The show descended into personal drama plays and, since it is on HBO, lots and lots of sex. Instead of wondering about the ramifications of having a vampire in office, I was wondering about the mechanics of vampire sex. Instead of considering the impact this would have on life insurance policies, I was wondering why the sclera of the vampire's eye was white since supposedly the only bodily fluid inside them is blood. And though in a way those would be good questions since I am a skeptic and feel that if you're going to dive straight into a mythological world it should have rules, they were answered in full by vampire Bill Compton within the first few episodes.
He calls it "magic." And then points out that Sookie's physiology is also run by "magic."
Way to swiftly answer every question, Bill.
I can see why the writers of the show were forced to do this. When you really stop to think about vampires, they don't make any sense, and I guess the best way to distract viewers from that fact is to wave a string in front of them. A Magic string.
But doing this ignores the larger picture, and I don't mean that paranormal shows are stupid or pointless or that they don't fulfill a need. They raise interesting moral questions (if done properly), and create worlds where we must all abide by a different set of rules than normal – where situations that test our ethics are constantly raised. But you might lose sight of that in this series, which prefers to focus instead on the fact that human beings who drink vampire blood will have the same results as if they took a combination of Viagra and Ecstasy.
So, yes, if the point of the show is to delve straight into tropes about vampires and the standard questions that come with them (Does Sookie have to become a vampire too? What happens if she cuts her finger by accident?) then well done. If the point was commentary on racism, well, massive fail.
And now that we're on the subject of vampires, we can talk facts as well.
According to a poll by Fox News
, 4% of the population believes in vampires
. That may pale (ha-ha) in comparison to a belief in, say, astrology, which ranks in with 37% belief, and yet part of me believes the vampire percentage should be the most disturbing of all.
According to Wikipedia, the process of exhuming bodies to "kill vampires" was first noted by Austrian officials in 1725
. When a grave was opened, a vampire could be recognized by its purple, bloated appearance as well as longer hair, teeth, nails, open eyes, and the fact that blood was coming out of its mouth. Keep in mind that this is a corpse.
Amy Corwin, a mystery writer who collected information on the decay of the human body for story research, cites a few case studies on her site that break down the appearance of a human body into a timeline. Bloating, according to the site, begins on day two. But, depending upon the conditions of burial, can last much longer. During this period, the eyes can bulge out
As the skin decays, it recedes and the hair, teeth, and nails become more prominent, with the appearance of being longer
And, before embalming, it surely isn't impossible to think of a corpse's blood running from every orifice available. Corpses can also moan, grumble, and shift.
This sounds totally revolting, but it's factual – not only that, but well-understood facts. Where is that 4% of the population coming from?
There are explanations for the "classic" Bram Stoker style vampire as well. Porphyria
, solar uticaria
, xeroderma pigmentosum
, and on and on and on... And let's face it, stake anyone in the heart and they're going to die.
TRUE BLOOD: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
SKEPTICAL FURTHER READING: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach