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True Blood: Or, What Happens When Your Guilty Pleasure Gets Boring

Good news, friends! True Blood Season 4 came out on Blu Ray/DVD!  So I made my roommate buy it so that I could FINALLY watch it because, really, who can afford HBO? (Most of my friends can, apparently, given their obsession with Game of Thrones.) (Who am I kidding? They’re all Millennials mooching their parents’ HBO Go accounts.) (Which, by the way, you can’t get without actually ordering actual, which seems like a terrible business plan.)  So of course I paid absolutely nothing for it, but was it worth the $35 I forced my roomie to spend? Um, well, probably not.

Apparently Sookie is a fairy now, which is a thing that kind of gets forgotten mid-season.
In a departure from the slow unfolding of mysteries and weirdness that defined the first and second seasons of the show, this year’s storyline was pretty straight forward. This season follows the story of a medium who gets possessed by a Spanish necromancer who got tortured by some Catholic vamps in the 15th century.  The medium’s name is Marnie (adorable) and the Spaniard’s name is Antonia Gavilán de Legroño (whoa).  Anyway, since necromancers can control the dead, this vamp-hating witch is super scary to the vampires of Louisiana, given that they’re dead and she can control them and make them go out in the sun. So they have to figure out a way to bring her down.  Other stuff happens, too, like Eric losing his memory, Tara being a lesbian for a minute, and Alcide being scarily buff, but most of the episodes revolved around Marnie/Antonia being kooky and Sookie waffling between her two beaux.  BORING.  And if there’s anything that you don’t want your sexy dirty guilty pleasure to be, it’s boring.

Marnie/Antonia. Also played Aunt Petunia. No lie.
The first seasons of True Blood drew their awesomeness from their incredibly insular and isolated storylines.  Bon Temps was delightfully dystopic, a backwater town somewhere in Louisiana, lawless, plagued by vampires, where strange deaths and freaky stuff occurred without major consequence. Life revolved around Merlotte’s, Gran’s house, Sam’s trailer, Lafayette’s pleasure palace.  The outside world existed, sure, in Fangtasia or with the vampire that Lafayette scores V from, but the focus is inward, on Sookie and Bill, on Tara, on Sam, with each of their dark secrets unveiling slowly.  All of their drama was important because their drama was all there was, and nothing else existed.  Because of this disconnectedness, all this sex, violence, and supernatural freakiness made sense; it was backwards Louisiana, with bogs and swamps and crocs and vamps.  None of the characters’ actions—from killing to making new vampires to driving drunk—had any long-term consequences because the outside world just simply did not exist.

Seriously 90% of why I watch the show
But by incorporating more characters and casting a wider net into the world of vampires and the supernatural, the show loses a lot of its charm.  By focusing so much on the American Vampire League and the beleaguered quest for vampire acceptance, suddenly the community’s setting and the smallness of their world becomes a hindrance.  Why does the AVL have such a vested interest in Louisiana as opposed to, say, California or New York?  And if Louisiana is so important, how can four vampires get away with walking down a city street with grenade launchers and attempting to blow up a Wicca store? (The answer is a repelling spell, I guess.  But still.) The show obviously has to grow, but by expanding the smallness of Bon Temps too much, the very heart of the show—it’s dark, claustrophobic dinginess, so disconnected from the real world that it feels believable and entirely whole—has gotten lost.  The world got too big, and while I think the writers are trying to reverse that by killing A MILLION CHARACTERS all at once (even Tara??) (BYE Y’ALL!) (But seriously, I’m going to miss Tommy’s butt.), I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to return to the foggy, sweaty, isolated paradise that is Bon Temps.  At least I can rest assured that I didn’t waste any money on it.

But Christopher Meloni is going to be in the next season, so I’ll probably still watch it. (SVU FTW!!)

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  1. Blogger Mark Waller | 5:00 PM |  

    As someone who sorta liked season one, really liked season two, did not like season three (except for Denis O'Hare!) and hated bits and pieces of season four that I saw, I can say that season five is, so far, pretty...m'eh. That is, I'll probably enjoy hate-watching American Horror Story more than I'll enjoy sorta-like-watching True Blood this season.

    Also, I just realized the distinction between "Gran" in TB and "Gram" in Dawson's Creek and IT BLEW MY MIND.

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