Did someone forget to pay the writers?

I have to admit that although I am not a big fan of the vampire genre, I had high hopes for True Blood. Maybe it had something to do with the Creator and executive producer Alan Ball (writer of American Beauty and executive producer of Six Feet Under).


I heard Alan Ball speaking on the subject of True Blood during an NPR interview. He explained that one of the goals of the series was to use the tensions between vampires and humans as a means to comment on race relations in the past and present United States. This attempt, however, falls completely flat.


The reasons for this are numerous, not the least of which would be a poorly assembled cast of side characters whose acting skills only serve to make the mediocre performances of the main characters seem almost believable by comparison. Perhaps the largest issue is the poorly written script and painfully dull dialogue which is only bearable when ridiculous enough to merit laughter-something that happens often. And, as if the dialogue weren't bad enough on its own, the fake Southern accents only make things much worse. Sometimes its like watching a dramatic remake of Hee-Haw. And there's one more thing that really gets my goat. Most of the anti-vampire actions stem from the need to obtain their blood, which happens to be an addictive drug when ingested by humans. I'll admit that I could stand to brush up on my history, but I really don't remember any time period in which African Americans were violently targeted for their hallucination-inducing blood.


True Blood isn't all bad, there are enough partially nude scenes and skimpy outfits to keep people watching. Throw in some violence and a false sense of satisfaction for watching something which is presented as being at least mildly "intelligent" and you have a brand new HBO kind-of-but-not-really hit! So if you have some spare time, low expectations and are in need of a good laugh, I wholeheartedly recommend you watch True Blood.

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Nov 8, 2008 2:06AM EST

i so wanted to tell u 2 take ure whinings elsewhere.
however, i must say that was a very well written/ interesting piece.
true blood is increasing its fanbase day by day. a second season has already been green lit. the books its based on are pretty popular as well. yes, the show isnt perfect but its still one of the better new shows that came along this fall.
lets talk about true bloods competition. heroes has already peaked. its audience has dropped by a significant amount, so much so that key writers and producers have been fired. this is despite a slight improvement on the abysmal season 2. prison break has effectively half its viewers from when it was most successful. from 12 mil. to 6 mil. how many times can schofield be incarcerated and break out again? is he touring the worlds prisons?
jj abrams fringe started out well but deteriorated rapidly after with its familiar story lines that have been bettered by other shows.
my current favourite new shows would be true blood, eleventh hour and crusoe.eleventh hour (by bruckheimer) is fringes rival. not as character driven as fringe but better stories. i dont mind crusoe either (based on robinson crusoe classic novel). its a cross between lost, pirates of the carribean and pride and the prejudice. id say true blood rates highest among these. a good plus is if the show remains popular they wont run out of ideas. there are many books which its based on that provide a rich mine of plot ideas.
i definitely prefer the dramatic side 2 vampire stories to the cheesy buffy crap.

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Nov 8, 2008 4:24AM EST

You are entitled to your opinions, narrow-minded and mean as they are, but don't post whiny and annoying messages here, we are not interested in the walnut-sized insides of your brain.

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Nov 8, 2008 1:19PM EST

I have no problem with people responding negatively to my posts. However, don't tell me to take my "walnut-sized" brain and "narrow-minded and mean" opinions elsewhere without, at the very least, offering some of your own as a rebuttle.
I'll admit that my critique was lacking in positives, which is not to say I see nothing good about True Blood (I wouldn't still watch it if I didn't), I was just venting my frustrations at the abysmal acting and writing in the show. I think Alan Ball can do better and hope the second season is an improvement on the first.
Oh, and by the way, critiques are not supposed to be nice. At least not if you didn't enjoy the thing that you're critiquing. If you like True Blood, that's great! Tell me why and perhaps I'll be persuaded to join the dark side. Until then, I remain thoroughly disappointed and not a bit sorry that I chose to express myself.

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Anetxu
Nov 8, 2008 4:57PM EST

I like the show, but I agree with cecy-sleeps! Alan Ball can do so much better. Lets wait a lil longer!

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Nov 8, 2008 9:10PM EST

If instead of looking at it purely in terms of African Americans and racism towards them perhaps if the whole V and hallucinagenic business it may be useful to bring in Native Americans under this umbrella aswell.
I'm too could also do to brush up on my history but I think Native American peoples were (perhaps in a tiny way! :)) targeted because of their spiritual and halluginagenic substances. Don't they refer to V as being 'like way spiritual'.
I think the things that are wrong with True Blood are a symptom of television writing at the moment. From the dreaded Lost to the tragically awful Heroes. Everything is trying to hard to be something. Trying to hard to prove themselves. Exciting new television comes from taking a chance and having good people and I think True Blood has good people. It just needs a little leg room to mature into it.
I love that you have chosen to challenge the show. It has made me sit down and think about it and perhaps made me like it that little bit more because for the most part the things that have annoyed you dont really bother me. Being a Scot the terrible Southern accent goes unnoticed and how many terrible Scottish (or English) accents have you heard on T.V. :D (You learn to forgive :D) also I don't hate the acting I think Anna Paquin is quite brilliant.
The thought of sex, violence and mildly intelligent connotations has made many a hit in the past so if thats all you think True Blood has to offer then heres hoping it works for Alan Ball too! :D

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Nov 9, 2008 7:17AM EST

Now, see, I would think the size of your brain is evident from the way you seem only to appreciate the "nude scenes and skimpy outfits". I was being generous comparing it to walnuts, since it appears that you are unaware you can get even more of those things you so enjoy in these things call porn, without annoyances like dialogue and history.
If you think your 'analysis' of how the 'blood-hunting' of vampires don't translate well into race relations, you obviously have a very poor understanding of literary techniques. Now, something important is coming up, take note: not EVERYTHING has to do with race relations. Some parts can just be, I don't know, fiction?
And by the way, critiques don't usually extend to insulting viewers of the show, even if the reviewer thinks there are room for improvement.
Last, but most certainly not least, take a look around sidereel and you'll see that we don't have a problem with negative reviews, if they are written intelligently and courteously. Yours is neither, and for god's sake, if you hate it this much, just switch off your tv.

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Nov 9, 2008 10:49AM EST

Blessedbe: I find it hilarious that someone who obviously has problems expressing themselves clearly and in a grammatically correct manner is mocking my intelligence. That said, I have a very good understanding of literary techniques. I utilize that knowledge when I'm reading.
Now, to stop this inane back and forth, I'll mention a few of the things that I actually liked about True Blood. Then you (blessedbe) can spend your spare time acquainting yourself with an English textbook. That way, when you insult another person's intelligence you wont make a complete arse of yourself.
I do not think True Blood is completely terrible. It has a lot of potential, and the premise of the show is very interesting. Ball's attempt to use this genre as a venue for social commentary adds layers of meaning which take an old idea and transform into something new. That said, this would be a much greater accomplishment if the show had well-written dialogue. However, there are parts of the show that are written well. One example of this is the exchange between the captive vampire and Sookie's brother. As a matter of fact, this entire situation is possibly the best part of the show so far in that it actually does deal with issues of social relations while causing people to question the reasoning the hippie girl uses to justify her terrible actions as they are juxtaposed to the eloquent story the vampire tells concerning his experiences as a homosexual when he was still human.
I would love to continue with this. Unfortunately I have a thesis to finish by January and should probably spend my time doing that. As an ending comment I would like to clarify something. I was not trying to insult people who watch True Blood (I mean, I'm one of them, so why wold i do that?) If it sounded that way I apologize.

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Nov 9, 2008 12:50PM EST

Okay, wow. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but why would you ever come on here and say this? If someone is on this page, they probably like the show, or are about to start watching it. Don't ruin it for them by putting pre-conceived notions about the show written by some person who thinks they know what makes a good show, and probably thinks they could do better than the professionals, into their heads. Take your whining somewhere else. The show isn't perfect, but that doesn't mean you have to sit here and point out every little fault that you notice.

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Nov 9, 2008 1:31PM EST

Interesting point, initially I was just content with the fact that the Sookie Stackhouse series went to television that i didnt even think about it anymore.
BUT, now that season 1 is drawing to a close... My expectations are higher as the book has a more "serious" message regarding races & prejudices etc. The show tended to be a bit more wishy/washy as they didnt really focus on the main characters but brought secondary characters into more important roles. I dont think there is enough character development for the main characters...
Well we can see what happens in season 2... Hopefully the same as the books it should just get better & better!

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Jun 7, 2016 4:58PM EDT

HA! *smile*...co-sign Captain Pinapples...I didn't even know they were books, but at the same time, it's not surprising. Many "books gone movie" never get true justice (The Bourne Identity etc...by Robert Ludlum - good flick but the books kick a** plain and simple!)... Nonetheless, I would have to say that I really like Tru Blood. I think it's one of the freshest shows this season (if not THE freshest). I think the issues about race, class, ignorance, education, principle, perversity and other ills *and wills* of our troubled society are treated pre-tty clearly for "fiction". It's actually pretty savvy, subtle and clear. I don't need to have it written in black and white to get the picture or the initial message. At the end of the day, it's entertainment... and if it happens to address real issues, well I would say...."Get it? Got it? Good!". More power to Tru Blood.

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Nov 9, 2008 6:11PM EST

You seem to have had a pretty strong reaction to the show, and not in the best way it seems. I admit I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to southern accents, but considering that a lot of the cast members are from other countries I'd say they're doing very good jobs. I also think your comment on their acting was rather harsh, as I found them to be compelling and interesting.I just started watching the show and I really love it. I don't mind the different southern sounding accents, but I know it's bothered some other viewers. I love all the relationships between the characters and the chemistry between Bill and Sookie is fantastic.I'd like to say that the reason for the "skimpy outfits and partially nude scenes" are mearly staying true to the books. The writers have said that they are staying very very close to Sookie's exact outfits from the novels. Overall I thought your review was too judgemental, but then again everyone has different tastes.

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Nov 9, 2008 7:57PM EST

I don't find the outfits etc... to far removed from what you would expect to see in real life. I don't find the sexual content too overly much as everybody does it! lol! Some just a little more extreme than others. Why shouldn't those who like it a little different have a slice of the tv pie. If that makes sense.
I think it would be best if all sides could move away from insulting others intelligence. It demeans you and this site as well as the rest of us who have to read it.
I kind of thought the show was about those areas of grey in the world. Not just one sub set of racial relations but attitudes towards homosexuality, femininity and masculinity (Lafayette much! lol!), sexual practices, drug taking and the supernatural. The world is full of shades of grey so why only look at things in Black and White. :D
Cecy Sleeps I understand where you are coming from and by the sounds of things perhaps discussion on this forum of anything other than the best points are going to be attacked. However, to those out there quick to attack cecysleeps- please keep in mind it is through discussions such as this that shows like True Blood that are already good can be made better. I'm sure someone somewhere with a finger on the pulse and a say in tv production must read these things. (not necessarily this one but well...)

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Nov 9, 2008 10:05PM EST

I just wanted to mention that with the first comment - "did someone forget to pay the writers", that a lot of the storyline and dialogue come from the first book by Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark, though some characters for the television series were made up. Even some of the costumes are from the book, so they tried to match it as closely as possible. If you have some confusion about it, pick it up and see - my guess is that Charlaine Harris has a lot of input because they are her books...
Though we wish tv shows and movies based on books were as good as the book - this one actually is very very similar to the book - which kind of makes me dissapointed that they didn't do more with it. And if Charlaine Harris does have a lot of input in the show, I wish she wouldn't - her creative part is over - she's done the books. Lets let the producers, screenwriters, wardrobe and actors have some creativity left!
I'm still giving it a chance - I love the chemistry between Bill and Sookie and their awkwardness etc.

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Nov 9, 2008 10:11PM EST

I do not understand why people are getting so up in arms about this. I don't want to throw myself into this argument and break the tentative truce, but there is one thing I would like to point out to those of you who have critiqued cecy's critique- there's this idea of "If you don't like it, turn off your TV" (despite having it stated several times that cecy_sleeps does enjoy the show,) but I think we haven't really considered- "if you don't like it, don't read it."There are so many worse things hanging around the discussions of True Blood particularly, and other shows based off books such as Dexter, that reveal so many critical plot points from the book. If you were to go on a tirade, why not make it about something useful?As for your actual review, cecy, I have to agree with you on most points, though a little less passionately. Things like the acting and accents only bother me sometimes, and for the most part i do get a feeling that there will hopefully be some character development; it does seem like they kinda gave up on that. What really interested me, though, was that you mentioned that there were supposed to be elements of racial tension in an underlying message. I wouldn't necessarily say i feel that's "lacking," but only because i haven't tasted the show with that element in it. I did actually get a little something from the news clips, but it honestly felt a lot more like a nod to the homosexual community than anything, but i also might just be thinking that way because of recent events.
All in all thank you for a thought-provoking critique but, honestly, it's between True Blood and reruns of the West Wing!

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Nov 10, 2008 1:10AM EST

I just have to add my two cents to this discussion. In terms of the racism, I thought that the use of vampire blood as a drug that vampires were hunted for, was a metaphor for the way minorities have been used in the past. For example, African Americans were used as cheap labour and treated horribly. The reasoning for this mirrors Amy's for taking the vamps blood (He is not human). Many groups of people have been used in this way, including woman (believed to be inferior and not deserving of voting) I actually see the news exerts and the discussions of vamp rights as mirroring suffrage in many ways. I think if this had been pulled too far into the main plot of the show at this point it would be seen as too political and much of its audience could have been lost. I actually appreciate the subtly in which these issues have been approached.

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Nov 10, 2008 2:05PM EST

to cecy_sleeps. i enjoyed your thought provoking and intelligently written critique of the series. i was pleased with you rebut to the grammatically challenged individual who seems to be very upset with you. however, i have to disagree with you concerning a few points.first, most of the southern accents are relatively believable. i grew up, and still live, in the southern united states. i dont believe i have heard an accent in the show i couldnt attribute to someone i know, or have known, in real life. from what i have heard and read, most people have a problem with renee's accent. having spent some time in southern louisianna i consider it to be spot on.second, the acting is not one of the worst things about the show. i will admit, sometimes i find myself thinking a few classes with brando wouldnt hurt any of the performaces but, lets be completely honest with ourselves. the acting in most wide released films and popular tv shows taken a backseat to pretty faces and sexy bodies.finally, i think the cultural and racial questions being posed by the show are significant and relative. i just think its nice that the writers are considering these ideas at all. its better than turning on the television and seeing someone drink piss for a couple bucks. and have you seen that show gossip girls? enough said.overall, i like the show and will continue watching as long as it doesnt take a second season heroes turn.

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Nov 11, 2008 2:33PM EST

Ok. I am not going to comment about the author's critique, much. All I want to add is how I look past the acting (which really bothers me sometimes, especially sam) and the obnoxiousness of some episodes and special effects; and see a great look at sexual minorities. It is difficult to find a decent show with gays, lesbians, or anything. I think show talks about issues that make people feel uncomfortable and I love True Blood for that. Also, I think Sookie is very hot and I will continue watching for her. :)

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Nov 14, 2008 5:02PM EST

cecy_sleeps,
Just wanted to comment on your critique and I'm usually a quiet lurker.
I both agree and disagree with you. I don't think the acting is quite so bad but the fake accents do rub just the wrong way.
I am a big fan of the books and I have to agree with you that the writing for the show has gone a bit downhill. There are charecters that have sprung up from nowhere, plotlines that irritate me, however nothing upset me more than this whole Vampire Tribunal episode.
The thing that makes the Southren Vampire Series so interesting is the conflict of Vampires trying to fit in with mainstream society while trying to control their behaviour of the past eons and at the same fighting for those basic human rights. True blood started off with that concept especially in the first few episodes where we saw the people on the television debating the vampire's rights to citizenship. In the books there is a group called the Fellowship of the Sun which act so similar to the KKK. Same principles but toward vampires. I think True Blood has lost a lot of that element in favour of killing for 'V' which plays only a small role in the books, mainly when we see Sookie saving Bill. In the books Lafayette is not a V dealer and Jason is not addicted. I'm still lost as to why that was put in the forefront.
Also I thought this whole Vampire Tribunal thing completely undermines the idea of an ancient society trying to change its ways to fit in. In fact in the books the elder vampires try and stop such behaviour not condone it. There wouldn't be a vampire of such authority issuing an order to change an unwilling human especially when there are so many fang bangers willing. The truth is in the books Longshadow was killed by Eric and he was given a fine to pay. Not so much drama for tv but definately something more civil and organised.
I do feel the show has taken a departure from the books and not in the best way. However with all that being said I still like the show. It has its great moments, like the scene when Sookie and Bill were parting in the parking lot. ahh that was great. I also liked how Sam revealed himself to Sookie, that was also a great scene.
I dunno. It's not so bad but not so great but I like it.

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