Now True Blood, it’s crazy-ass Southern culture with fangs, specifically bayou culture with fangs, and that’s just perfect in my opinion. The idea of red-neck vampires is truly scary, and then there are the Southern gentleman vampires and foreign exotic imports to lend a bit of class. Lots of sex and naked people - these vampires are strictly adult content. And they look really, really sexy in a menacing way full of promise. (Well, not the red-neck ones, who look like they hide their coffins in double-wides with tires in the front yard.) Vampires are all about sex, anyway, and the deep dark recesses of the subconscious, your own private bayou, so to speak.
The great thing about these popular genres is the way they mirror the issues and obsessions of the time. While the literary novels are busy being cool and minimalist, or grungy and despairing, or poetic and earnest, the genre writers are down on the streets, not hesitating to be playful and trashy and ephemeral. In True Blood, vampires mirror gays. The vampires have “come out of the coffin,” and are trying their best to integrate into regular society. Meanwhile the completely cuckoo Fellowship of the Sun (a more genteel and better-armed Westboro Baptist Church) is all “God hates fangs” and sharpening stakes after Bible studies. Despite the fact that the vamps are swigging synthetic blood and really putting their all into living in the open and not sucking on unwilling humans (they seem to have enough willing donors to keep them from starving), they are still loathed and feared, when folks aren’t exploiting vampire blood as a recreational drug. People hate them yet profit off them. Yeah, that sounds like the world.
Sometimes these genre entertainments step into the sublime. In the midst of all the delightfully gratuitous sex and fighting off the bad guys, True Blood has its philosophical moments. Lately they’ve been rolling in some Greek mythology, a maenad hosting huge orgies and ripping out folks’ hearts in the hope of calling down Dionysus to devour her (and presumably everyone else). Yet when she talks about mysticism and how our culture roots out any whiff of the ecstatic, she makes perfect sense, even while she’s sauteing a human heart with butter and scallions. Truth and evil mixed up.
And, of course, you can’t have vampires without some reflections on mortality and the soul, evil and redemption. I found this scene of the vampire Godric choosing to meet the sun strangely moving. First there’s the sad parting between him and his "child" (and damn these two are gorgeous), and then there is this dialogue about God between him and the heroine Sookie:
“Do you believe in God?”
“If you’re right, how he will punish me?”
“God doesn’t punish - God forgives.”
“I don’t deserve it, but I hope for it.”
“We all do.”
Then he says that in her tears he sees God.
Man, it’s just full of awesome.
And did I mention that these two men are really, really hot. I mean, I would happily lick away those tears of blood. I have a very giving heart.