Writing about the series debut of True Blood in 2008, I wrote, “True Blood is more than Buffy with bare breasts, but is seems much more mundane than I would have expected from someone who said Near Dark was his favorite vampire movie (it's mine, too).” At the end of that first season, I gave the show a B+.
Catching up on Season Two: “Anna Paquin takes off her clothes at the drop of an Oscar, vampires like blood, some humans like vampire blood and others like vampire sex (and some like both), the sex and violence are surrounded by the kind of hilarious dialogue you might get from a road-company version of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, and everyone’s accent is different. I really like True Blood, even though its occasional pretentions to being about something aren’t worth much of our time. Michelle Forbes is a regular now, which is always nice. Really, what’s not to like, here?” I ended up giving it another B+, saying “it also takes care of all those things the pre-show warning announcements mention … plenty of violence, nudity, sexual situations, and extreme language, or however they put it.”
Midway through Season Three, “I stand by my opinion that True Blood is a show that lazily allows the context of vampire mythology to create the illusion of depth in a series that is about titillation above all else. It’s a highly-entertaining show, one of my favorites. But it’s entertaining because of the shock value and violence-instilled titillation, not in spite of it.” (I also wondered if Pauline Kael would have liked the show.)
A year later, I said “True Blood gets stupider every season, but I must say, they went out with a bang this time around.” I gave the season finale an A, the season as a whole a B (“I guess I haven’t yet reached the point where my eye rolling overcomes the entertainment value”).
I wrote of the Season Five finale, “it will always have lots of beautiful men and women getting nekkid and having sex, and it will always have lots of vampire gore, and thus, it will always be worth watching, even or perhaps especially because in the end, it’s not worth watching. True Blood is a superb example of enjoyable junk.” The season grade had fallen to a B-.
And so to Season Six. I gave the premiere a B+, even though it was same old, same old. This was the first season without creator Alan Ball, and I can’t say I noticed much of a difference. There were fewer episodes (apparently part of the work-around due to Anna Paquin having twins last September … among other things, she didn’t start doing her usual nude scenes until about halfway through the season). Some interesting guest actors turned up: Rutger Hauer, Arliss Howard, Pruitt Taylor Vince. The central “PLEASE NOTICE OUR SUBTEXT” plot, which had humans and vampires going to the brink against each other, was entertaining in its own right (and, as in earlier seasons, all the stuff about shifters, werewolves, and faeries was far more dreary). The usual suspects delivered, as actors (Alexander Skarsgård, Chris Bauer, Deborah Ann Woll) and as eye candy (Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten, Alexander Skarsgård, Joe Manganiello, Deborah Ann Woll). Skarsgård even managed to get a full-frontal nude scene in the last episode, a timely occurrence given the funny stuff on the Internet lately about the lack of dongs on HBO. Season Six was as good as any other season. and I’ve repeated myself on that general topic so many times that there’s no need to say more than I did in the above quotes. Grade for season finale: A-. Grade for Season Six: B.