06 July 2009

True Blood, Fangbangers, and Southern Goth

FatScribe is pleased to post the following guest piece by Caleb Garcia.

What makes True Blood tick? How does it work so well? Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris, True Blood is an intelligent, ensemble, character piece containing intriguing themes and large ideas executed through confrontations between characters and provocative story telling.

Six Feet Under creator and producer Alan Ball is the showrunner behind this HBO network drama (his second for HBO). Ball, the Oscar winning American Beauty scribe (and a personal favorite as far as brilliant screenplays go), brings the familiar theme of misunderstood outsiders and sympathetic heroes into a more dangerous world of mystery and sorrow through the southern gothic genre, seen here as the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.

The town is set in present day America but with a twist: thanks to a Japanese-made synthetic blood called “TruBlood” many vampires are living in the open as citizens, integrating with mortals or “mainstreaming” as the vamps have dubbed it (talk about your contretemps in Bon Temps, LA). The central vamp mainstreamer is Bill Compton, a clean-cut, former Confederate gentleman-soldier, committed to a nonviolent existence, even if it means ingesting less-than-appetizing synthetic blood. Bill’s the archetypal outsider and at this narrative’s core is a love story between outsiders. Central protagonist and resident mind-reader Sookie Stackhouse falls for Bill in a ‘love conquers all’ forbidden romance for the ages. But, in true Shakespearean tradition, obstacles aplenty are thrown in our lovers’ way in the form of secrets, prejudices and societal pressures that hinder their developing relationship.

It’s important that, like Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series, Harris writes the central romance from the non-vampire female perspective. Where True Blood succeeds over Twilight (my knowledge limited to just the film version) is the balance of strong human characters being equally, if not more, interesting then the central vampire players. Although we discover that many of the characters are more than what they seem, it’s the human element, the relatable heart and soul of True Blood that stirs the emotion and makes its impact.

Sookie, like Twilight’s Bella, is taking a risk by being intimate with one who craves her blood. Her attraction then is key to understanding the vampire as the quintessential bad-boy. Gone are the leather jackets, Ray Bans, half lit cigs and motorcycles. Bill represents a different type of strong and dangerous man, the powerful dark-side protector who is ennobled by dealing with a multi-century alienation and ever-present feeding urges, even against those he may care for. Or as Roger Ebert once lamented in his Twilight review, “Why do girls always prefer the distant, aloof, handsome, dangerous dudes instead of cheerful chaps like me?

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4 comments:

K. said...

Sounds like a GREAT show! I have only heard rumors of it and now I might try to catch it...

And, Roger Ebert asks a question we women ask ourselves! Life would be easier if we liked the cheerful chaps instead of the tormented ones!

Entertaining guest post...

JGregg said...

Caleb -- Really nice piece. Thanks for sharing with us!! I've never watched True Blood (or been exsanguinated), but might check it out at some point.

Cheers!

John g.

Nickie Goomba said...

The whole concept of a relationship with someone who craves my blood reminds me, eerily, of my first wife.

I'll have to check it out.

Thanks

Caleb S. Garcia said...

Thank you all for the kind comments. This work, like all of Johnny G's, was one of time and dedication. For other work that may or may not be FatScribe worthy, you can always turn your attention to

http://kayleberty.blogspot.com/

Peace and Love,

Caleb S Garcia