‘Mahhh stars’, drawls Sookie in her quaint Louisiana accent, though you’d think she’d need a slightly stronger oath to properly express her crazy life. If she’s not hearing the secret thoughts of everyone around her – kind of a nuisance when you work in a busy tavern – she’s bitch-slapping baddies and making goo-goo eyes at vampires old enough to be her great-great-great–grandfather.
Sookie is a mass of contradictions, as indeed, is everyone in True Blood. Yeah, I know it’s been on some fancy-pants channel for months and you’re all on episode twenty-nine, but us terrestrial beings are only now, courtesy of Channel 4, able to plunge into this bonkers world of Southern Gothic sex, fangs and violence, which is what passes for light entertainment these days.
Where was I? Contradictions. Sookie never says anything stronger than ‘Lawks a-lawdy mamma-lousy’, yet wears t-shirts so tight her bra is on the outside. She complains prissily about her colleagues’ dirty talk, but has intensely lustful dreams in which she peels off silky little kimonos in order to seduce vampires. The hemlines of all Sookie’s clothes hover between unbelievably short and staggeringly brief.
Talking of vampires, they’re full of contradictions too. They have started to venture out of the coffin, thanks to there now being a synthetic substitute for human blood (called TruBlood, it can be bought down the Co-op in handy six-packs, like Budweiser only slightly thicker and more scarlet). So while vamps aren’t exactly respectable, they’re becoming more visible, with spokespeople on TV insisting on their rights, and liberals like Sookie wanting to befriend them and show that not all live people are mean old bigots. This being the Deep South, though, and vampires presumably being a metaphor for gay people (viz. the excellent ‘God Hates Fangs’ sign outside a church in the opening credits), nearly everyone is in fact a mean old bigot par excellence, insisting that vampires will turn all god-fearing virgins into ‘one of them’.
Sookie’s brother Jason is another m. of c. He is played by someone who used to be in ‘Home and Away’. This has apparently freaked out some viewers as he was previously so wholesome, but in his first scene in True Blood he was in the nuddy making dirty love with a lady who was no better than she oughta; a lady who was dead half-way through episode 1, implying that taking all your clothes off in this programme is guaranteed to get you into trouble. Fresh-faced Jason had his clothes off and lookit! He was almost straight away arrested for murdering the naughty lady.
Jason clearly wasn’t the murderer as we see him with his hands round the naughty lady’s neck and next thing two gum-chewing hoe-down hat-wearing cops are telling Jason she was strangled, and taking him in. It’s too obvious and anyway Sookie tells us that he might be a bit of a lad but he ain’t no killer. We trust Sookie because she is played by Anna Pacquin and is inherently trustworthy. More to the point she has the most incredible mouth which will easily sweep the board for best supporting role come the Emmys. This mouth has a life of its own, over-acting wildly, turning up and down simultaneously, throwing in random smirks or scowls out of context. I spent most of the first episode transfixed by it.
As did Bill, prosaically-named vampire who has such sizzling chemistry with Sookie that all the rest of the cast simply stand well back wearing those big safety goggles. Of course, Bill is a mass of contradictions too. On the one hand he’s every girl’s dream, being dark and handsome (if a trifle pale), plus incredibly charming with good old (very, very old) Southern manners. He asks Sookie if he might visit with her at her home, the best euphemism for wild vampire-human shagging I’ve heard all week. And the way he says her name – all shadowy whispered sibilants and vowels – ‘Sssssoooook-ayyyy’ – makes her, and us, simply melt.
But of course, on the other hand, he is dead and needs to drink blood on the hour. Not what most people would consider ‘must haves’ for their ideal date. However, Sookie has the demented right-on-ness of a very young person and thinks everyone is just being totally, like, mean to the vampires. She is wildly over-excited to see Bill in her bar, and the fact that he’s cute is the icing on the pecan pie. Her telepathy means she can hear everyone thinking, ‘No Sookie! Don’t go touching that vampire. You don’t know where he’s been’, but where that mouth of hers goes, Sookie has no choice but to follow.
All this just skims the surface of True B. I haven’t even mentioned the brilliantly camp baddies, the Rattrays (with a name like that what chance did they have for going straight?); or that humans like to drink vampire blood, in a weird reversal of the norm, because it’s some kind of potent lifter-upper, like Red Bull, only redder; or that Lafayette the chef is a southern black gay man and consequently the most stereotyped character in a hotly-contested field; or that Tara, Sookie’s motor-mouthed best friend who accurately pronounces her own name ‘Terror’, nearly steals the entire thing with her scene as a hardware store assistant.
In short, it’s a jam-packed deep-fried technicolour mother of a show, and, if you’ll pardon the expression, vampire-liberators, it sucked me right in.
Posted by Qwerty