile) between Bill and the sexy, arrogant vampire sheriff Eric.
In a series as long and storied as True Blood
, with it's complicated relationships and numerous subplots, it would be impossible for me to outline the story without taking up way too much time and space. It's also one of my favorite things, period. This means that explaining everything I love about it is also out of the question. I don't have all night, after all. What I can do is list and explain the Top Five Things I Love About True Blood
1.) It's basically a modern, sexy version of Dark Shadows
. Let's be honest here. It's a soap opera. But it's a soap opera with vampires, werewolves, lots of other crazy mythological creatures, blood, gore, violence, and a mean streak a mile long. While it does have its share of male fans, it is, predominantly, a show for women. The fact that there's a show for women that pulls no punches when it comes to horror just amazes me. The fact that it's a huge success is even better, and will hopefully put to rest the outdated idea that women don't like horror.
2.) It's dripping in southern charm. Being a southerner myself, I've always been drawn to stories set in small, southern towns. The setting of Bon Temps is beautifully displayed and is as much a character as Sookie or Bill. Okay, so a couple of the accents are off (I'm looking at you, Bill), but most of them are spot on. It's even more amazing when you find out that many of the actors aren't even from the U.S., much less the south.
3.) The show has no restrictions on race or gender when it comes to compelling characters. This is best represented by my favorite character, Tara. Strong, beautiful, razor-tongued, and yet possessing a tragic back story and engaged in an ongoing struggle to piece together her broken life in a storyline that is never too far from the main focus, it's very clear that Tara is not just the token "black friend". She can also be totally badass when she has to be, which is impressive considering that she's one of the few characters who is completely human and has no special abilities. There are a lot more awesome characters that are pointedly NOT white men.
4.) The music will blow you away. The opening song "Bad Things" is the kind of song that worms its way into your brain and never leaves. The rest of the music, from the background music to the various vocal tracks that usually close out the episodes, is perfectly suited to the series and perfectly appealing to the ears.
5.) The writing is top-notch. The plots are shocking. The pacing is pitch perfect. The dialogue is by turns clever, hilarious, poignant, and heartwarming. Though I felt the first season's dialogue was a little bogged down by excessive cursing (I realize it's on HBO, guys, you don't need to remind me with every single line from every single character), from season two on, that's no longer an issue. There's still cursing, of course, but now it's mostly from specific characters (from whom it is appropriate) or in intense arguments. Overall, most of the lines are insanely quotable and very memorable. True Blood
is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The episodes from all seasons (repeats) air on HBO from time to time. At the very least, HBO re-airs all the episodes prior to the season premier every year so that new fans can catch up (or old fans can refresh their memories).