Monday, October 06, 2008

'True Blood' gets trashy ... you like?

If you missed it, "True Blood" was picked up for a second season. While I haven't see a fan-bar called Fangtasia pop up in The Shreve, it appears the HBO series will be sucking up viewers for months to come.

That's interesting locally because the show's done a bit of second unit work here. (The show's also set in north Louisiana and makes weekly references to Monroe and Shreveport.)

Have you been watching? I'm a bit baffled so far, really.

I'm usually a sucker for darkly comic humor, but these scenarios involving sex, blood, drugs and desire sometimes seem juvenile and symbolically obvious. While I'm not expecting a Southern gothic series to be big on subtlety, I am expecting its treatment of carnality to be a bit more mysterious, a bit less corny.

I might be misreading the tone, though.

The recent episodes have played with the sexual proclivities of Jason (Ryan Kwanten, pictured), Sookie Stackhouse's permanently horny brother. He's become a murder suspect because the last two women he slept with ended up dead. (The dumbie didn't do it, but he's getting dangerously close to jail time.)

Last week, Jason scored a whole vial of vampire blood (called V, which is sold as an illegal sexual stimulant) in the hopes of being a bigger stud. V is essentially black market Viagra and is supposed to unlock human inhibitions in a decidely vampish way.

Being completely dumb, Jason downed the whole bottle -- instead of the recommended drop or two -- in the back of a cop car. The mistake cost him eggplant-style swelling, a nasty blister, a trip to the emergency room, and a needle in the ... I can't even write it, it's so painful.

While initially funny, the episode burned about 20 of its 45 minutes on the below-the-belt crisis. Overkill, methinks.

This week, Jason again scored more V and this time took the right amount. By the end of the episode, he ended up behind a bar dumpster with a fresh divorcée. Caught in the act by his crusher Tara -- who sprung him from police custody -- Jason and his fling ended up covered in barroom trash and howling for more.

Again, funny. But I'm not sure what the show's shock-and-yuck tactics are all about.

On the one hand, all the emphasis on taboo reads like a desperate grab for viewership. Unapologetically objectifying its subjects and giving us no real insights into sex and desire.

On the other, the treatment can be read like playful exploration of modern vampire mythology. Vampires have always loved gettin' down and dirty. "True Blood" is just taking a convention and retelling it with a sense of the absurd. I can appreciate that.

What's your take on the show so far? Too much battabingbattaboom? Subversive and funny?

Lemme know.


Crazy In Shreveport said...

I heart True Blood.

Noma said...

To me, it's all like a modern comic book and it works. I'm digging it.