Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexandre Skarsgard, Ryam Kwanten, Kristin Bauer van Straten
Summary: Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.
Genre(s): Drama, fantasy
On the lookout for a supernatural drama that can deliver a balanced melange of humor, romance, and gore? Look no more. True Blood has it all, and then some. Based on the book series “The Southern Vampire Mysteries,” by Charlaine Harris, and created by Alan Ball (also responsible for Six Feet Under and American Beauty), the fantasy drama originally aired on HBO, from 2008 to 2014. With an exciting premise, ridiculously hot creatures of the night, snarky dialogue, and fascinating mythology, the show managed to keep its fanbase entertained for seven twisty seasons. Although it didn’t end on a particularly high note, it remains one of the most intriguing vampire series the TV lords ever blessed us with. Pouring yourself a drink and binge-watching some of its steamiest episodes is definitely worth it.
The series follows the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress who just happens to be able to read people’s thoughts. She lives in the fictional town of Bon Temps, a small establishment in northwestern Louisiana. The twist? Not everyone in the city is what they seem. As a matter of fact, the town is populated with all sorts of supernatural creatures: werewolves, werepanthers, shifters, witches, and Faeries. Moreover, vampires are currently mainstreaming, which means they are demanding the same rights humans have enjoyed for quite some time now. You see, Japanese scientists developed a synthetic blood that caters to the vampire population. Consequently, vampires are no longer required to feed on humans, allowing them to “come out of the coffin” and reveal their true selves to the world. This is mainly why the series was popular for its many metaphors about homosexuality, at least in its earlier seasons.
True Blood introduced us to a plethora of quirky, but ultimately lovable characters during its seven year run. There’s Bill, the enigmatic vampire Sookie falls in love with at the beginning of the show. There’s Eric, the hunk vamp who stays true to his nature and looks good doing it. His progeny, Pam, quickly became a fan favorite due to her sarcastic one-liners. We’re also made acquainted to Alcide, a werewolf with puppy-dog eyes, and Sam, Sookie’s boss, who happens to be a shapeshifter. On the more human side, we have Jason, Sookie’s foolish and slightly promiscuous little brother; Tara, the main character’s best friend; and Lafayette, Tara’s cousin, who’s gay, funny, and extremely resourceful. What’s great about True Blood is that these characters are constantly evolving, always in surprising and interesting ways.
Sookie works at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, trying to lead a normal life in spite of her supernatural gift. One day, a vampire walks into the bar, and life as she knew it will never be the same. She’s instantly mesmerized by the vampire’s charms and intrigued by the fact that she is unable to read his mind, which never happened before. His name is Bill. He saves her life after she gets beaten up and romance blooms. They start dating. He explains to Sookie the rules of being a vampire and takes her to Fangtasia, where she meets the irresistible vampire Eric and his progeny, Pam.
Meanwhile, a serial killer keeps murdering young women in Bon Temps. Coincidentally, Jason was hooking up with all these women, so he becomes the main suspect. When Sookie’s grandmother is killed though, everyone realizes that Sookie was actually the target. It turns out that the serial killer was targeting women who associate with vampires. After Bill kills a vampire to defend his girlfriend, he’s forced to turn a young girl, Jessica, into a vamp, as punishment; thus ending up with a progeny of his own. Jessica is a bit immature in the beginning, but the way in which the relationship between she and her maker deepens over the years is touching and fun to watch.
Towards the end of the season, it’s revealed that the serial killer was actually Rene, the fiancé of one of Sookie’s co-workers. When everyone thought the rough patch is over, Sookie and Tara discover a body inside detective Andy Bellefleur’s car.
The main theme of season two involves the disappearance of Godric, Eric’s maker. Eric enlists Sookie and Bill’s help in finding the ancient vampire, which leads our heroes to the Fellowship of the Sun, a church dedicated to anti-vampire activities. Godric was taken by the religious fanatics, who are lead by Sarah and Steve Newlin. Jason also joins the group, but eventually comes to his senses and helps the magnificent trio release Eric’s maker. Unfortunately, Godric decides to meet the sun (which is a fancy way of saying he kills himself). This makes Eric very sad, which is particularly heartbreaking.
Back in Bon Temps, a maenad named Maryann takes over the town and turns it to complete chaos. Her influence on the residents results in mayhem that grows more destructive as the season progresses. She feeds on people’s anger, sexuality, and animal instincts. Luckily, Sookie, Sam, Jason, and Bill are eventually able to defeat her. At the same time, Jessica starts dating Hoyt, Jason’s best friend, and exploring her sexuality. The season ends with Bill proposing to Sookie. He’s kidnapped before she gets to give him an answer.
After Bill is kidnapped, Sookie desperately tries to find her beloved. She asks Eric for help, who introduces her to Alcide, a foxy werewolf who has a fetish for walking around shirtless. We discover that Bill was taken by Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi. Bill is tortured by Lorena, his maker, who is currently helping the king. Luckily, Sookie proves how feisty she truly is by killing Lorena and freeing Bill. The vampire is extremely weak, so Sookie offers him some her blood. Due to his weakness though, Bill almost drains his girlfriend, thus discovering her blood allows him to stand in the sun. That’s when we find out that the waitress is actually part fairy – that’s why she’s able to read people’s minds and sometimes even use magic. A disturbing subplot involves Jason falling in love with a werepanther. He gets tortured by her entourage, which is extremely unpleasant to watch.
The season ends with Sookie discovering that Bill has been lying to her all along. He was actually sent by Queen Sophie-Anne to investigate her and find out more about her fairy powers. A lot of other things happen as well. Russell gets buried in cement, Bill and the Queen fight, Tara leaves Bon Temps, Sam goes on a rage spiral and shoots his brother, Hoyt and Jessica move in together. In the end, Sookie gets taken by her fairy Godmother Claudine to Faerie land.
Sookie discovers that the land of Faerie isn’t the fairytale territory she hoped it would be, so she decides to return back home after a few minutes. In real time though, it turns out she’s been gone for a year. Plenty of things happened in the meantime, including Bill becoming Vampire King of Louisiana.
The main plot of the season, however, has to do with Marnie, a witch who’s able to control the dead. That can’t be good news for our vampire buddies. Lafayette’s boyfriend, Jesus, introduces the sassy cook to the world of witches, and they become part of Marnie’s coven. We find out that Marnie is actually possessed by an ancient witch called Antonia, who is seeking vengeance against all vampires. Eric tries to stop her, but Antonia erases his memories. Sookie finds Eric wandering aimlessly on the side of the road and realizes he has amnesia. He takes him home and all that sexual tension between them turns into a short-lived, but ultimately steamy romance.
Later, Marnie casts a spell on all vampires, forcing them to walk into the sun. This causes Antonia to realize how malignant Marnie has become and leave her body. The vampires eventually kill Marnie, but the witch doesn’t give up so easily. Her spirit possesses Lafayette, kills Jesus, and kidnaps Bill and Eric. Sookie saves the vampires with the help of some very old and very dead friends. She then rejects both and decides to embrace singlehood for a while.
Subplots include Sam’s family problems, Alcide’s troubled relationship with his girlfriend Debbie, and the Hoyt/Jessica/Jason love triangle. The season ends with a plethora of cliffhangers. Russell Edgington escapes, Steve Newlin appears on Jason’s doorstep as a vampire, Eric and Bill kill a reputable member of the Authority (kind of like a vamp government), and Tara gets shot by Debbie in an effort to save Sookie’s life.
In season five, Bill and Eric are captured by the Vampire Authority because of their insubordination. Eric’s vampire sister Nora (spoiler alert: these two are awfully close) is introduced as a member of the Authority who tries to help them escape, but ends up getting captured herself. They’re almost sentenced to death, but they reveal that Russell Edgington is alive and they promise to bring him in if they’re spared. The Authority agrees. With the help of Sookie, the vampires track down Russell and bring him in. However, Russell somehow manages to take over the Authority, alongside Nora and Steve Newlin. They worship a goddess named Lilith and their philosophy is that humans were only created to be vampire food.
Meanwhile, Sookie asks Pam to turn Tara into a vampire as a last resort to save her life. As the season progresses, Tara tries to cope with the fact that she’s a vampire now and develops feelings towards her maker. Also, Alcide deals with his troubled rise to pack-master. Hoyt can’t handle the fact that his best friend stole his girlfriend, so he asks Jessica to wipe his memories and moves to Alaska. Jason and Sookie discover their parents were murdered by a vampire and vow to find out who is responsible. Moreover, Sookie finds out that her power are limited, and she contemplates having a normal life.
Towards the end of the season, there’s a Tru Blood shortage that forces vampires to feed on humans more aggressively. The season ends with the Authority leadership being wiped out during the Tru Blood crisis, and Bill drinking all of the sacred vial of Lilith’s blood. He meets the true death in front of Eric and Sookie, only to rise as a powerful vampire creature shortly after (“Billith”).
The show’s sixth season starts with Jessica, Jason, Sookie, Eric, Pam, and Tara running away from the newly all-powerful Bill. However, Jessica ultimately decides to go back and not give up on his maker just yet.
The vampires have other most pressing things to deal with as it is. The Governor of Louisiana, Burrell, enlists the help of Sarah Newlin and declares war on their kind. In fact, he starts capturing them and locking them up in a camp. The malicious plan to wipe out vampires from the face of the earth also includes tainting the synthetic Tru Blood with a fatal virus called Hep V. Bill realizes he has new powers now, including the ability to see into the future. He has a vision about everyone meeting the sun – Jessica, Pam, Eric.
Later, Nora, Tara, Pam, Jessica, Jason, and Eric get captured separately and taken to camp, where each of them experiences a different type of torture. Eric escapes with his sister, who has been injected with Hep V. The vampires aren’t able to stop the shipment of Tru Blood, so the virus is expected to spread quickly around the world. Bill goes to camp and prevents everyone from meeting the sun by allowing them to drink from his blood, which causes him to lose his powers.
In the meantime, Warlow, a powerful creature who’s part vampire and part fairy, rises and declares his intentions to marry Sookie. He confesses to killing her parents in order to protect her from them. The two start off friendly, but Sookie later changes his mind about Warlow and decides to reject him. In the season finale, she discovers that Warlow is planning to marry her by force and he ties her up. Luckily, her friends get there in time to save her. Warlow’s death leads to everyone losing their ability to walk in the sun. Eric, who’s been chillin‘ on an iceberg far away from the gang, takes it particularly rough.
Six months later, we find out that Bill has become a writer and Sam the mayor, so they collaborate to convince the citizens of Bon Temps that every human should pair with a healthy vampire to protect them, due to the spreading of the Hep V virus. As a side note, Sookie dates Alcide now. The season ends with a horde of Hep V vampires about to attack everyone.
In the season opener, the Hep V vampires attack Bon Temps. Tara dies and plenty of Bon Temps residents get captured. Sookie is now living with Alcide and she tries to help the townsmen find their loved ones. However, things go very wrong and Alcide ends up dead.
Meanwhile, Pam is looking for Eric. She finds him, but discovers that he was infected with the Hep V virus and has given up on life. She’s able to change his mind when she informs him that Sarah Newlin is still alive. After finding her sister, Eric and Pam capture Sarah, but are forced to let her go due to the intervention of the Yakuza (a group of fearsome Japanese gangsters), who also want her dead. The vampires find out that Sarah is the cure to the Hep V infection, and they eventually manage to get their hands on her. Bill also becomes infected with the virus, but refuses to take the cure. Instead, he commands Sookie to accept his true death. In the end, Sookie kills Bill.
There are many subplots to keep you entertained as well. The most notable one involves Jessica. Her boyfriend James cheats on her with Lafayette. Not to worry though, because all is well when it ends well though. Hoyt returns home and he and Jessica reunite, only to get married shortly after.
In the last scene of the series we get a glimpse into the future. Turns out Sookie is pregnant with an unnamed man and she finally lives the normal life she always longed for.
Our Critic Review
True Blood was one of the best supernatural shows on TV, especially during its early run. It’s excelled at combining drama, humor, horror, and romance; consequently delivering a highly entertaining hour of television. The show also became popular due to its sexy characters and shocking cliffhangers that left us hanging every week. Plus, it gave us some truly memorable (and lovable) characters – Pam, for her sarcastic one-liners, Eric, for his attractive bad-boy attitude, and Lafayette, for his snarky comments.
However, the show significantly decreased in quality in its later seasons. Even though it remained quite entertaining, the last few seasons didn’t have a coherent storyline; thus, many of the characters’ subplots felt useless and time-filling.
Still, True Blood remains a great series as a whole. It had a talented cast, a captivating plot, and great visual effects (although the show might not be your cup of tea if you’re not a fan of gore). It’s definitely worth checking out; if not for the storylines, at least for the steamy sex scenes.
VIDEO: The cast and crew say goodbye after seven seasons in this behind-the-scenes featurette.
The potential definitely is there for a bloody good finale. The setup is intriguing enough. Read Full ReviewMark Dawidziak, Cleveland Plain Dealer
After a couple of seasons where the show and its mythology have grown increasingly crazy and outlandish, True Blood returns on somewhat surer footing, with a couple of key cast additions and driving story-lines to bolster the serialised drama. Read Full ReviewBrian Lowry, Variety