he Humanity of True Blood
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 16:09
In early September, HBO announced that the upcoming seventh season of the supernatural drama True Blood would be its last. Within this world of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and faeries growing progressively more chaotic and complex every year, some may judge the decision as wise, believing the ever-expanding story may become too much for the writers to handle. But, True Blood thrives on the chaos. It allows us as the audience to watch a strong and wonderfully diverse cast of characters at their best, but more often than not, at their worst. But, most importantly, through their seemingly unending struggles, we watch these beloved characters grow.
For those unacquainted with the show, True Blood premiered in September 2008 after being created by the screenwriter of American Beauty, Alan Ball, who loosely based it upon Charlene Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. Despite the heavy supernatural element in the show, Ball creates a world which seems real and believable. The show begins by thrusting us into this world which has just been shocked by the vampires revealing their existence to the humans. The invention of True Blood, a synthetic blood beverage, allowing the vampires to survive without feeding on human blood prompted the revelation. Much of the show focuses on very real issues the vampire community faces post-revelation, for example their fight for equal rights in the face of prejudice. Ball draws our attentions to the problems of a singular small and conservative bayou town in Louisiana: Bon Temps. This setting and its residents, the main cast of characters in the show, become our constant through the intricate web of plot twists and turns which occur throughout the six seasons of the show. Their very human battles with intolerance, addiction, insecurity, racism, mortality, morality, and many more define it as a human drama rather than just another vampire show.
(The following paragraphs may contain some spoilers)
One character of True Blood’s large and colorful cast who exemplifies this notion of a human drama is Eric Northman, played by the Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård. Eric is a one thousand year old vampire Sheriff (a position of authority within the vampire community), who was a Viking prince in his human life. At first, in many ways, Eric seems to be anything but a human. Ball originally presents him to us as a vampire unshackled by any sort of human morality, willing to use or kill anyone and anything to achieve his own selfish goals and satiate desires.
Yet, as we come to know his character more, we see him in a more human light. One such instance occurs during a flashback where we see a young human Eric upon his deathbed after being injured in battle. A mysterious vampire visits him giving him a choice between life and death and Eric, unready to accept death, utters the Swedish word for “life.” Most of us can relate to being unready to die, forcing us to empathize with a character we may have previously deemed to be heartless. Eric continues to surprise with his humanity us when he shows an intense love for that mysterious vampire known as his maker (the vampire who made him a vampire and Eric’s companion for centuries) and for his progeny (the vampire which he made). While Eric does not abandon his more selfish nature, he repeatedly shows a degree of selflessness towards those whom he deeply cares for, something many of us can relate to.
The chaos of True Blood, many times laden with tragedy, forces the previously icy Viking melt with emotion, making this show sometimes dismissed as fanciful or a Twilight rip-off (FACT: True Blood premiered before the first Twilight movie) very human. Aided by a phenomenal cast of actors, True Blood, chaos and all, thrills and engrosses its audience, making those faithful to the show fervently loyal to its characters to the point where when a character is apparently killed off boycotts instantly spring up online, protesting the next season. For those have not had the pleasure, I would definitely recommend sinking your fangs into this great show.