Back in 2008, when it was announced that Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball was making a series based on the Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels by Charlaine Harris, I went hunting in a London branch of a now defunct bookshop chain. The books were in the Paranormal Romance section, where the jackets were awash with ripped shirts, torsos and lots of hair.
Harris’s books were, however, less trashy than most. Ball used them to dream up True Blood, a fleshy, bloody saga of Louisiana folk.
Anna Paquin is Sookie, a perky, psychic waitress rubbing along with handsome, troubled vampires like noble Civil War vet Bill (Stephen Moyer), and handsome, untroubled vampires like Viking sex god Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard).
The rivalry between the two undead studs, and Sookie’s inability to choose, is at the heart of the show, even if she does end up dumping them both for a werewolf, the minx. Mind you, so would you if he looked like man mountain Joe Manganiello. Matching the books’ appeal to female readers, this show drips with eye candy for the ladies.
Along with all the sweaty supernatural lust, a spate of grisly murders occupies the first season, but as True Blood goes on, other themes come into play, from the pure nonsense of life in the fairy realm to the lurid satire of religious zealots deliberately spreading an HIV-like virus to destroy vampires.
Running throughout is the nature of love and its capacity to both nurture and destroy. While the show takes serious potshots at bigotry and evangelical Christianity, it’s also very funny, mainly due to Sookie’s brother Jason, trousers forever round his ankles.
A sexy, often quite revolting riot, True Blood is perfect for binge-watching. But probably not with your parents.