Reviews

'True Blood' is the 'Twilight' for the Over 17 Soap Opera Crowd

If you aren't careful you may end up liking it...

Photo: HBO

The fake southern accents, the acting and just about everything else having to do with HBO's new vampire series "True Blood" is cheesy and soapy. It has the cheap feel of a trashy romance novel. It's "90210" with fangs. It's "The O.C." if Ryan was a vampire and Marissa was a voluptuous and equally chaste backwoods hillbilly waitress. Yeah, there are a few differences there, but it's all the same. Only thing is, I am not saying these things to be mean. I enjoyed "The O.C.", all four shitty seasons of it. I just received my review copies of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" so I am down with soapy immaterial television. Toss in vampires, a ton of sex, violence, nudity and the promise of werewolves and I am sold... at least for now.

"True Blood" is based on a world created by novelist Charlaine Harris centered on Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) a girl with one hell of an awful name and an awful accent, but a body worth staring at for 60 minutes so it shouldn't be much of a problem. Sookie is a waitress at a bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana, and instead of focusing the story on a bunch of hillbilly love trials and tribulations, vampires enter the picture.

The Japanese have invented a form of synthetic blood and due to its creation vampires have decided to step out of the shadows of legend and make a place for themselves among the living. All the old myths hold true, but as synthetic blood is now sold in your local mini-mart in the form of the bottled drink Tru:Blood, vampires no longer have to rely on human blood to survive.

The show finds its footing as vampires move into Bon Temps and create something of a stir, while also fighting for equality in the world. Comparisons can easily be drawn to any race, religion, gender or group fighting for equal rights over the course of history. Subject to prejudice and stereotypes vampires are feared, of course, but also shunned by much of society and it makes for the show's tension when Sookie takes an innocent interest in the town's new arrival, a 173-year-old vampire by the name of Bill (Stephen Moyer).

After watching the first two episodes of the show, which is set to premiere on HBO on September 7 at 9 PM, I can honestly say I wanted to quickly pop in the third episode as each episode ended on a drastic cliffhanger. A tactic I don't exactly find fair in today's TV viewing and is a large reason for disgruntled fans forced to wait week after week to find out what the true goal of each prior episode really was before digging themselves into another hole. The problem in this case is that "True Blood" offers very little to enjoy outside of an interest in the cliffhangers. The investment you have put into each episode will only be paid off if you return the following week and it's the only reason I wanted to keep on watching.

Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill the Vampire (Stephen Moyer) in HBO's "True Blood"
Photo: HBO

Sookie is hardly an interesting character on her own and Bill the Vampire (a name surprisingly more laughable than Sookie) is just about as uninteresting as he could possibly be. As a fan of vampire stories myself I never thought a character intended to be mysterious could be so boring. I never really wanted to get to know him at all.

If I were to complain about something outside of the acting, stupid character names and cheesy plotlines, I would have to mention the vampire fang effects. I'm sorry if this seems like a nitpick, but to me the fangs are an important aspect of any vampire film or TV show and when they appear as if they were dental switchblades it really gave me more of a chuckle than a scare. I like the slow growing vampire fangs that add an increasing sense of dread as they finally take their full shape. The fangs in "True Blood" appear as nothing more than sharp little annoyances that only get in the way.

What appears to be a shape-shifting bartender that appears as a Labrador retriever and the annoying grandmother played by Lois Smith are just a couple of other things that bothered me. However, as with any soap opera everything is going to bother you, but if the story works you remain interested. And the story works enough to the point I can see folks getting into this show, at least long enough to figure out if they are willing to stick with it for the duration or give up before they get too invested.

I have never read Harris' novels, but having read "Twilight", the first book in the Stephenie Meyer's vampire/human love novels, I saw instant parallels between the two and it makes perfect sense as to why this show would be made considering the fandom around Meyer's trashy novels. The only difference is that "True Blood" is made for a completely different audience. While both serve something of a soap opera crowd, "Twilight" is more of an after-school special while "True Blood" is more of a "Melrose Place". I can see the "Twilight" fans actually being offended by the gratuitous use of sex and violence in "True Blood" considering "Twilight" is rather innocent in its more prurient aspects, the only real comparison is in its theme, but the comparison is there nonetheless.

HBO would be much smarter to play the first two episodes of "True Blood" back-to-back on premiere night as the second episode titled "The First Taste" has a far more interesting cliffhanger than the first episode and basically guarantees the majority of the audience would return for a third episode, but I guess when you are only running 12 episodes a season you can't exactly blow 16% of your load on opening night.

If any of this sounds intriguing, tune in this Sunday, September 7 at 9 PM on HBO and check the show out. Below is a look at the trailer for "True Blood" and you can click here to check out a gallery of pictures from the show.


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  • http://www.myspace.com/weretigerquinn chelliemo

    You called Twilight "trashy" and two breaths later called it "an after school special." You seem to have some issues as to whether or not you like this genre.

  • kiriabrave

    ...You're comparing a TV pilot to a Young Adult book.
    And you say you've never read Harris' books, yet you can draw parallels between the two series?
    Uh, it doesn't work that way.
    Yeah, they ARE two different audiences, but why are you judging a book series you've never read to a pilot you saw based on them? It's HBO, they sex things up. Calling the Southern Vampire series 'Melrose Place' is like calling the Twilight series 'good literature.'
    Get it together.

  • http://aplaceofinterest.com/tycox/ tycox

    I just watched the pilot episode and I must saw......HOW THE FUCK DID THAT SHOW EVEN GET MADE?????? That shit was stupid! I don't know what s worse the writing or the stupid accents!!! I could barely sit through the whole episode!!! I cant believe Alan Ball the creator of Six Feet Under put his name on it.

    • regina

      fuck off then if u dont wanna watch get the fuk outa here oright and fuk off dont talk about that series like that son of a bitch

      • sara

        You type like a complete idiot.

  • iluvtwilight

    OK first of all, Twilight nor any other work done by Stephenie Meyer is what I would consider "trashy". I also dont understand how Twilight can be "trashy" and "an after school special" at the same time. Im 21 years old and i love Twilight, my mom who is in her 50's loves Twilight too, so i dont think its fair to refer to it as a book for the 17 and under soap opera crowd. This article should not have included Twilight at all...the only similarity the two works of art hold is the vampire/human love issue. There are millions of differences, i think you used Twilight in the article to get more people to read it. Shame on you!

  • zepjam420

    True Blood is a fine show. What vampire story have you ever heard of were people use the blood of vampires as a drug? Very original and much cooler than a vampire that glitters in the sun like a member of a parade in Greenwich Village. Twilight was written by a Mormon

  • Julia

    True blood is not cheesy or soapy. It is really creative, and is definitely better then Twilight.

  • Chris

    Has anybody ever heard the quote " Beauty is in the eye of the beholder " ?
    im sure you have. Point is we have differnt veiws and opinions.
    Mamma alwalys said " if you aint got nothing nice to say, then SHUT THE FUCK UP! "
    Seriously, lets just keep the peace for Twilight and TrueBlood.

    Whoever points the finger, how many fingers point back?

    that was a f u to all the naysayers including the person who wrote this article

    haha just kidding

    but really

    Peace <3

  • Deb

    Brad, you have the right to your own opinion, but in this case I say u suck!!!
    I havent read the books by Charlaine Harris yet but I have ordered them since watching all of Season One. You really did a disservice. You compared True Blood to Mellrose Place???? Who cares if you didnt like the series, there are many many many who do and I am one of them.
    Peace out dude!!

  • Ashley

    I think twilight is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy better than true blood. This show is nasty and digusting, and wierd. Theres no point for it to T.V. Now twilight is a beautiful romance story that is exrtodinary, it makes scence and it gives the vampires a better image. What story do you know that drinks the blood of an animal to continue to love your beloved. It romantic and sweet and it shows how "edward" the vampire would risk his own life to save her, even if it means killing himself. Not backing down to the town's sheriff vampire because of how old he was. Also is twilight the vampires werent disgusting horndogs, that have sex with humans for the fun of it. In the book breaking dawn "twilight series" when Edward did have sex with bella it was romantic and sweet because he was carefull with knowing how fragil she is not biting her own the neck for no apperent reason. Now some people may like true blood better than twilight but thats there opinion, but as a person who reads alot I think twilight is more classier, more romantic, and mezmorizing book that keeps you begging for more. Even the movie twilight was better than the whole t.v. series of season 1 of true blood....................so all I have to say is I give respect to the people that respect twilight but fuck all yall bitches thats hatin on Twilight because you know its better.

    • sara

      To read so much, your grammar and spelling are deplorable.
      And don't be so fucking pious... get laid for fuck's sake and stop whining.
      Both twilight and true blood are garbage for semi-literate teens and lonely middle aged overeaters and that's just fine. But your post isn't. It hurt my eyes seeing the English language butchered so mercilessly. Shame on you.

  • Z

    First off, the title to this article is very wrong. I am 15, and I know several other people my age who love True Blood and can't wait for next season, so don't give it an age rating.
    Second, the lore of vampires varies from story to story, so the effect of the fangs (just like the sparkling in the sunlight) is just a new take on the legend we cannot truly understand but have been around since the beginning.
    Third, read the damn books for yourself before going off and commenting on something you know absolutely nothing about. I've been reading them myself and have found them to be just like the show in that they are both very amazing. Fourth, I have read the Twilight series and can say that, yes True Blood and Twilight are very different (True Blood covers issues that Twilight didn't dare come close to), but they are very good in their own way, plus you're comparing a novel that has grown in popularity (forming a fuck ugly movie) to a television show that is based off books you haven't even read.
    Fifth, no one mentions Anne Rice novels anymore, just like Bram Stoker's classic (which I found to be a complete work of shit, but that's just me). They too have their own take on the creatures that have haunted, loved, and amused stories for centuries.
    Sixth, other than cliffhangers at the end of each episode, how would you hold an audience over till an episode a week from then?
    And seventh, how is a southern accent supposed to sound? Do you think we all sound the exact same? Or have you just seen so many movies with people faking a southern accent thinking you are an expert linguist on the topic?

  • Z

    @Ashley: A better image? Have you seen any of the older movies or read the books? Vampire's have the same image as humans do, even if people don't care to think so.
    "Not backing down to the town’s sheriff vampire because of how old he was"? Do the Volturi ring any bells? Did they not hold power over the vampire's in the Cullen family as well as many others?

  • http://oneriot.com Jennifer

    America sure has a thing for Vampires these days. We used our search engine numbers to graph how Twilight and True Blood rate against each other. http://bit.ly/6jexD

  • Amy

    I'm watching the first episode of true blood rite now cause it only premiered in Ireland today, and I can honestly say its disturbing. I'm 13 and i seen shows with sex in them b4 and tb just ewww. I don't get the point of all the sex in it at all. The twilight saga has is completely different and better.
    Why all the nudity. And the cheesy fangs? Come on now.

    • Anastasia

      because TB is aimed for adults while Twilight is aimed for you babies. Leave the blood and sex to the adults, honey.

  • Nym

    The books that True Blood is based on are older than Twighlight. I enjoy both of them but Stephanie Meyer really irritates the hell out of me when she claimed that Twighlight came to her in a dream and is completely original. Why does she just admit that the central storyline is Dracula, slang terms such as 'bloodsuckers' comes from Lost Boys, the reading minds thing is stolen from Harris plus the love triangle with a werewolf, the child vampire problem is took from Anne Rice etc. etc. etc.
    There is not a single page in Twighlight that is 100% original. Even the lead character's name is a spin on Pirates of the Carribean.

    Now don't get me wrong, I do like the books as they are page turners even if not the best written while Harris' books don't really get good until about 3-4 chapters in when they start becoming page turners. BUT Meyer seriously needs to drop the original BS and in a dream rubbish. The detective element in Harris' books can also be found in Babara Hambly's 2 vampire books (esp. the second book which is more of a dracula love triangle thing happening again) but Hambly's books are far superior in writing than both Harris and Meyer.

  • Sam

    Twilight and TrueBlood are OK. Neither one is original, the idea of vampires in love with humans has never been that original, there are thousands of vampire books and movies like them and are all alike. I personally like Twilight, I'm 14 and TrueBlood to me is disturbing, it's like watching soft-core porn. Twilight is centered more on the romance and symbolism in it between Romeo Juliet and other romance stories. TrueBlood is for mature audiences and is targeted toward them (that's why there is allot of sex and nudity it), but still younger people will watch and read the book and TV show. Twilight is like a girl's diary but worse to boys, but intriguing and exciting for girls, TrueBlood can be enjoyed by both though.
    oh, and what's wrong with Twilight being written my a Mormon? One of my best friends is Mormon and the idea that they have a thousand wives is wrong, they are nice and respectful, so don't trash on them, Mormons be my friends >:-D

  • Paula

    I think True Blood is stupid. I gave it a chance despite my constant desire to change channels. The accents and acting are so cheesy it's hard to watch. I'm in my 30s so this is supposed to appeal to people in my age range, but it's just stupid!

    • Anastasia

      You're in your 30's? Hah! True blood is not cheesy and the accents are spot on. It's not stupid, either. To each his own I guess.

  • Megan

    Ok i'm 20, Twilight is great True Blood is great. Im a huge Twilight fan but yet i'm EXTREMELY annoyed with naive preteen twilighters saying how disgusting and trashy true blood is, and its actually making my like Twilight less becuase of you people. seriously shut up, just because your 12-16 and think sex is dirty doesn't mean you can call TrueBlood "trashy and weird"... if youre disgusted by sex chances are you're probably too young and immature to be watching it anyways. And the shows arent suposed to be the same! Why would anyone want to watch a show knockoff of Twilight? So fangs... not cheesy, most vampire stories have fangs, you cant make fun of them because twilight doesnt have them. All these comparisons are redic. Ill admit I was hesitant to watch true blood but after I did I fell in love with the characters and now its my favorite show, and ive started reading the books as well. Its made to be entertainment! funny, sexy, violent... just entertainment. Stop giving it god damn reviews like its up for some classic novel and take it for what it is. Oh and I hate this review... obviously. I dont agree with the acting being bad, and the story being horrible. I think its creative and has amazingly strong characters.

  • Sam

    @Megan:
    wow, im 14, excuse me for voicing my opinion, you dont have to be a bitch about it :P

  • Erin

    @chelliemo: I read the Twilight series a year ago, and re-read them recently. I too have noticed that there are similarities. But the thing is, the first book from the "TrueBlood" series was published in 2001. Twilight was published in 2005. And the tv show existed way before production for "Twilight" the film even started. I think Stephenie Meyer is a thieving bitch.

  • Anastasia

    I absolutely love True Blood!! Twilight is ok, but it's so cheesy and the acting is soooo bad. TB is sexy, bloody, funny, and violent and I like all that in a vampire movie. People who say Twilight is better need to realize that just because it's the " in thing" doesn't mean that it's better. True blood actually keeps me on edge, Twilight doesn't. The main character can stick up for herself unlike Bella who is dependent on Edward to always protect her and she is so unlikeable. Vampire's are supposed to have fangs, drink human blood, and burn in the sun; what do you expect? Stephanie Meyer ruined vampires by writing Twilight. The storyline in TB is better written than in the Twilight movies and Anna Paquin is an Oscar winner, Kristen Stewart isn't because of her bland acting.