Year Of The Vampire: True Blood Sucked The World Into The Love Of Vampires Again

(Welcome to Year of the Vampire, a series examining the greatest, strangest, and sometimes overlooked vampire movies of all time in honor of "Nosferatu," which turns 100 this year.)

Every generation has its vampire show. Our grandparents had "Dark Shadows," some of us older folks had "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and after that, we got "True Blood." This one was different, giving us vampires trying to live in the world with humans after a synthetic blood product ("Tru Blood") is developed. 

The long-running HBO series was based on the Southern Vampire Mystery novel series by Charlaine Harris, and there is actually a "True Blood" reboot in development. The series gifted us all with Alexander Skarsgård and Joe Manganiello, got us obsessed with the Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin)/Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer)/Eric Northman (Skarsgard) love triangle, and out of it came a real life marriage between Paquin and Moyer. I mean, what else can you really ask for from a vampire series?

What it brought to the genre

So many vampire shows have showed us the struggle of vampires to control their urges or have them kill "bad" people, drink blood from a blood bank, or eat rats or deer. Now, with a compelling reason not to do that, we get to look closely at the nature of vampires. The show examines what they really want. Is it the blood for the nutrients, or is it the kill and the hunt? Once they don't have to keep their lives a secret, what happens? Will they integrate into society or will their killer instinct win out?

We got a whole lot of fun and naked time in this series as well. The story was a bloody soap opera, adding in werewolves, witches, shape shifters, and fairies (one thing they did not translate well from the book to the small screen), but what we really saw was a look at human nature. Yes, I said human. Humans — fanged or not — have the same urges to hurt and to be mysterious and to manipulate, but the vampires have actually been indulging their darker sides, sometimes for decades, sometimes for centuries, sometimes for millenia. Human nature and the desire to hurt are there whether we like it or not, and once that bag of worms is opened, how do you put it back inside? 

Sometimes what is supposed to give us more freedom actually end up giving you more rules and more to worry about than ever. I know this wasn't the intention — at least I think it wasn't — but it feels like a metaphor for the Internet. There are all these tools on the Internet to make life easier for us, and sometimes it does, but the problems that come with it are so big that it's often more of a hindrance.

A juicy tale with a message

I know the first thing fans talk about is how this is a metaphor for the struggle for civil rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, and what it's like to be targeted by people who look at you as different. That is a huge part of it, but also, it's hard for me to completely get on board with that. The show still paints vampires with a violent and dark brush for the most part, as much as we're drawn to them. That makes them seem like the dark side of humanity, and still sort of "others" them. I think in terms of discrimination, the show really hits the message home, not with the othering, but by having humans use vampire blood as a drug. Humans take what they need from the vampires so they can enjoy it, and turn away from and denigrate the rest of their nature and culture. I think that plotline says more about human nature than anything else. 

In addition to the messages though, we love "True Blood" for the juiciness of the stories. Which of the two hot men will Sookie end up with? What about that third hot man who is also a dog? Or the fourth that is a werewolf? Who will rule the vampires of a district? How will that affect the human government? Is everyone supernatural? How has Merlotte's bar not been shut down yet with all the crazy things that happen there? What happens to your psyche when you're largely invincible, but have had to hide for so many years? 

Might I suggest that, in addition to a rewatch, which you really should do, maybe read the books as well. Or listen to them. It's worth your time and it's a lot of fun to see how they diverge from the show. 

To those doing the reboot, I would also humbly suggest that you fix the whole fairy thing. Do it for Sookie.