TRUEBLOOD true fun for the politically inclined, particularly LGBT politically inclined. Too bad the 7-season series doesn't pull its weight entirely. I didn't throw in the towel because the political satire and main charac-ters earn their keep.
Turns out it was creator Alan Ball (shown below, of Six Feet Under and American Beauty) who attracted Academy Award winner Anna Paquin and her British co-star Stephen Moyer to vampire fare based on the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery novels by Charlaine Harris. Moyer and Paquin met and fell in love
But at times the series provides a belly-laugh funny parallel universe to U.S. political and social goings-on as the characters hurtle through over-the-top politically and socially relevant situations flung at them in the fictional red-neck town of Bon Temps, Louisiana (and environs). Through its supernaturals ('supes'), the series takes on discrimination, civil rights and child abuse, evangelical extremism, tyranny, political corruption, big business, drug addiction, PTSD, AIDS, and family relations.
Christopher Meloni (a much more charismatic role than Meloni's Law and Order character), represents the progressive vampire wing. These mainstreamers aim to co-exist with humans and contain the Sanguinistas, the charismatic evangelical wing. Horrifically, the Sanguinistas win control over the vampire hierarchy in season 5, launching a ruthless regime that puts one not a little in terror of supremacy by the demogogues in our own political/evangelical right wing. (Hey folks, do vote on November 4 to save the Democratic Senate majority.)
Michael MacMillan) and his flirty, narcissistic blond wife Sarah (Anna Camp, above). The church marquee, 'God Hates Fangs' reprises the real Westboro Baptist church -- 'God hates fags'. The Newlins take their playbook from our abortion-and gay-hating racist and militaristic gun cults; they protest vampires in public and train in secret to murder them. Unfortunately the vamps on parade around town are flagrant taunts -- picture the flamboyant gay/transvestite culture of the AIDS era and the gay-bashing and murders that still occur. Soldiers of God seeks to kill decent vampires like Bill and others like Sookie who consort with vampires. Sarah seduces Sookie's brother Jason Stackhouse murmuring: 'God tells her to', as she tears his clothes off. Her preacher husband Steve turns up later as a proud gay vampire who is also hot for Jason, and well-suited to his new job as the public relations face of the new Sanguinista regime.
Sam Trammell (above). FANGTASIA is the local vampire hangout. (Vampire motto: "We suck like everybody else".) The club is owned by handsome main character Eric Northman, a Norseman turned vampire 1000 years ago to save his life following mortal wounding on a battlefield in Britannia, played with ruthless calculation and seductive insoucience by Alexander Skarsgard (below).
Allan Hyde) is too fascinating to be relegated to on line background material. Godric, born First Century, BC in Gaul and tortured by Roman soldiers, deserved more screen time to flesh out his evolution from violence to peace maker/savior. Meanwhile he's taught Eric to be ruthless, and now Eric could care less about appearances. Hence Fangtasia is a hopping joint with a dungeon managed by Pam, Eric's vampire offspring who was his former lover (an elegant prostitute/madam, she convinced Eric in 1902 San Francisco to turn her, thus halting her aging out of her profession). Eric persistently and deviously inserts himself between Sookie and Bill and eventually wins over Sookie for a time.
Rutina Wesley is Tara, (above, left) whose comic talent rivals comedian Wanda Sykes, and Nelsan Ellis (above, right) is Lafayette, a vampy queer played with such nuance and charisma that actor Ellis must be gay -- but isn't. Ball errs in gradually easing Tara and her gifted wit out of later seasons leaving a hole as big as that left by Joan Rivers -- gone too soon. (Both Wesley and Ellis deserve brilliant acting careers.) Lafayette is a busy entrepreneur -- his job as Merlotte's short-order cook leaves him time to run a gay porn site, service the sexual needs of the gay mucky-mucks in Louisiana-politics, and deal black-market drugs featuring V -- vampire blood -- the highly addictive, illegal drug of choice on which the Bon Temps police chief, among others, is hooked.
Alfre Woodard plays Lafayette's schizohrenic mother, Evan Rachel Wood is a Vampire Queen, Lucy Griffiths (Maid Marion in BBC's 2006 Robin Hood series) plays Nora, who become's Eric's vampire sister when Godric turns her to stave off death. (Nora got infected by the plague while caring for victims in the 1600's.) Rutger Hauer appears too briefly as Sookie and Jason's Fairie grandpa. Currently enhancing his ripped-ness for upcoming 'Magic Mike 2', hunk Joe Manganiello (above, right) plays werewolf Alcide and brief love interest for Sookie with little charisma, although his build (and rumored affair with Sofia Vergara) speaks for itself. Renowned stage actress Fiona Shaw commands season 4 as a Wiccan possessed by a healer burned at the stake in the 1400's. No wonder her name appears almost nowhere in the credits, as a story line that could have sizzled with the politics of witch burning and woman shaming, or more currently, big pharma vs natural healing, fizzled into nonsense.
James Frain as a manic, psychopathic vampire who kidnaps, chains, and obsesses hysterically over Tara, desperate to turn her so they can live in perpetuity. (I'd only seen Frain in sober British fare such as the 'Tudors' and 'The White Queen' -- he is wildly exciting with so much craziness to chew on.) Arliss Howard plays Louisiana Governor, Truman Burrell, whose vampire-obsessed regime is Nazi-esque, including 'vamp camps' where vampires are studied, psychoanalyzed, experimented on and eventually poisoned by the contrived adulteration of Tru Blood with Hep V, (evoking the AIDS epidemic).
HBO and in several forms at Amazon.