We’re five episodes Alan Ball’s deep into True Blood‘s fifth season, and it’s time for the show to stop vomiting on its own shoes for a couple minutes and decide what it wants to be. Is a winking self-parody, where every character is on the joke of living in a fictional universe full of "Supes"? (Supernaturals. Ugh. Don’t get me started.)
Is it a dark satire, and if so, can someone please explain what it is that True Blood is satirizing anymore, now that we’ve covered America, religion, homosexuality, the media, rednecks, hippies, the word "Sookie"
Or is True Blood just a Dark Shadows soap opera, with the occasional pithy line acknowledging its own goofiness or "culturally relevant" plot development ("Now we have our own Smoke Monster…from Iraq!" – this show), attempting to keep viewer numbers up on a program that directly precedes The Newsroom?
Oh I get it. True Blood is an Aaron Sorkin show, but with vampires/werewolves/shifters/Ifrits! (That’s right. Ifrits. Google it. Because someone in the show actually says "I Googled it," in reference to True Blood‘s newest obscure evilness. It’s like a very surreptitious way the show gets its audience to do its homework for them.) Like an Aaron Sorkin show, True Blood simultaneously wants to be taken very, very seriously, while still having the "out" of reminding its audience, "Hey, this shit isn’t real, so just have fun and don’t worry about it!"
Okay, to push this analogy farther: when Sorkin was on Colbert last week, he made this big to-do about how The Newsroom was this idealized, fantasy landscape of news media, and that people should care about the show notbecause of the subject matter, but because of the interpersonal drama and the characters. When Colbert tried to call him on this new strain of evasive bullshit, Aaron Sorkin made some comment about right, how all high schools are exactly like Glee. Meaning: if Glee doesn’t have to strive for the gritty realism of The Wire, why should his shows? Do your best!
So in Aaron Sorkin’s perfect world, it doesn’t matter what setting you put your fully-formed, three-dimensional characters (who all sleep with each other): it could be a sports newsroom, a regular newsroom, a courthouse, or on Mars. (As long as there are courts and newrooms on Mars.) That’s a strawman argument, because Sorkin’s characters are all earnestly invested in their beliefs about the world they inhabit (some might say too invested), so in order for his stories to work, a viewer also has to de facto give a shit about…the news. The White House. Facebook. Whatever.
True Blood no longer cares if we care about vampires or Sookie or any of this made-up crap. Sometimes the dialogue will become Sorkin-esque, like Roman reminiscing about the chancellor he was forced to stake. "Drew was a good man…we signed the Vampire Right’s Amendment together," Christopher Meloni says with a straight face. Then two beats later, when Salome tells him that there are traitors in their midst, he replies "No shit." He is basically rolling his eyes with the audience at her over-the-top dialogue after delivering a totally over-the-top speech! You can’t do that on television! Well you can, but don’t expect anyone to get real invested in your plot when you can barely be bothered to yourself.
Same goes for Sookie, who throws up all over Alcide before she can give him a blowjob. She turns around to find that her ex-boyfriends, Eric and Bill, have vampire-appeared in her doorway to make snotty comments and tell her she has to help them find Russell Edgington. In a world where characters act in some manner that would make us care about them, Sookie would be mortified to be caught in the act like that. She would also probably be furious, seeing as the two loves of her life disappeared from town the night she told them she couldn’t date either of them, and then show up to be dicks and then demand she use her fairy powers to help them….not be killed?
But instead, this is what she says: "Must be a Thursday." Then she climbs out her broken front door, mumbling something about "boot and rally."
So which is it, writers of True Blood? Are you doing that Eminem thing from 8 Mile where you are dissing yourself in your own lyrics so no one can make fun of you? Is that whole subplot where Jessica and Tara suddenly act like they are in an episode of Girls your version of telling the audience that you do have a friend named Cheddar Bob?
Maybe it’s the fact that True Blood has the super highest ratings, and that means everyone in the writer’s room is allowed to smoke as much PCP-laced marijuana as they want. What else would explain the juxtaposing silliness of a human police presence in a town of supernatural beings with the horrific imagery of Jesus’ head on a platter, his mouth sewn shut, desperately trying to convey a message which only his ex-boyfriend’s schizophrenic mother can decipher?
And when this show isn’t trying to be an Aaron Sorkin production, it’s now trying to be Lost, which at least makes a little more sense, but is so obvious in its efforts that its a little sad. Like, it’s great to see the Smoke Monster getting work, but it’s a little heavy-handed to make the Ifrit part of the curse of a dying woman whom Terry Bellefleur shot in Iraq. Woof, right?
You’d think Terry would remember something like that, but apparently he’s only now just remembered anything that happened during his tour of duty. Whatever, just explain it away with PTSD. The Hurt Locker. Pyromaniac ghosts. Google it. No shit.
On the bright side, Dennis O’Hare finally got a line, and Bill and Eric might be dead by sunrise if the nerd fromVeronica Mars wasn’t lying about their cross-bombs being activated. So there’s always next week to look forward to!