Cardboard Cutouts Soaked in Blood

Did I say Californication was foul? Did I say Oz was foul? No. Oz and Californication are henceforth to be known as gentle frolics through fields of lilies with puppies at one’s side. Sorry, True Blood lovers, but I hate this show with the fire of a thousand sons-of-bitches.

True Blood is grotesque and repellent. I’m pretty sure that’s the point, and I can see how it would appeal to someone who’s less of a scaredy-cat than I am. But I need something true to wash down all that blood. In all six seasons of Oz, there was hardly an extra whose character wasn’t fully formed. Ditto Alan Ball’s previous show, Six Feet Under. Meanwhile, the character on True Blood with the most depth was a possum (and by that I mean that the poor thing ended up drowned). But look, in all fairness, I don’t think it’s crap like, say, Two and a Half Men. Alan Ball deserves your respectful hate, not your run-of-the-mill, this-is-stupid hate.

So what do I hate about this show, besides the gore? (How many times do I need to see Sookie pick chunks of bloody flesh out of her cleavage?) The characters. All of them. Except for Tara and René. And those of you who have seen True Blood will know that the fact that I found those two to be the most pleasant and charismatic characters on the show is at least 50 percent unfortunate. Let’s review:

As main character Sookie, Anna Paquin is cute and likable and the character is about as interesting as that description. Why, if she’s so virginal and naïve, does she dress like such a slut? I want to throw bathrobes at the screen.

Sookie’s grandmother, let’s call her Mamie Milquetoast, is perhaps the worst-written character I’ve ever seen on television. Is the actress terrible? Maybe, but it’s hard to tell when she’s been given such an appalling role to work with. Could Kathy Bates have made this work? Probably, but it’s not fair to hold anyone to a Kathy Bates standard. The murder of Driving Miss Mamie was particularly gruesome, but for once I wasn’t in the least put off, so busy was I clapping my hands with glee. If she had died in the pilot, I might have liked this show better. If she had died any later in the season, I probably wouldn’t have made it until the end. Is it just me or does it take away from the emotional heft of killing off a major character when doing so fills your viewers with relief and delight?

Sam the bartender gives Mamie a run for her milque money. What a sad sack. Developments toward the end of the season made him slightly more interesting, but I don’t think there’s much to brag about when people only like you while you’re being played by a dog.

Then we’ve got Sookie’s brother, Jason. Is there a more loathsome character on television? Nothing wrong with being loathsome if that’s what the role calls for, but when the purpose of a character is to be the handsome bad boy with goodness simmering under the surface and he’s neither handsome nor very bad, and he’s got nothing under the surface, perhaps you should fire your casting director. And I don’t buy for one minute that Tara would be into him.

Bill, Sookie’s vampire lover, gets a pass because one-dimensionality and wooden acting are becoming in a vampire. Ditto for Eric, local vampire overlord (yes, Lil Baji, I like him; they should have cast him as Jason).

Lafayette: Gay. Flamboyant. Yawn.

René the Cajun is almost impossible to understand and for that I give him five stars.

And then there’s Tara. A living, breathing human being in a forest of cardboard cutouts. A visitor who got lost on the way to the bathroom and ended up locked in the wax museum overnight. She projects so much sorrow and so much real, believable emotion in just one look. Her tortured-soul storyline grows tiresome as the season plays out, but early on, I was impressed.

Finally, I really could have lived without ever seeing Office Space‘s Milton in a sex scene:


2 responses to “Cardboard Cutouts Soaked in Blood

  1. while i disagree with your ultimate assessment, i cannot begrudge you your opinion (it’s yours, after all) since you actually took the time and effort to watch the show before forming it. i barely remember any of the show other than how much i love eric’s scenes. i actually dislike tara because she was so pathetic and her accent annoyed me. i think it was more LB’s enthusiasm and bullying that got me through the first season and then i could enjoy the second for its own sake (jason is hilarious!). the rest of it is tangled up with the book series which i highly suggest you do NOT read. shall i prepare a 128-word anti-recommendation for you? does this comment fulfill it? yes, yes it does.

  2. There is not much Eric in Season 1, so I might have to watch Season 2 just to see more of him. Plus everyone says Season 2 is much better.

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