Posts filed under 'True Blood'

True Blood: Gays = Vampires?

Here's a picture of Ryan Kwanten without a shirt.

Here's a picture of Ryan Kwanten without a shirt.

Since its premiere, there’s been a lot of speculation as to whether or not the series is an elaborate allegory about gay rights.

Charlaine Harris, who write the Sookie Stackhouse books, says she intended the story to play out that way. Meanwhile, Alan Ball dismisses the idea. There’s an interesting

The New York Post writes:

Author Charlaine Harris — who wrote the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse mystery novels that the TV show is based on — hoped fans would pick up on the link between vampire rights and gay rights when she published the first book in 2001.

“When I began framing how I was going to represent the vampires, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be interesting if they were a minority that was trying to get equal rights,” Harris says.

“It just seemed to fit with what was happening in the world right then.”

But, the creator of the TV series, Alan Ball, doesn’t see it the same way. “To look at these vampires on the show as metaphors for gays and lesbians is so simple and so easy, that it’s kind of lazy,” Ball told a group of reporters in early June.

“If you get really serious about it, well, then the show could be seen to be very homophobic because vampires are dangerous: They kill, they’re amoral.”

True, Alan — it would be really easy to make that comparison. And, admittedly, there definitely isn’t a one-to-one relationship between the vamps and the gays.

But at the same time, come on. You’ve got an evangelical uprising against this population. You’ve got a “God Hates Fangs” sign in the opening credits.  You used the phrase “to come out of the coffin.” You have to admit, that you’re at least inviting a few comparisons.  If you really wanted to avoid it, you could have tried a bit harder to disguise it.

2 comments June 23rd, 2009

The Best of Everything: John’s list for 2008

Best Dramas: Damages, True Blood, Mad Men, Terminator

Anything I could say about the first three shows has been said a million times before by every critic. They’re just good TV. As for Terminator, come on kids give it a chance! Shirley Manson as urinal-bot mom, awkward terminator humor (see Marissa’s #4), trips to Mexico for burritos… how can you go wrong?

Best International Reality Show: Project Runway Australia

I think the contestants in this version may have out polite-d the Canadian version. The show is very similar to the first season of the American version except the Tim Gunn guy looks like the old dude from the Six Flags commercials. The contestants are all loveable, and are even nice enough to pretend they’re interested in meeting Kelly Rowland. Sadly, Kristy Hinze as host is not as funny/scary as Iman but is comparable to Heidi Klum.

Best Unaired Commercial: AFSCME
My favorite Youtube discovery of ’08, audio NSFW.

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Best Shows To Catch Up On Your iPod

Dead Set – Also on Dan’s list, it’s just fun filler and more like a zombie movie broken up into 5 parts than an actual TV show.

Breaking Bad – It’s the dad from Malcolm in the Middle as a high school chemistry teacher who brews meth and uses Mr. Wizard-esque science against drug dealers. Bryan Cranston looks and acts identical to my high school chem teacher, right down to the moustache. No wonder he won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama.

Summer Heights High – Comedian Chris Lilley plays an obnoxious rich girl, an overdramatic drama teacher, and a Polynesian break dancer who all attend the same high school. The series ends with a Hamlet 2 style musical denouncing drugs and sluttiness and lauding the drama teacher for his work keeping kids clean. The show also contains an unusually large amount of penis graffiti (always a win in my book).

The Funniest 7 Minutes of a Music Themed Episode: Haven’t you heard?

What can I say, I’m an idiot who loves juvenile stuff. Here’s 7 minutes of The Bird Is The Word jokes (ignore the rest of the episode since it’s crap).

January 9th, 2009

The best of everything: Dan’s list for 2008

The new year is upon us. And now we’ve got the hangovers and gym memberships and debt-free living self-help books to prove it. But at TiFaux, we’ve got our priorities in line.

Television first.

On that note, all this week we are going to look back at 2008 and examine the best of the year that was. And, in a cute little twist, we’re not doing our top five shows — we’re doing our top five anythings. This can be an entire year’s worth of one show, one actor’s performance, one funny joke, etc.  We’re mixing it up so we don’t end up all saying that 30 Rock is amazing in different wordings.

I’m up first because I’m a control freak. So, here we go…

Glenn Close and Zeljko Ivanek win Emmys for Damages

damagesThis was a series whose first season ended in 2007, but I only watched it in 2008 — that’s why I’m including it on this list. It’s my blog so I can do what I want. But I will try to make it timely by saying that Close and Ivanek won well-deserved Emmys this year. Which is true.

It’s easy to single out the performances as the greatest thing about Damages’ first season — but I think that would be inaccurate. The great thing about Damages was not only the taut pacing and menacing tone, but just how uncommonly focused the storytelling was. This was essentially a season-long movie, intricately written and planned, and slowly rolled out bit by riveting bit.

Damages’ success is the result of several elements synergizing — the strength of the performances (Close’s venom, Rose Byrne’s sweet deadpan, Zeljko Ivanek’s anguished expressions), savvy directing and writing that packs both an intellectual and emotional punch. I have no idea what they’re going to do for the second season (starting Wednesday!!), but I’m totally on board.

SNL: Virgania Horsen’s Hot Air Balloon Rides

This was really a great year for women on SNL. Admittedly, there weren’t that many of them (a freakishly low number, in fact), but all of them emerged as stars. Amy Poehler came into her own as a playful and goofy sprite (see the Sarah Palin rap),Tina Fey re-emerged in her well-publicized star turn as the would-be veep and Kristen Wiig began to cement her status as the show’s rising star.

And my favorite thing Wiig has ever done remains this fake commercial from the (fabulous) Fey-hosted episode that was the first one following the strike. Virgania Horsen (who returned with a Pony Express commercial this season) is a mix of bizarre and oddly loveable, selling her hot air balloon rides with all the enthusiasm of an awkward fifth grader trying to give a rousing book report.

It’s all about delivery in this sketch (with some support from delightfully shoddy special effects), and Wiig nails it with the awful posture and stilted delivery.

The set design on Pushing Daisies

daisiesThere’s a lot to love on Pushing Daisies — the tart dialogue, the adorableness of Kristin Chenowith and Lee Pace, and the fun storylines. But what ties everything together is the show’s wonderful technicolor aesthetic. The colors are bright and the sets aren’t restricted by realism. There’s so much packed into every shot — it’s truly a case of “more is more.” The look of the show (including the costuming) makes everything work — instantly allowing you to suspend your disbelief.

New horror series: Dead Set and True Blood

The two best series of 2008 (for my money) both had their flaws. Dead Set was a mini-series that didn’t even air on American TV (and I probably didn’t understand half the pop culture references). And True Blood revealed itself to be the slightly slow, sex-obsessed cousin of Six Feet Under.

But these two horror-inspired shows (zombies and vampires, respectively) were the best new series to emerge out of 2008 — a vast wasteland as far as new programming goes. Dead Set had a run of five episodes, but I’ll continue to watch True Blood for its campy sense of humor and the creepy mysteries of this alternate reality world (even though they killed off the only guy who had a good accent).

Lecherously watching men’s water polo during the Olympics

I mean, come on.

January 5th, 2009

True Blood: I don’t think vampires sweat, so they never have that shiny Southern glisten

Perhaps it’s because I just got back from a movie about Swedish vampires, but now seems to be the right time to discuss the season thus far of True Blood.

When I last discussed True Blood, it was mainly to express my misgivings about the leaked series premiere. The show, for the uninitiated, deals with the emergence of a new “minority” — the vampire community, who have recently “come out of the coffin.” The action takes place in Louisiana, where sassy waitress Sookie Stackhouse (she also reads minds — fyi) falls in love with a dark, handsome vampire anticlimactically named Bill. She’s got an unpleasantly sassy best friend, a boss who’s in love with her, a sexy/stupid brother and a doting grandmother. And there’s also a murderer on the loose, but that fact normally takes a backseat to the fact that Sookie and Bill are having lots of hot and gruesome sex all the time.

Mostly, as I admitted, my ambivalence about the pilot was a product of my inflated expectations about Alan Ball’s next project. But now that I’ve adjusted my mindset a little, I can say with some certainly that True Blood is “reasonably entertaining.”

That’s my glowing endorsement.

What you kind of have to keep in mind is that this is basically a supernatural soap opera — not a serialized drama (there’s a difference). It’s dramatic, it’s campy and both hyper-sexual and hyper-violent. If you don’t like watching two people do the dirty-dirty while tripping on vampire blood and then follow it with a vampire vomiting blood on a woman until he disintegrates into a pile of goo, then this isn’t something you’d be interested in.

One of the things that works in True Blood’s favor — and is one thing that appears to have carried over from Alan Ball’s experience on Six Feet Under — is the show’s knack for pacing. Like SFU, True Blood is always juggling multiple plotlines, not resolving one conflict without starting (at least) one other.

Anna Paquin is strangely magnetic as Sookie, possessing a gap-toothed charm, while the rest of the cast is uniformely strong. One improvement the people behind True Blood have made on the pilot was recasting the role of Tara — Sookie’s pain-in-the-ass best friend. The previous actress (Brooke Kerr) played Tara as irredeemably angry, while Rutina Wesley gives her a bit more nuance — a cranky brat, but whose wide eyes prove she’s not wholly soulless.

I can’t say that True Blood will be a show to last the ages (although it’s already been renewed), but it’s easily the best new show of the season.

2 comments November 10th, 2008

True Blood dating: Cute. Real cute, HBO.

I’ve got to hand it to the folks in HBO’s marketing division — they’ve come up with a bit of a winner in terms of viral marketing for the upcoming True Blood series.

Take a look at the spoof below.

Now, go to the Web site: It’s a real life, functioning dating site for humans and vampires, custom-made for the dating needs of the undead.

It’s especially nice that the site meets the needs of the much-marginalized homosexual vampire community by having a m4mv option.

2 comments July 24th, 2008

True Blood: I will not use the words “suck” or “bite” in this headline because that would be cliche

Oh, Alan Ball. You gave me Six Feet Under. Even if you never did anything else with your career, I’d still revere you as a genius. Even after I heard your recent play was so bad that, despite the plentiful full frontal male nudity, everyone I knew unanimously panned it.

So now, here we have True Blood — Ball’s return to HBO original programming. The pilot leaked onto the internet and, I must admit, I have previewed it. Sadly, it’s not all everyone (or, if you prefer, “I”) wants it to be. Admittedly, the bar has been set pretty high, but I think the pilot would be a bit lukewarm by any standard.


True Blood, which is based on a series of books, tells the story of a parallel universe where vampires have “come out of the coffin” (…yeah…) and live openly among us. The crafty Japanese have developed a synthetic blood that allows them to survive without actually feasting on the blood of the living.

Set in Sticksville, Louisiana, Anna Paquin stars as a gap-toothed psychic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse (she just is — okay?) who strikes up an interest in a sexy, sexy vampire. His name is Bill (it just is — okay?). It’s a dangerous attraction as many people are not vampiro-tolerant. There are a lot of muddled comparisons to other civil rights struggles (one character says “I support the Vampire Rights Amendment” in the same way that people might say “Some of my best friends are black.” Also, one of the first scenes in the show features a cameo by Bill Maher hosting his show with a vampire panelist.)

The cast is rounded out by Sookie’s (I can’t believe that’s her name — it sounds dirty) none-too-likable loudmouthed best friend, her totally-crushed-out boss, her ne’er-do-well brother and her lovable and kooky grandmother.

What goes wrong with True Blood? Well, for the record, it’s not awful. In fact, I haven’t even given up on it. But, for the pilot, they should probably have spent some more time setting up the alternate universe. We know that it’s strongly based in reality (they even talk about Hurricane Katrina), but they don’t give much exposition to what the vampires are like, what they history is, etc. Half the fun of these kinds of shows is playing “what if” on the first episode and setting up the mythology. Hopefully, this will continue to unravel throughout the season.

Also, the characters kind of need to get punched up. Sookie and Bill are adequately fleshed out (or left mysterious, as the case may be), but many other characters run together (one exception — the glammed-out gay cook).

It’s actually hard to describe what left me wanting about the pilot — perhaps I just wanted more action and more blood-sucking, coffin-sleeping vampire activity. I’d really like to see what it’s like to figure out the psychology of characters accepting vampires as fellow citizens.

I’m sure it’ll happen, but hopefully there will be an upward trajectory from the pilot onward. It’s important to note, though, that this probably isn’t the final cut and they could very well trim some of the fat (possibly entire characters?).

1 comment July 7th, 2008


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