The Ninjabot

Rationalizing True Blood: Because We Need a Reason To Look At Sexy People

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm by Jason Byard

I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, we can admit that True Blood is a bit of a guilty pleasure. What am I saying? It’s a gargantuan one. The sappy love story, the hammy acting and the corny dialogue (my God, the corny, corny dialogue) is all present and accounted for. Ready and willing to make you think less of yourself for thinking so much of it. That kind of cognitive dissonance is no psychological picnic. But be of good cheer. I just binge watched the first five seasons and I’m going to help you rationalize your way through it. So, take my hand, we’re going to get through this together. This is why it’s okay to admit you like True Blood.

Reason # 1: All that sex means it’s not Twilight.

Thankfully, True Blood doesn’t pull its carnal punches the way that Stephanie Meyer’s grotesquely successful literary saga (and its attendant film franchise) does. Indeed it seems to revel in them. In the first season alone you’d be forgiven if you thought that all that stuff with the vampires was just some afterthought written in to fill the time between scenes of hillbillies rutting. My guess is that by the time the were-panthers show up the state of Louisiana must be allocating about two-thirds of its penicillin reserves for the citizenry of Renard Parish alone. That’s pretty important when you’re story is set in a world where vampires and werewolves are real.

Why? Well, because people are realistic in this show. It’s a pretty big leap to ask people to accept a woman falling for a blood drinking living corpse, should we really be in the business of also asking them to accept that said vampire lover has a Sunday school grasp of human sexuality too? Nope. True Blood’s creatures of the night don’t have those hang-ups. They like the nightlife, they like to boogie. They’re for grown-ups.

Reason #2: All that political allegory gives it some superficial sophistication.

That’s another thing you can’t take away from True Blood: its subtext is certainly timely. You don’t need a PhD to watch the show and realize that it’s a complex metaphor for the gay rights struggle. Or that it borrows thematic elements from civil rights movement before it. While it is all a bit ham-handedly done, you still have to give the show credit for tackling those issues in as forthright a manner as it does. Well, as forthrightly as vampire fiction can, I suppose.

russell

That’s an admirable thing. It’s hard not to like a show that makes its point while still entertaining you. And it’s to True Blood’s credit that it can strike that balance between being completely devoid of any kind of cultural or political satire and a descending into Aaron Sorkin self-righteous yammering.

Reason #3: Pam

Okay, so you can take this, as I do, as proof that I was a drag queen in a previous life. But for whatever reason Pam makes the show. TV has been seriously lacking in a complex and compelling female character who is kind of a total bitch but isn’t constrained by that fact alone. Name one. Pam’s great because she’s the perfect prism through which to view the shows flaws.

pam

She calls the characters on their stupid and/or lame behavior and craps all over their sillier ideas the way we do as an audience. She’s our surrogate. Our caustic voice of reason. Pam’s always there to sort of wink and nod and say to the viewer: “Yeah, maybe this is kinda sappy/preposterous/insane, but what can you do?” And sometimes that just enough to make it all okay.

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