Breaking news: a fading television show lumbering through its final season makes a desperate bid for attention by creating a “controversy.” Such was the plan when the silly, but once-upon-a-time entertaining, HBO vampire show “True Blood” unleashed its writers’ inner demons with some uncalled-for Republican-bashing, which went as far as one character using some straight-up War on Women rhetoric to dismiss conservative women attending a fictitious Ted Cruz appearance as “Republi-c**ts.”
In the show, a team of Yakuza hit men (don’t ask) proceeds to murder everyone at the event, which was supposed to strike the jaded audience as entertaining. None of that is any surprise coming from the network that still gives Bill Maher a show. He’s no stranger to the exact same insult Vampire Pam deployed.
It’s not good for a TV network when the supposedly uptight squaresville Republican politician they insulted turns out to be far wittier and more entertaining than the writers of the show. Ted Cruz knocks a fastball right through the astonished faces of “True Blood’s” writers on his Facebook page:
Of all the places I never thought to be mentioned, HBO’s True Blood vampire show would have to be near the top of the list. Sunday night, they aired a misogynist and profanity-ridden episode where Texas Republicans are murdered attending a “Ted Cruz fundraiser.”
Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends….
Now that’s funny, no matter who you are.
I’ve watched “True Blood” since the beginning, and thought it was lots of trashy fun in the early years. It’s unfortunate that it so quickly drifted away from the original books, and the core idea of a freelance detective solving mysteries in a supernatural world where vampires have gone public. You would think such a premise sturdy enough to hang several seasons of television upon, but no, things went so far afield that the main character is basically a sullen afterthought in her own adventures now.
The idea of vampires going “mainstream” is clever, and so are a number of the quirks brought to vampire mythology by the show, such as the notion of vampire blood serving as a highly addictive drug for humans – a nifty inversion of the predator-and-prey dynamic. But the basic conceit of the setting, above and beyond everything else it does, is to use vampires as a metaphor for gays coming out of the closet, to deliver lectures about prejudice and tolerance. And this very conceit has grown increasingly absurd as the series went on, and took itself more seriously, because vampires are monsters.
It’s not just that vampires drink blood to survive – that’s a problem solved in the backstory of the show by the creation of the eponymous True Blood, a synthetic beverage that allows vampires to survive without eating people. The problem is that “True Blood’s” vampires are superhuman killing machines, and nearly every vampire character on the show is a fairly casual murderer, with few qualms about offing either humans or each other. Among other things, vampires have murdered newscasters in the middle of national news broadcasts, and slaughtered the sitting governor of Louisiana (oddly enough, not Bobby Jindal, but I guess the writers still had some sense of decorum back then.)
Even the “hero” characters on the show have killed people left and right, and not just with relatively painless bites on the neck. They’ve killed people they were mildly annoyed at. The older vampires are even more powerful… and more amoral, more generally inclined to see human beings as flies to be swatted. They’re openly contemptuous at the idea of respecting human law. The notion that suspicious behavior towards these Undead-Americans is tantamount to blind prejudice is absurd on its face.
But the show continues to treat “intolerance” as the ultimate sin – even among vampires, the whiff of judgementalism is what separates the “good guys” from the “bad guys.” The people viewed with such dripping contempt by vampires Eric and Pam at the Ted Cruz event were a bunch of polite, well-dressed folks having a cocktail party; they didn’t do or say anything that would invite verbal abuse, much less their callous murder. The show treated them as disposable jerks because of their implied willingness to pass judgment on people who aren’t like them.
Which is, of course, exactly what both the vampires and “True Blood” writers have done. They stand revealed as far more bigoted and hateful than the people they sneer at. It would have been far more amusing to put the vampires at a Democrat rally and have them make the same wisecrack Cruz made about amateur bloodsuckers. (For that matter, Eric is supposed to be a thousand-year-old Viking warrior, he used to be a law-enforcement officer in the vampire hierarchy, and he’s a small businessman who owns a nightclub. Not a drop of sympathy for the party of self-reliance and entrepreneurs, huh?) A better-written show would have fun with its inherent contradictions, and delight in skewering the pretensions of its marquee characters. Too bad HBO didn’t invite someone as sharp as Ted Cruz to punch up their scripts before “True Blood” limps out to pasture.