I am pretty hooked to my small stable of TV shows this season: Heroes, Sarah Connor Chronicles; and soon, Battlestar Galactica and Lost will be starting too.

But the show I can’t get out of my mind is a new HBO show called True Blood. I hate to admit it, but yes, I am part of this national vampire frenzy – although there is much much more about this show than vampires that is interesting. To begin with, the guy behind the production is the same guy who did Six Feet Under, which means lots of sly humor, a strangely contemporary syncopated scene rhythm, smart dialogue, well-developed characters, and creative filming techniques. Secondly, the show is rests on the solid shoulders of some great acting; Anna Paquin plays the Sookie Stackhouse, the thinking girl with pert breasts and a flouncy ponytail. The other actors are strong as well – Sookie’s studly sex-crazed brother is a hoot (he dances in his underwear with a Laura Bush mask on in order to pay for his first foray with the drug, “V,” which is vampire blood). And lastly the whole thing takes place in the deep south – deep, deep south.

I find it fascinating that there is such a focus on vampires at the moment. This HBO series is based not on the Stephanie Meyer Twilight Saga, but on the best-selling (very) adult Southern Vampire Mysteries (the first one is called Dead Until Dark) by Charlaine Harris, which has been around for some years now. The Japanese have invented a synthetic blood called TruBlood, which allows vampires to come “out of the closet” and “mainstream” with regular human folk if they so choose. What ends up happening is that the vampires become a resented, feared, but decidedly powerful minority – this show deals on many levels with stereotypes and our tendency towards suspicion of the strange. The story line mostly revolves around Sookie (Paquin) and her romantic interest, who happens to be the new vampire in town. Did I mention that Sookie hears other people’s thoughts? It comes as no surprise that she is has few friends and no boyfriends as most of the time she is purely sickened by the thoughts she hears.

I don’t recommend this show for everybody, because of the blood, sex, and gore. If you wonder if this show is for you, just try watching the opening credits, which are some of the most inventive, creative opening titles I’ve ever seen. Between clips of a southern-style baptismal, a rotting fox, and a stripper’s undulating torso humping the dance floor, there are almost subliminal shots of film stock melting and burning, as if the film stock itself can’t handle the subject matter. I watch that exact same opening avidly every time and each time I catch something new. Excellent.

And don’t worry, we watch this one only when Christian is well and sound asleep!

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