Season Five of True Blood starts on June 10. I’ve watched all four seasons. I’ve also read all of the books, except the most recent one. I kind of gave up on them, to be honest. I got tired of them, and then sj read the most recent one and told me it wasn’t worth it – and when sj talks, I listen. So I’m not running out to get it.
Now, listen. I loved Season One of True Blood. I thought it was one of the most innovative, intelligent, funny, sexy, dark and twisted shows on television. And talk about eye candy! Whoo!
Then Season Two happened. And Season Three. And Four.
I keep watching. I keep buying HBO and watching the damn thing. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Season One to come back, I guess? I’m kind of stubborn like that. I’m still waiting for Saturday Night Live to get funny again, like twenty years later. I know, you’re all flummoxed by this development. WHAT? you’re thinking. Amy is an OPTIMIST? Not about most things, my little jellybeans. But about good television? Yeah. I kind of am. I always have this hope in the back of my mind that if something was good once, it can be good again. I’d be the rat in the scientific study that, once she stepped on the lever and got pellets, would CONTINUE stepping on the lever until her little paw was bloody, even though NO PELLETS EVER COME OUT AGAIN, because DAMMIT, ONE TIME PELLETS CAME OUT, and there is a CHANCE that PELLETS WILL COME OUT AGAIN.
So sj and I have been talking about the series. She’s just finishing up Season One. I felt like, when I was talking to her, I should pass along some of my knowledge of the show to her, so she can be forewarned while watching. Things I wish I’d known while I was watching. Things I think sj SHOULD know, because I like her more than pudding and I hate that she’s going into this blind like I did. What if she runs into an ottoman in that dark room all blind like that and bruises her shins? I’d hate that. Her poor banged-up shins.
So, this is for sj. I promised her I would be as spoiler-free as possible, and I will. Some might slip in. I’ll try to keep them minor. What? What’s that shouting? Oh, ok, FINE, it’s also for all of YOU. You can all benefit. Whether you’ve watched it or are thinking of watching it or have no interest in watching it. I’ll try to put in something for EVERYONE. Oh, shit, Ken hates horror things. Um. I’ll make a reference to tea somewhere in here, Ken, but you won’t know where it is, so you’ll have to keep reading to find it. It’s like Where’s Waldo, only TEA. Oh, also, I’ll put in some pictures of pretty ladies for you. Because you like pretty ladies. See? Something for EVERYONE. Don’t you even DARE tell me I’m not all-inclusive. I LOVE ALL THE THINGS.
Without further ado:
HOW TO WATCH HBO’S TRUE BLOOD (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’VE READ THE BOOKS) WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
Ignore Bill and Sookie. I know. They’re the leads. But they’re horrible. And for a real-life married couple, they have zero chemistry onscreen.
I learned this about three episodes in. Both Bill and Sookie are HEINOUS. Neither Stephen Moyer or poor Anna Paquin (what happened? She had such potential!) are very good actors to begin with, and their characters are SO EFFING ANNOYING. Then, throw them together as a couple, and it’s like watching two department-store mannequins try to figure out how to do the horizontal mambo. They never seem to know where to put their hands or legs or lips. It’s like watching people try to figure out IKEA instructions naked. It’s really awkward. And they’re MARRIED! In really real LIFE! Man, I hope their real-life sex life isn’t that weird. Or maybe that’s their thing, I don’t know. Bloodless mannequin sex. I mean, it takes all kinds, I don’t want to be judgey.
Side note: You are allowed to pay attention when Bill or Sookie is interacting with other characters, but only for the other characters, because for the most part, the secondary characters are quite good. More on that later.
Side note to the side note: The only time you’re allowed to pay FULL attention to Bill is when he and Jessica are having a father-daughter moment. Those are totally allowed and the only time Stephen Moyer pulls the stick out of his ass. It is most likely because Deborah Ann Woll is made of magic.
Enjoy the hell out of the secondary characters.
For as awful as Bill and Sookie are, the secondary characters are very good, and in some cases, fantastic. First, there’s Eric. I know, he’s more of a lead character than a secondary one, but I think Bill and Sookie are supposed to be the romantic leads. Pardon me while I vomit in my handbag. I love Eric. Please let me all-caps that. I LOVE ERIC. Poor Alexander Skarsgård. He’s not always given the best material to work with, but he really knocks what he’s given out of the park.
Then there’s Jason. Listen, Jason is my sweetheart. Jason makes me laugh to tears and also he’s just so adorable you want to pinch his cheeks. He’s everyone’s adorably dumb little brother. He deserves a better sister than annoying self-involved Sookie.
Andy, who gets better as the series progresses (although I’m not liking where the end of Season Four seemed to be taking him.) Lafayette, who I love when they’re allowing him to be his sassy self, but not so much when he has to be all action-star or weird shaman or whatever. Terry! Aw, Terry, with his PTSD, how much do I love Terry! Alcide, who really doesn’t have to say much, I just want him to walk around shirtless for at least ten minutes per episode, it should be like a show requirement.
And the ladies! Pam, who is my FAVORITE vampire badass, and her adorable relationship with Eric, and her comebacks and her snark. And Jessica, who I totally have a crush on because she’s just luminous and also her character makes me cry. I have a weakness for characters that are trying REALLY HARD to do well, and sometimes fail, but just keep trying, you know?
So, yeah. If for no other reason, keep coming back for the secondary characters. They make the show worthwhile.
Don’t expect the show to follow the books. Actually, take what you know about the books, expect the opposite, and then imagine the worst possible direction the show could go, and you’ll know what’s about to happen.
I was a big fan of the books when I started watching the show, and was SO EXCITED because I love knowing what’s going to happen and was all, “This is where THIS happens!” “This is where THAT happens!” and none of it ever happened. Or the opposite happened. Or the worst possible twist on it happened. Alan Ball, who did such a great job with my beloved Six Feet Under, is kind of all over the map with True Blood. It’s like he reads the books, and thinks, “Hmm, no, this isn’t working for me. It’s got PLOT and it makes SENSE. How can I change this up? I’ll erase the plot…and make it INCOMPREHENSIBLE…oh, and throw in some boobies. And some witches.” Don’t expect much in the series to be taken from the books. You’ll be so disappointed. The only thing you’ll see from the books is that they’re both set in Louisiana and there are some of the same basic characters. Oh, and there are vampires. Bitey, bitey vampires.
Enjoy the pretty accents.
I’m a sucker for all things Louisiana. I especially love the accents. Take, for example, René. His “cher” makes me MELT. It makes me laugh that most of the people in the show either don’t have a southern accent, or, even FUNNIER, are from another COUNTRY and have a FOREIGN accent and are FAKING their southern accent (some with better results than others, SOOKIE.) I’m still a sucker for their southern accents, fake or no. I WILL go to Louisiana before I die and hear the accents in real life, I WILL DAMMIT.
Enjoy the subtext that vampirism = homosexuality.
I think this is an intelligent take on vampirism, the “vampiphobia” mirroring homophobia. I think they could go further with it, actually. It’s a nice take on “the other” and our fear of that.
Enjoy the theme song and credits and whatever song they play over the end credits.
No matter how shitty the show is, the theme song makes me rock out. The credits are well-done, and the song they blast into at the end is usually extremely well-chosen and something I love. The music is stellar on the show. I highly approve of whoever’s in charge of that. Here, watch Jace Everett’s “Bad Things” from the credits. I love it.
Pretend that Season Two didn’t happen. Also, most of Season Four.
sj, you’re not there yet. So I won’t spoil. Other than to say: maybe you should set your expectations low. No. Lower. Lower than that. LOWER THAN THAT SJ. How low? Um…sleazy-top low. Winner-0f-a-limbo-contest low. You-dirty-dawg-you-done-me-wrong low. Earthworms-have-to-look-up-to-see-it low. They’re not good. They’re really not good at all. There are some funny bits (JASON!) but otherwise, they’re really kind of embarrassing.
Stare at Eric whenever possible. (Caveat: only after he cuts his hair.)
I don’t enjoy men with long hair. I have history with this, it’s a whole big thing, I don’t want to go into it. FINE, there was this GUY, he was BAD NEWS, blah blah blah, all the long hair, moving on. (Dear loved ones who are reading this who have long hair: obviously I am not referring to you. I love your hair, and please leave it the way it is. I wouldn’t recognize you otherwise.) Anyway, when Alexander Skarsgård first came on, I was all, “oh?” then I was all, “oh.” Because, pretty! But, all that hair. But listen. There’s a haircut coming. A totally epic haircut. And then, my friend. You are allowed to drool over Eric ALL THE LIVELONG DAY. Because he is SO SO PRETTY. And he doesn’t have that hair that reminds me of my ill-begotten youth. Misbegotten youth? Whatever, it was begotten poorly. And sometimes he does this looking up from under his lashes pouty-face thing? I can’t even. JUST WATCH HIM ALREADY.
Enjoy when the men take their shirts off. It’s nice. SO NICE.
I swear the casting call for True Blood went thusly:
“OK, go ahead and read the scene, please?”
“Hello, Sookie, I am a vam-pie-ear. I woood like to drink yore blood now.”
“Great, great. Take off your shirt, please?”
“Your shirt. Take it off.”
“I’m going to have the production assistant spray you with this. It’s water and glycerin. It’s supposed to look like sweat. Bear with me a minute, ok?”
“Flex for me?”
“Great. You’re hired.”
“Did you want to hear my Hamlet monologue, or…”
“Shit, no, please don’t worry about it. Acting is not why you’re here, Slappy Jones.”
This of course does not hold true for Alexander Skarsgård, who is PERFECT SHUT UP HE IS.
All the men are pretty. Well, except Bill. I can’t even look at him, so deep does my hatred run. Oh, well, I guess Andy’s not so pretty. But I like Andy. He’s got a good heart. I just think he should probably leave his shirt on.
Enjoy Eric’s backstory.
Every once and awhile we get to see Eric’s backstory where he’s all Vikinged out or whatever and it is VERY EXCITING YO. Also, that means more Eric in an episode. And as I’d be pleased if the show were renamed “The Eric, Pam, Jessica and Jason Hour” I’m completely down with more Eric all the Eric EVERY BIT OF ERIC!
Try not to get angry whenever Bill says “Suckehhhh!”
Seriously, you’re not going to be able to unhear this now. Listen to Bill. He doesn’t say “Sookie.” He says “Suckehhhh!” EVERY DAMN TIME. It is STABBIFYING in the EARHOLE. And to make it worse, Sookie calls him “Beeeeeeel!” So you get a lot of “Suckehhh!” “Beeeeel!” back-and forth-nonsense. It is in these times I recommend going to your happy place. I suggest remembering how hot Eric is, so you can have those memories to fall back on when the “Suckehhh!” “Beeeeel!” gets too much. (Spoiler alert: even once is too much.) Also, heads-up, the “Suckehhh!” “Beeeeel!” is at its worst when they’re in bed together in the “throes” of “passion” (i.e. acting like a couple of blocks of wood who have never learned to respond to human touch) or one or the other of them is not in sight of the other so they use each other’s names like bats use echolocation. If I lived in their town I would stab myself in the ears like that kid in Equus did in the eyes so I didn’t have to listen to that all the live-long day. Or, night, I guess. Since he’s a vampire and all. This is making me all fired up. I think I should have a nice calming beverage to relax. I wonder what I should have? Oh, wait, I know. TEA. (Impressed, Ken? I just sliiiiid that right in there. Like I was stealing home.)
Suspend your disbelief. And your anger. Your totally justified, righteous anger.
Listen, sj. You’re one of my favorite humans. I don’t want you to trip over the ottoman of True Blood. I really don’t. So here’s the bottom line. It’s…well, not very good. Season One was good. Season Two sucked a whole entire gigantic BAG of dicks. Season Three tried really hard and almost didn’t blow. And Season Four was…well, also pretty bad. I don’t even have high hopes for Season Five, I really don’t. But there are pretty people with their clothes off. And Jason makes me laugh. And Jessica is the prettiest and I covet her perfect hair. And I want to lick Eric like a Norse lollipop. But, yeah. It’s…well, it’s not Buffy, you know? Or Veronica Mars. Or Arrested Development. Or a million other shows that were good. It’s not. Good, I mean. But if you just watch it as pretty escapism? It’s nice. It’s kind of silly and people are pretty and they sometimes get naked and when Beeel and Sukehhhh come on, I just tune out and think of Eric. Alllll the Eric.
So hurry up and get to the haircut already. So we can DISCUSS.
What do you think, oh-great-and-powerful-ones? Tell me I’m not the only one still watching it. I’m not, right? If I am, FINE. More Eric for ME. No, seriously, hands-off, he’s kind of mine, I called dibs, I think.