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True Blood season 1 review: sucking you in
by Deaana (deaana)
at May 24th, 2009 (08:42 pm)

True Blood season 1 review: sucking you in
May 24, 2:02 PM ·

No one’s good, and no one’s bad. At least, not completely and never on the surface. That’s the trick “True Blood” plays on your perception with its debut season. It is also why the characters are so complex and three-dimensional. Set within a small Louisiana town, the production is so realistic you can practically feel the humidity. Everything about the show gets under your skin; it’s not nice, it’s not pretty, but it is compelling.

Based on the book series by Charlaine Harris, “True Blood” revolves around Sookie Stackhouse in an alternate universe where vampires have come out to the public. Some are trying to mainstream with humans, others are simply looking to have fun and feed. It is with this interesting premise that a string of vampire-related murders occur throughout Bon Temps, dividing the town with their opinions on vampires.

It is an intriguing premise, but it only works because the world is starkly realistic and never overstates itself as a fantasy series. In fact, most of the special effects pertain to hallucinations and dreams, and less so with vampires, shape shifters or werewolves. Yes, the world also has shape shifters and other fantastical creatures. Once again, disbelief is permanently suspended once you immerse yourself in this world. While not all viewers are familiar with the southern lifestyle, the rich world immediately settles you down in their vernacular, habits and beliefs.

Partly a dark comedy, the show is also a satire for homophobia and racism. Cousins Tara and Lafayette are a pair of strong, independent, and cynical characters. While Tara constantly makes people aware of past or present subjugation of African Americans and women, Lafayette stands as a symbol for homosexuals who are willing to stand up for their sexual preferences and beliefs. Actress Rutina Wesley makes Tara into such a believable and sympathetic character, all the while spitting the most aggressive dialogue you have ever heard. It is an interesting combination of hard and soft that makes her pop; like she says, she so confident because she’s not confident at all.

It is the show’s constant contradictions that makes all the characters so interesting. Sookie is a heroine that is a little naïve, a little brave, a little stubborn, a little kind, a little understanding and a little romantic, all at the same time. Her Golden Globe win is truly deserved. Most of the recurring cast are also fully realized and remain vital to the show, something a series rarely takes advantage of. Often times you will get scenes that play as vignettes of the southern life and never adds to the main plot. Monotonous acts such as grabbing a beer, flirting and working at a bar become a portal into the lives of a population. When the show takes such good care of minor characters, the storytelling becomes bigger than life.

Of course, deviant acts also keeps the show alive. The show does not shy away from being literal and graphic (thank you HBO). Even with Bill’s presence, vampires are rarely romanticized and the show makes sure to let you see every drop of blood when they drink and every strand of flesh when they are staked. The idea of taking vampire blood as a form of pleasure is also thoroughly explored, along with humans interacting with humans, whether romantically or socially. Using vampirism as a commentary on modern issues makes the show all that more relatable.

Still, the show does take some getting used to. The show’s very unique aesthetics makes it a bit disconcerting at first. It is an HBO production, which means nudity, gore and drug use are in full play here. The show also starts off very slow and speeds up halfway through, so it may lose some patience along the way. It takes its time and it doesn’t apologize for it, and although critically acclaimed, it can alienate some viewers for that very reason.

Once you get a few episodes down, it is clear that the show plans to stay. Giving us a great setup for season 2 (starting on June 14th), the show promises more deaths, more character exploration, and more fantasy creatures. "True Blood" is so good at being bad, and I can hardly wait.

Rating: 8/10
Author: Robert Kuang