Back in April of 2010 I wrote a review of how badass the first season of True Blood was. And it was good. Really good. With all the blood, tits, and foul language it was easily the television highlight of the year. Since that time I watched season two and season three, although the latter was difficult due to the loud-talkers in the room. Now, season four is currently airing, and I regret to say that compared to the highs of the first season, the fourth season is a sack of shit. So where did they go wrong?
The reason that the first season worked so well (besides the sex and violence) was that the story was simple and straightforward. It centered on the relationship between Sookie and Bill, and the other characters were more or less peripheral. Eric, Jason, Lafayette, etc were all involved to some extent, but they played smaller roles in the central storyline. Really, though, there was just one story, told from Sookie’s perspective, and it worked.
Season two was a little more divided as it had two main stories: one involving Sookie, Bill, Jason, and Eric; and the other involving everybody else. Storyline A with Sookie and the vampires was interesting and held my attention. Storyline B was a non-stop sex orgy which at first seemed awesome, but when it dragged on for 12 episodes with nothing else happening, it started to wear on me. The secondary characters were fleshed out a bit more, which seemed fine. Overall, Storyline A worked really well and Storyline B not as much. But it was still a good season.
Moving on to Season Three, things became problematic. There was still the main storyline with Sookie, Bill, Eric, and vampire king Russell. Simultaneously, they introduced a number of stories involving a shitload of secondary characters. Almost everyone had their own storyline. Sheriff Andy had one, Jason and Crystal had one, Arlene had one, Sam had one, Hoyt and Jessica had one, Lafayette had one, and Tara had one. It was too much. Tara annoys the fuck out of me, and since she cries her eyes out in every scene, I could hardly stomach her own subplot. Arlene is annoying too, and she is not interesting enough to deserve her own plotline. Sam’s family was stupid. Hoyt and Jessica were idiotic. Jason continued to be a dumbass. While the main storyline with Sookie was strong enough to carry the season, the quality of the series was dragged down with all the other unimportant crap that was going on.
Which brings us to the current season, number four. Gone are the days when Sookie was the main character. True Blood has now become an ensemble show. Every character is given almost equal amounts of screen time whether it’s heroine Sookie, or shrill, annoying Arlene.
We have storylines featuring Sookie and her faerie godmother, Eric losing his memory, Bill becoming vampire king of Louisiana, Sheriff Andy as a drug addict, Jason as “ghost daddy” getting raped non-stop by werepanthers (LOL WTF), Tara suddenly becoming a lesbian, Lafayette as a witch, Lafayette’s boyfriend Jesus as a witch, Jesus’ grandfather as a witch, Lafayette and Jesus joining a witches’ coven (I’m detecting a pattern), Arlene’s baby has evil devil powers, Sam is in love with some shapeshifter lady, Tommy becomes Hoyt’s mom’s surrogate son, Tommy plans to rip-off his surrogate mom, Tommy kills his biological parents, Hoyt and Jessica continue their turbulent relationship, Pam gets her face melted off and wants revenge, and Alcide gets into trouble with a new local werewolf pack leader. And that’s by the end of episode five, not even halfway through the season.
Get the picture? There is way too much shit happening. Nobody cares about Lafayette, Jesus, Tara, Hoyt, Jessica, Tommy, Arlene, Sam, or Andy. There is absolutely no need to dedicate equal screen time to each of them. Really, the only people they should focus on are Sookie, Eric, and Bill, and to a lesser extent Jason and Alcide. Those are the only characters that should be get storylines. Characters like Sam, Pam, or Andy can make appearances, but should only show up occasionally, have a few lines, and then be on their way.
The first season worked so well because it was simple and had purpose. It dealt with Sookie’s introduction to the world of vampires, and her relationship with said vampires. The second season was still decent because it only had two storylines, and not a lot of other nonsense to clutter it up. The third season had too much extraneous nonsense, and it got bogged down by the excess weight. The fourth season is a schizophrenic clusterfuck with so much shit going on it has become bloated and messy.
But all is not lost. There is a way to salvage True Blood. So, HBO executives, if you are reading this, take careful notes.
- Kill Tara.
- Kill Lafayette.
- Kill Jesus.
- Kill Tommy.
- Kill Hoyt.
- Kill Jessica.
- Kill Sam.
- Kill Arlene.
- Kill Andy.
- Kill Crystal.
- Kill Terry.
- Kill Debbie.
- Kill anyone who started out as a secondary character.
- Keep Pam alive, she’s cool.
- Bring Franklin back to life, he was a crazy motherfucker.
That’s pretty much it. If they go ahead and wipe out all those people in a giant vampire massacre, the show could be saved.
True Blood doesn’t need a shitload of characters to be good. The book series it is based on has fewer characters than the show, and it is told in the first-person, from Sookie’s perspective. Naturally, being first-person, you are only aware of what is happening to Sookie, and 90% of the books are all about Sookie. The mess of multiple, concurrent storylines isn’t there. Not surprisingly, the book series was a hit prior to True Blood, and it didn’t have to rely on subplots involving evil devil babies and gay witches.
There is no good reason why every character needs to have their own storyline. Perhaps the popularity of the show has given all the actors bloated egos and a trumped-up sense of self-importance so high that they feel the need to be included more often? Yeah, that’s probably it. At any rate, True Blood is dying a slow death. I suspect this won’t be remedied by the end of season four, and will likely continue on to season five. Eventually the weight of all this shit will cause the show to collapse, create an even more convoluted mess than we have now, and bring the series to cancellation. It could still be saved, but if it keeps on its current trajectory, more likely than not, it will end up in the shitpile with the rest of the crap that’s on TV.
Season Two – Good
Season Three – Average
Season Four – Eh…
Bonus: True Blood Drinking Game
Drink every time:
- Bill says “Sookie” in his weird husky voice.
- Sookie uses her magical powers.
- Sookie gets mad at someone.
- Jason is shirtless.
- There is graphic sex.
- There is graphic violence.
- A vampire drinks human blood.
- A human drinks vampire blood.
- Pam says something sarcastic.
- Eric acts menacing.
- Tara cries.
- Tara overreacts.
- Sam shape-shifts.
- Alcide turns into a wolf.
- Andy gets annoyed with someone/something.
- A vampire glamours someone.
- Lafayette calls someone “bitch”, “hooker”, or “motherfucker.”
- Someone says, “The True Death.”
- Arlene is the only employee working at Merlotte’s.
- There is a dream sequence.
- The episode ends on a cliffhanger.