For those of you not "in the (vampire) know," HBO's cult hit, True Blood, had its series finale this past Sunday. If you haven't seen the show, all you need to know is this: Vampires exist, and everyone knows about it. Ever since vampires "came out of the coffin," the citizens of one very unlucky small town, and, in particular, one Miss Sookie Stackhouse, have been terrorized, as vampires and other scary mythical creatures alike (and, also, MANY stupid creatures no one cares about) seem determined to make the underworld pilgrimage to Renard Parish, aka, the undisputed location of the gates of hell, located in - you guessed it - Louisiana (I mean, is there a better place for a Hell Mouth?!).
Even as I attempt to explain the show, I'm embarrassed that I watch it. When it FIRST started, I was able to make the argument that the show was truly an allegory, using story lines about vampire rights to make statements about civil rights issues in the world today. AND then they introduced werewolves, shape shifters (i.e., humans that can change into animals other than wolves...and also wolves), faeries (think fairies...spelled funny), witches, were-panthers (i.e., humans that can change into - wait for it - panthers) and maenads (I still don't even know what this is - presumably some sort of demon) into the mix. Suddenly a show that started out gritty, dirty (in a good way) and super violent became a parody of itself, seemingly overnight. And that all happened in season two. THIS SHOW WENT ON FOR SEVEN SEASONS.
But it wasn't all bad - the show did a lot of things right. But also a LOT of things bad. Let's take a look:
And they should have stuck with what they knew. Vampires alone can carry a show for any number of seasons. Don't believe me? Look at all the other vampire-themed shows out there (e.g., The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Buffy, Angel, Blade (YES - apparently, there was a TV show. I was SHOCKED...and so SO excited.)). They should have picked a horse and stuck with it, a la The Walking Dead.
3. VIOLENCE: When your subject matter is vampires, you get a lot of leeway when it comes to the violence factor. Especially when your show is on HBO. And True Blood nailed it with the vampire deaths. They were GROSS. They were hard to watch at times. And they were always brutal. All characteristics of what a good Death-By-Vampire should be. If a vamp is going to kill you - whether you're a human or another vampire - it's not going to be easy...and you're definitely not going to enjoy it. In addition to the victim death rattles (I can't believe we didn't get to see Tara's lip quiver one last time), there were many battle scenes over the show's history. Like when the vamps battled the witches on the mean streets of Shreveport. Or when the healthy vamps battled the sickly, Hep-V vamps (yep, you missed a lot) outside of Bellefleur's. The battle scenes were always well done. And you were almost always guaranteed to lose a character you actually liked in the mix. Way to keep us on our toes, TB.
UNFORTUNATELY, not all of the shows actors rose to that level of greatness. Case in point, the show's two main characters: Sookie (the faery telepath who pulls all these creatures to Bon Temps like moths to a flame) played by Anna Paquin, and Vampire Bill (Sookie's on-again-off-again vampire love interest) played by Stephen Moyer. Sookie always looks like she's a few cats shy of a nuthouse, and she always takes at least two full seconds to have a simple reaction to other people's lines or emotions. Bill, on the other hand, has an ultra-creepy way of saying "SOOKIE" - like he's hissing at her. And every time his fangs pop out, he quivers his lips. It's not sexy. It's repulsive. He also attempts to walk with swagger...which he does not have. I mean, REALLY. He's in skinny jeans. Always.
2. THE ACCENTS: The Louisiana accent all the characters on the show were expected to have was grating. In all fairness, most of the actors playing these Louisiana "natives" actually had foreign accents that they had to overcome in order to play these cats. Alexander (yep, we're on a first name basis) is originally from Sweden, Stephen Moyer is from Essex, and Ryan Kwanten (who plays Sookie's adorable, but bumbling, brother) is from Australia. And Stephen and Ryan are both supposed to play characters from DEEP woods Louisiana. All I can say is thank GOD they are easy on the eyes. Same holds true for all of the cast members, though I do admit that at some point the accents became horribly lovable and endearing. Maybe I'm just a softie at heart, but I may actually miss some of those accents (probably not, but I will miss the actors trying their darndest to use them).
3. THE STORY LINES: There was just too much going on at any one time. You want to give us a show about vampires living amongst humans in (almost) perfect harmony? Great. But you want to compound that with threats from witches and demons? It gets a little murky. And those are "beings" that we've actually heard of! Throw in were-panthers, maenads and shape-shifters (all of which could be found in any ONE episode of the show), and viewers' brains are bound to explode. And that's basically exactly what happened. It just got too convoluted. To the point that if you missed one episode, there was no going back. And who could keep track of all the various types of villainous misfits threatening the safety of the Bon Temps residents?? It was just too much. And not "too much of a good thing" too much. Just TOO MUCH.
And unfortunately, the fact that we, as viewers, had come to expect death, destruction and convoluted plot twists from each and every episode of the seven season show is exactly why people were disappointed with the hum-drum series finale. There wasn't even a creatively brutal death scene! C'mon, HBO - do what you do best: gross us out, devastate us with a surprise death and send us on our merry way.
So, to sum up, it's the end of an era...but maybe that's not such a bad thing in this case? Though I will be mourning the loss of such a high level of testosterone in one show for a very VERY long time...or at least until Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead come back on.