Look at any magazine rack, TV listing, book shelf or movie marquee nowadays and you'll find evidence of the world's ongoing fascination with vampires. But if you've been sucked in to the craze by way of some domesticated variety, don't think for a minute that all neck-biters are created equal. In fact, vampires come in as many flavors nowadays as can be found at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop—from the sparkling teen heartthrob to the old-school "I'm going to drink your blood!" tuxedo-wearer.
Laying claim to the over-spiced Cajun slot on the undead menu is HBO's True Blood. And you don't have to watch much to feel its burn. Even the opening title sequence—with its quick intermingled images of nude sexuality, blood-dripping violence and backwater religious fervor—makes it clear where the show intends to sink its dramatic teeth.
The action swoops in on the Louisiana town of Bon Temps, a small community filled with the uncanny, the unbathed and the inbred. At the heart of it all is one Sookie Stackhouse, a drawling, telepathic waitress. Surrounding her are shapeshifters and mediums, werewolves and faerie-vampire hybrids, halflings and cross-dressing short-order cooks.
Ever since a new synthetic blood concoction called Tru Blood hit the market, vampire residents of the bayou have stepped out of their coffins and into the mainstream of society. But they're not always met with a friendly smile. (Allegorical parallels to the gay-rights movement—such as an anti-vampire church sign that reads "God Hates Fangs"—are easy to spot.) Then again, not many of the vamp camp's blood-sipping actions are very smile worthy:
True Blood presents its dark vision of vampirism as a threatening and sexually aggressive underworld that draws humans like overexcited flies to an open pool of blood. And that's very often exactly where they end up—face down in their own gore.
This series promises supernatural adventure and romance. It ends up delivering a soulless blend of grisly violence and raw sexuality that bleeds viewers dry.
An orgy of killing brackets and intermingles with a somber funeral in an episode that does everything in its preternatural power to undermine its title. But sentiments from the opening theme song are not at all at odds with what follows: "I want to do bad things with you."
Before the carnage concludes, we've seen enough blood and gore to fill a sewage treatment tank, with a man's sexual organs getting ripped off (and shown), teeth getting pulled out of heads, heads getting stomped on (exploding into grisly mush), and a body bursting into flame before it collapses into a huge puddle of gore. Severed body parts literally litter the ground and pile up in corners. Blood coats surfaces and skin like paint.
There's graphic talk about sexual assault and rape. Full-frontal female nudity is shown multiple times, often with the women completely drenched in gore.
A woman doggedly quotes Psalm 23 as she sets out to kill more vampires. Obscene, sexually laced expressions are attributed to Jesus. There are close to a dozen f-words and four or five s-words; God's name is merged with "d‑‑n." A beer is branded "Raging B‑‑ch."
"It Hurts Me Too"
Bill is kidnapped by a gang of werewolves and brought before the vampire king of Mississippi who offers him a deal: If Bill will serve the king, then riches and authority will be his. Also, Sookie won't become vampire chow.
Meanwhile, Sookie is trying to find her mysteriously vanished dead lover and goes to a werewolf bar to mind-read for clues.
Meanwhile, Tara is off having torrid sex with a vampire named Franklin who is slowly manipulating control over her life.
Meanwhile, shape-shifter Sam has tracked down his real family—his brother and mom being shape-shifters, too—to find out why they abandoned him as an infant.
Meanwhile, Bill is sharing angry moments with Lorena, the vampire who originally turned him and drove him away from his wife. Lorena wants to sink her claws back into Bill. But she pushes too hard and Bill pushes back in an episode-collapsing rape scene. It ends with him twisting Lorena's head 180 degrees, leaving her spitting blood as she smiles through it all.
Other foul moments include a gory ripped-out throat, a headless corpse, dead pox-ridden children, graphic lesbian oral sex and rampant profanity as a torrent of f- and s-words fall headlong into the abyss.