True Blood is a guilty pleasure for me. Not because it’s aimed a bit more at women than men (though it’s definitely not a “girly” show), but because I can’t honestly say it’s a good show. It’s not bad either.
It’s just… silly.
I first realized it during season two, when the wave of hedonism inspired by Maryann, a Maenad, led to a lot of forced comedy from the writers. The bug-eyed, horny redneck schtick got old fast, but it wasn’t until Lafayette yelled “Listen up, bitches!” to a crowd of blood-thirsty citizens that I realized how dumb this was.
While Lafayette is a funny character, his humor became drier and smarter by the second season. This ham-fisted attempt at comedy emphasized how over-the-top the Maenad saga was. I realize these scenes were justified by Maryann’s spell over the town, but the writers should’ve realized the humor wasn’t working.
I almost quit watching after that. But I came back for season three, with it’s nude werewolves, an infamous sex-scene between Eric and Talbot, the ultra-campy King Russell, and possibly Bill Compton’s worst line ever (“We fucked like only two vampires can”).
The epitome of True Blood silliness came early in the new season: Bill Compton’s British punk phase. Not only does it seem out of character for the aristocratic vampire, he looks and sounds completely ridiculous. Speaking of Bill, is Stephen Moyer even trying to do the accent anymore?
The effects add to the show’s silliness. I know you can’t be too hard on TV shows when it comes to special effects due to their budgets, but things like the big black eyes in Season 2 or Bill Compton and the Queen’s anti-gravity fight in Season 3’s cliffhanger really derail the tension and drama. And don’t get me started on the goblin-like fairies.
The same goes for the acting. Most of the actors are at least competent, but it doesn’t make the vampires’ hissing less corny or the weird “southern” accents less odd.
So why do I keep watching?
It’s still a solid story. I care what happens next, the vampire politics interest me, the action is exciting and the characters are (usually) likable. There’s also a lot of grey area that makes you question a character’s motives and actions. The show’s silly, but it has a good plot and is so damn enjoyable.