‘True Blood’: A Bit Too Real [Spoilers]

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HBO’s hit series, True Blood, is currently in its seventh and final season. However, it is not really playing that way. During last night’s Fire in the Hole, the audience was introduced to new factors of a story that lengthen a tale that is fast approaching its final climax. Taking over from creator Alan Ball, new show runner Brian Buckner is already dealing with complaints from viewers that the latter episodes of the entire run are of lower quality than the earlier seasons. With that being said, one part of last night’s story has picked at a scab that True Blood has often teased without outright ripping off. It is not a new move, but it is definitely a risky one due to being a bit too realistic.

Truthfully, the existence of vampires on True Blood has always played on the LGBTQ culture and lifestyle. The similarities between the two are almost endless. The X-Men movies have been guilty of the same aspect, but the “undead community” of the fictional city of Bon Temps trumps that by a million. True Blood has had quite a few LGBTQ characters from time to time (some alive, some not), but the story line of the “Hep V” virus has really pushed the degree to new heights and for a show that is such a guilty pleasure for many, there is no pleasure being felt by watching it play out.

At the end of last week’s episode, viewers learned that Eric Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgård, had somehow survived his sunbathing experience, but was not so lucky to staying immune from a disease that is only lethal to vampires. By all accounts, Eric has always carried his “vampirism” on his sleeve. He enjoys everything about the power he has and he revels in it without apology. During Fire in the Hole, we see a much different Eric; one that has taken a defeatist attitude and awaits the death that is coming his way.

His progeny, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), begs him to not give up on life so easily, but still, she must ask him some tough questions first.

“Did you contract the virus on purpose?”

Eric assures her that he did not. “Did I go about my dealings with a “devil may care” attitude,” he questions back. “Absolutely.”

She sits down next to the sickly Northman; a shadow of his once boastful self.

“You can’t give up, Eric,” she says tearfully. “With an ample supply of fresh blood, vampires are living longer with this disease.”

Obviously, the introduction of the “Hep V” virus is meant to be taken as the True Blood version of HIV / AIDS, especially in the early years of the epidemic. The representation and similarities are uncanny and admittedly, a little scary — and not in the way the show should be. It feels a bit too realistic to those who have actually lived through those dark times or are living through them now. The thing is that people already understand this. Although HIV / AIDS is not just a “gay disease,” True Blood, through their past connections, is playing through what is considered a very sad stereotype. Just like the disease it is based on, there are humans in Bon Temps who do carry the “Hep V” virus. However, the vampires are always pushed forth as the only ones who suffer from it; the “normal” ones are somewhat seen as being immune.

It is admirable that this show is trying to break that wall. However, True Blood was never meant to be that sort of show. It has true bloodadmittedly been many things. Sometimes a fantasy – a fairy-human hybrid in a love quadrangle between two vampires and a werewolf, for starters – sometimes, a mystery – the entire first season of wondering who the vampire hating killer was — and admittedly, sometimes a view into our actual world — equal rights for all, human and “others” alike. However, does this push of too much “realness” take away from what should be enjoyed as the end to a sometimes odd, but ultimately enjoyable series?

On top of that, with only seven more episodes to go, the show has now brought forward even more questions that do not have a lot of time to get answered.

  • Eric was so much in love with a woman named Sophie in the 1980’s and yet, this is the first time anyone on True Blood has brought her up?
  • When Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) was confronted by Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck), a member of the all-empowering Vampire Authority, back in the 1980’s, nothing was mentioned about the corporation that created ‘TruBlood’ – the name of the synthetic bottled blood that vampires are supposed to drink for survival – having so much influence and / or power over the vampire community. Why is this suddenly a factor now and not during seasons five and six, when all ‘TruBlood’ factories were being destroyed?
  • There’s still no explanation as to why Tara (Rutina Wesley) had to be killed off minutes into season six, although it was officially noted that she had indeed met the True Death – when a vampire is ultimately killed — last night. However, that just makes it all the more irritating that it was done in such a way. Tara was introduced in the very first episode of the show and has been involved in the lives of many characters throughout the show’s run; she deserved a better send-off.
  • Speaking of send-offs, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) had to get killed off in a way that leaves him with no real closure or no full progress of his character. Considering that he had no connection other than to main character Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), his loss was important, but his death allows the series to move on a little too easily. Even Manganiello, who gave interviews following the demise of the character, seemed to be quite offended by this.
  • Fans pointed out that Alcide’s death, along with the possibility of Eric’s, leaves the door open to reunite Sookie with her first love, Bill. Fans of another recently concluded show, How I Met Your Mother, might be able to best explain why this scenario would cause a problem, especially for those who had long tired of that particular relationship.

No one really knows how it will all end for True Blood and there is always a chance that things can turn around. Once upon a time, the show was paramount at bringing in a shock factor with its audience and every once in a while, it still does it in the best way. The return of the Christian vampire hater, Sarah Newlin (played by actress Anna Camp); in last night’s episode was definitely one of the best reveals in a while. However, one of the biggest things a show like True Blood can do in the final stretch is get back to being a guilty pleasure. Bringing too much harsh reality into the fantasy never bodes well for anyone.

Opinion by Jonathan Brown

Entertainment Weekly

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