Ah, True Blood, How Tricky You Are


So here’s the first thing I really have to say about True Blood.  Alan Ball is a genius at keeping me around.  Because every episode, at some point, I think I can give up the show (this would generally be a part featuring Tara) and yet every cliff hanger-y ending has me going “AH!” and then “crap. I guess I’ll be tuning in next week.”

*slow clap*  Well played Mr. Ball, well played.

So since I’m watching the show (sometimes against my will) I decided it was high time to do an actual review, especially since True Blood searches (er, I mean Anna Paquin naked boob searches) have sent my blog hits into the stratosphere more than a few times this past spring.  So here it is.  A True Blood Review.

The Good:  This show is surprisingly good at turning me around on some things.  At first I was not a Bill fan, I wasn’t feeling all swoon-y and I didn’t really get the appeal.  But by episode three or four I was in love and couldn’t blame Sookie a bit.  There’s always something about the good guy that gets me, and Stephen Moyer’s Bill, despite his vampiric ways, is defiintely a bonefide good guy.

I like Anna Paquin.  I would watch Anna Paquin watch paint dry and probably be mightily entertained.  I think she’s lovely and a talented actress.  I don’t love the accent, but it’s better than a few others on the show and so I’m just deciding to accpet those accents as they are and be okay with it.  The Sookie character is a bit annoying and preachy, but I don’t think that’s Paquin’s fault.  I hope they’ll ease up on Sookie’s holier than thou attitude as it seems a little bratty and unlike the way she was originally portrayed.

true blood season 2

Jessica.  Oh Jessica, how you turned me around.  At the end of Season 1 there was no plot I was dreading more (except anything involving Tara) than seeing more of the whiny Jessica.  But she’s the absolute best thing Season 2 has going for it.  It’s wonderful to see a new vampire go through the trials and tribulations of being a vampire and also being a teenager.  I don’t know if it’s the writing or Deborah Ann Woll’s acting or a combination, but whatever it is I hope they keep it up.  What an amazing turnaround.



Lafayette.  Nobody was happier to see Lafayette not be the dead body in the car at the end of Season 1 than me.  Of course he was chained up in a basement and the other characters didn’t seem overly concerned about finding him, which seems odd in a place where people show up in cars with their hearts missing, but whatever.  At least he’s alive.  And now that he’s linked to Eric I suspect all sorts of great stuff is in store for us.  Nelsan Ellis’ Lafayette is routinely the only actor/character that doesn’t let me down at some point or another.  His performances are always dead on.

Sam Merlotte.  Like Sookie I find Sam Tramwell’s Sam a bit whiny and brooding for my taste, but he’s a great character and I hope we’ll get to explore less of the brooding and more of the reality of Sam this year.

Michelle Forbes’ Maryann is a welcome addition this year and her arc is supremely interesting, except where it intersects with Tara, which unfortunately is constantly.  Adam and I were sure she was going to be some Circe type character, but this last episode has her looking more like a Minotaur, which is even better if you ask me.

Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric was one of the most interesting characters on the show last year, but now that he’s cut his hair he’s still one of the most interesting and also one of the hottest.  It’s also of note that his partner in crime – Pam (played excellently by Kristin Bauer) steals almost every scene she’s in.

Jason Stackhouse.  I started out hating the Jason character – always so over the top, and of course so unbelievably stupid, but with time I’ve come to appreciate him and Ryan Kwanten’s performance has grown considerably I think.  He’s always going to be a stupid and over the top character I suspect, but deep down I think the boy has a good heart and will make the right choices, so I have faith in hanging in there with the character.

It’s worth noting that Chris Bauer, Todd Lowe, and Jim Parrack are also doing stellar work in smaller roles, that will hopefully grow with time.

Alan Ball, Charlaine Harris (the original author of the books) and a handful of other talented writers and directors that are bringing us perfectly cut and sharply written episodes.  There are high points and low points in each episode, but overall the show is unbelievably strong – especially for a show only a year and a half old.  Nice work creators.

The Bad: Tara, Sookie’s best friend, played terribly by Rutina Wesley.  She is absolutely unwatchable.  And because the performance is so bad I can’t tell if the character is also bad…or if it’s just Wesley.  Regardless, she is the most brutal part of True Blood and it drives me crazy.  How hard is it to a do a great black female character on a show of this caliber?  It seems like it should be easy…why is this one character (and the arcs she is given) so cliche and terrible?  The worst part is that Tara/Wesley seem to infect every other character they touch.


I absolutely hated the arc with Tara’s mother last year, and was chalking that up to a bad character and bad acting by Adina Porter, but in the last episode Porter had a heart wrenching little scene with Trammell (Sam) that made me think the hatred I had for Porter last year had more to do with the storyline and proximity to Wesley than anything else.

It’s quite a problem though.  The scenes with Tara and her new “boyfriend” are equally as trite and unwatchable as Tara’s scenes with her mother.  If the plot didn’t link up so well (i.e. there is likely something critical in every scene) I would be fast forwarding through them.  I just don’t understand it.  With a show that is working on so many levels – and can obviously write black characters well (Lafayette is consistently one of the best) what is happening here with Tara?  Honestly?  I feel totally ripped off.  Because without that stumbling block the show would be just…awesome.  But this issue drags it well below the awesome line.

The Ugly: See above, not that Tara/Wesley is ugly, but the situation sure is.

3.5 Stars. And without the Tara issue, I’d be considering it as probably 4.5 stars.


  1. TK42ONE’s avatar

    I managed to watch one episode while on vacation and was mildly entertained. Considering it was in the middle of a story arc that was completely foreign to me, that’s pretty good. I doubt it will be as fun to watch as Deadwood or Band of Brothers, but HBO seems to be the place to go to for good shows. Especially with Game of Thrones on the horizon.

    I don’t even know which episode I saw, but it was the one where Sookie gets clawed by some beastie thing after she has a tiff with her vampire guy. Sookie was ok when it came to acting, but I loved the vampire guy. Totally entranced by his accent.

  2. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    TK42ONE: HBO is definitely where it’s at for original programming. The subscription is pretty much worth its weight in gold considering I watch True Blood, Big Love, Flight of the Concords, Hung, and gods know what else they’ll throw my way…and other than 30 Rock and The Office that’s basically all I watch (well, religiously anyway).

    That beastie is pretty badass right? That scene came out of nowhere and was awesome :)

    You should definitely netflix it when you get the chance.

  3. k’s avatar

    i feel the exact same way…well put

  4. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    k: thanks! the Tara thing frustrates the hell out of me. :(

  5. Majik1987’s avatar

    Lmao! I said that same thing about Tara to some of my Theatre friends and we can’t figure out what it is. We are all black thespians, but for the life of us we have not been able to articulate one feasible reason that she is so awful to watch. I’m not sure if it’s her acting. Her accent (also terrible), her storyline, or the writing that she is forced to recite in such a mundane manner. Whatever it is, I lowkey hope they kill the character off and start anew with a fresh faced black female actress with a better accent and a stronger, more compelling reason to exist beyond my mother was abusive and we believe in voodoo. Smh. Still, True Blood manages to be amazing. Despite the Tara issue.

  6. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    Majik1987: I actually think – and I don’t want to jinx us here – but she’s seemed a little better in the last couple episodes – I think it’s more to do with her being given a better/more active storyline. There seems to be less melodrama – and more actual plot to what she’s doing…and as a result it all seems to be working better. I’m hopeful. She’ll never be as badass as Lafayette though – I just can’t get enough of that dude. He stands out every episode as my favorite character (and favorite performance).

  7. T’s avatar

    Tara is an unlikable character and Rutina plays her poorly. It really just bugs me to watch her staring at the camera, bug-eyed in disbelief with her lower lip quivering. These are her acting chops. What is so irritating about it is that we find ourselves seeing this same performance of fear/disbelief/deer-in-the-headlights over and over in Season 1. I dont know if the writers wrote “Tara is paralyzed with fear” one too many times, or if Rutina is simply a one-trick pony.

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