Every Sunday, for about two months out of the year, I ask myself why I’m still watching True Blood. In its seventh and final season now, the show has run through the gamut of plotlines, love connections, and cliffhangers, it’s essentially borrowing from itself at this point, and there’s certainly not enough quality material in the show to merit recycling.
Still, I kept at it. For the past seven years I have watched beautiful people with a range of southern accents (some more authentic than others) confront supernatural forces in a rather lovably coarse manner.
There was nothing particularly revolutionary about True Blood when it premiered in 2008. It was riding the coattails of the success of the supernatural romance genre that seemed to be sweeping America (its women especially). Other than it’s proclivity for showing bare breasts (a willingness that HBO’s Game Of Thrones has more than matched) at surface level, it’s difficult to say what made True Blood so compelling.
Borrowing some elements from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer with a Lynchian affect, True Blood was a wonderfully irreverent twist on the recently popularized genre that gave us saccharinely sincere (and poorly developed) works like Twilight. Though each season technically had a “big bad” that Sookie, the ostensibly endearing but occasionally irritating telepathic heroine, had to defeat, the beauty of early True Blood was how much darkness the people of Bon Temps wrought upon themselves.
The first two seasons of the show especially conveyed that dynamic well, using some threatening paranormal entity to showcase the potential for wickedness this otherwise Puritanical southern town has. The introductory seasons also used the struggle for vampires to assimilate (“come out of the coffin,” as it were) as a bit of a distant allegory for the issue of LGBTQ rights, which allowed the show to occupy a more relevant space.
Unfortunately, things got a little murky around season three, when writers decided to introduce werewolves, werepanthers, a villainous vampire “King” and faeries. Just writing all of that out prompted me to roll my eyes and put my palm to my forehead in utter exasperation. The show continued to dovetail from there, providing a mildly interesting plotline about witches in season four before coming back around to the conspiratorial and corrupt vampire political network (known as the Authority) and other intensely boring mumbo-jumbo about Sookie’s faerie heritage.
In its seventh season, it’s clear True Blood is still floundering, so far away from the deliciously nasty show it used to be, but there are still snatches of its former glory to be found.
Moments with Eric and Pam, former owners of Bon Temp’s vampire club Fangtasia, with their apathetic penchant for self-preservation, provide hints of the moral ambiguity that made the show so great in the first place. Flashbacks to their entrepreneurship at a depressingly bleak video store portray Skarsgard and Bauer van Straten nicely as the acidic dynamic duo we know and love. And the way Bauer van Straten’s Pam says the word “fuck”—well, there’s an art to it.
Season seven proves that the writers are still able to tackle more than surface-level fucking and fighting. Lafayette’s heated question to Jessica in episode 5, “Has it occurred to you that Lafayette, that Queen that makes all you white heterosexuals laugh and feel good about yourselves, has it fucking ever occurred to you that maybe I want a piece of happiness too?” seems to reflect as a meta commentary on how absent his character has been for the past few seasons, as well as an aside about the way television treats queer characters.
While it’s hard not to view True Blood as a bit of a slog through the Louisiana swamp at this point, moments like these recall nostalgia for the mildly trashy intelligence that the show started off with. Despite my grievances, I have felt a strange commitment to see this thing through—though I can likely attribute that attachment to my very real love for Alexander Skarsgard. I’m glad to have stuck it out to the end.
And so, I don’t say goodbye to True Blood with a handkerchief and a tear, nor with a shove and a grimace—but perhaps, with the weary smile and hand waggle of someone whose good friend has overstayed their welcome. Peace out, Trubez. It’s been real.