True Blood has always offered viewers many reasons to tune in, from a quirky ensemble cast to a little bit of camp and exciting supernatural plotlines. The show’s main issue throughout the years, however, has always been one of consistency. With episodes offering numerous plotlines woven together, these episodes haven’t always been able to mesh to create one exciting whole. While the ensemble cast capably highlights a lot of differences between different supernatural communities in Louisiana, there are usually one or two plots that trump the others in any given episode. Luckily, with early previews focusing on an upcoming war between the human and vampire populations, Season 6 initially seemed to have more of a main theme than what fans were privy to a year ago.
Episode 1 (“Who Are You Really?) offered a great start. Bill rose from the dead as a godlike figure with extended powers, and the war between humans and vampires that had begun a’brewing in Season 5 finally fanged its way to the front and center of the larger narrative. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sookie, her brother and her fairy grandfather started looking for Warlow (a plotline which was also teased last year). The episode was everything I looked for in an hour of television: sharp, witty, and most of all, cleverly crafted. It seemed as if True Blood may have finally figured out that perfect balance between quirk and forward momentum, which would have been a hell of a feat considering the HBO favorite lost showrunner Alan Ball and was given less episodes to work with this time around.
Unfortunately, the awe and excitement proved to be a little premature. After three episodes, the focus of the show has gotten even wider, particularly during tonight’s “You’re No Good.” Between a scared Steve Newlin, dead fairies, gun ranges, kidnappings and the aforementioned battle between humans and other supernatural life in Louisiana, the action has gotten chaotic. It’s difficult to focus on Eric and his new arm candy when we are forced to deal with Sam trying to play the hero with little Emma, as well as the first real romance we’ve seen from Sheriff Bellefleur and Holly since she left him.
True Blood’s greatest strength, its quirky characters, has turned into a major crutch. The show has introduced fans to so many dynamic characters that it’s impossible to care about all of them, even though we are asked to do so week in and week out. Instead of offering the Dr. Spaceman’s and David Puddy’s of the world, who provide comic relief or at least pop up in the right moments, fans are asked to care about full plotlines that are subservient to the best moments hitting our television on Sunday nights. Sure, it was cute to see the Sheriff and Holly shooting guns together; the two are likeable and made for one another. However, should we really give a shit about this when Eric has the governor’s daughter holed up in a coffin? The obvious answer is no. But at this point, the Sheriff has become too important to allow him to just pop in and out of the plot a couple of times a season.
In a perfect world, every episode would be like “Who Are Your Really?” Every episode would offer a mindblowing premise with great dialogue and undertones speaking to present-day social commentary. I’m not asking for a perfect world. I’m just asking for True Blood to start cutting out some of the crap and start leaving room for its best moments to shine. Somewhere in this TV program there is a show that’s a commentary on issues that minority communities have faced in this country. Somewhere in the show, there are nods to the fun and relevant storylines Charlaine Harris put together for her series of southern vampire novels. I used to watch True Blood because it was fascinating and intricate—a glut of fantasy utterly unlike anything else I could watch on TV. With wilder and braver programs on television and even on HBO, now, True Blood doesn’t offer me that wow factor, anymore. With some work, it still could.
A war between supernatural creatures and humans is clearly the best idea the show has come up with in years and I really want True Blood to harness that potential. First, it will have to kill some of its idols, and I’m not sure the writers have the foresight or fortitude to know where to begin, anymore.
New episodes of HBO’s True Blood air Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET.