T is for True Blood

Remembered by Kerry E.B. Black

When I heard Alan Ball planned to adapt Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. I wondered how on earth it would happen. So much of Ms. Harris’ books is internal, with the story told from the main character Sookie Stackhouse’s perspective, and Sookie had a lot of sexual relations.

They did, indeed, produce a stylish HBO series, “True Blood.”

Anna Paquin played the lead, the plucky, hard-working Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie works as a waitress at Merlotte’s, a small bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie was a telepath, and knowing the innermost thoughts of everyone she met made getting close to people difficult.

However, when Bill Compton entered the bar, she found a comforting silence from his mind. Bill was a vampire, one of the many who came “out of the coffin” when Japanese scientists synthesized a blood called True Blood or Life Flow. This product allowed vampires to exist in mainstreamed society. They could stake claims to citizenship, inheritance, and civil rights. Bill’s existence changed in the 1860’s when he encountered his “maker” or vampire surrogate.

Fascinated by Vampire Bill, Sookie began a journey into the world of supernatural creatures. Not only were vampires a part of society. Werewolves, fairies, shifters, and a Maenad inhabit Sookie’s world, as do a church filled with hateful bigots and other murderous sorts. Sookie’s gifts, unshakable loyalty, strong personality, and surprising heritage helped many of the characters she encountered.

The series changed much of the storyline from Charlaine Harris’ books, but it kept the escapist feel. The most notable difference was the Point of View. In the literary series, the story is told from Sookie’s perspective. This was not always the case in the television series. Several of the characters’ story arcs changed in the series as well. Writers developed a deeper storyline for Sookie’s friend, Tara. It changed vampire lore; for example, an invitation to a house could be rescinded and silver scarred and harmed vampires.

The series assumed names for its episodes from songs it then played over the ending credits.

Couched within salacious episodes were poignant examinations of equal rights, integrated marriage, violence against homosexuals, drug addiction, media influences, zealotry, and the importance of family. “True Blood” won a Golden Globe and an Emmy and garnered many other nominations.