I was one of thousands (maybe millions? Don't really know, not a big numbers kind of gal) who tuned into HBO on September 7, 2008 to check out their newest offering, True Blood. I'd never read the books by Charlaine Harris (The Southern Vampire Mysteries) that the series was based on. My mother had, was both enamored and impressed so that's all I was basing it on. I'm willing to give any and all versions of Vamps a solid chance but few live up to the standard by which I hold them to; namely Anne Rice's Vampires in general, but Lestat "Brat Prince" de Lioncourt, in particular.
That first hour long episode, titled Strange Love, flew by and by the time those end credits rolled, I was intrigued. Enough to tune in the following week. By the end of that episode, I had decided that while I wasn't ready for a long term relationship, I was willing to make it more than a one night stand. I was falling into heavy "like". So much so that I made for our local Barnes and Noble and bought all the SVM books out at the time and greedily consumed them.
Like begat Love. Love begat Fervent Obsession. I was hooked like back alley crackhead on meth. Only this addiction was far more socially acceptable and I could keep my teeth.
Now, this is where things get tricky and where fans of the show and fans of the books are tossed into the gladiator Pit to viciously maul each other into submission. Nos, qui parum pudici lamia, et torqueri fama lineas salutant. (Those of us who love sexy vampires and twisted story lines salute you.)
I'm not saying who's wrong or right. I can't. This isn't a question that has a definitive answer one way or another. And maybe I'm just a different breed of cat but I love BOTH equally. True story.
It's like having a weird sapiogastic relationship where you're shagging a set of twins and neither knows. You've got the muscled, tongue bath worthy twin who is all about hooking you visually with sleek good looks and dangerous charm, with a goodly dose of witty intelligence via interesting thoughts, actions and consequences (the show) and then there's the twin who's a bit more serious, aiming to show you the layered depths and world that reside inside of it (the books) just as compelling but a bit more friendly than its darker sibling.
As a writer, I'm fully aware that certain things, while fanfuckingtastic on the page, don't always translate neatly or fluidly onto the screen. What grinds my gears are the hard core book purists who have called for Ms. Harris's and Mr. Ball's blood over it. Some say Lady Charlaine sold out when the series came about. Others accuse Lord Ball of bastardizing the books so severely that there is no redemption.
I say ....Garth, your pills? Seriously, simmer down now.
I adore Ms. Harris's books. I've read all the SVM several times over. I have laughed, cried, raged, growled, shouted out, gasped and blinked at the plot twists she slips in. I have hurt, ached, keened, longed for and loved all her characters, even the bad guys or the minor players. I generally finish each novel feeling I know the inhabitants of Bon Temp a bit better, so much so that I feel as if I could just pick up the phone and phone Merlotte's or Fangtasia just to shoot the shiz with Sam or Pam. *see what I did there?*
I feel the exact same about the show. It's allowed different avenues to be explored and envisioned. It's given a bit of longevity and substance to the books that, for me, actually ENHANCE them when I reread them. The screen translation has surprised me a few times when I thought I knew where it was going because of the book and then....
My jaw is on the floor, my Mom and I are screeching at the screen and my fingers are already texting my besties with the WTF moment.
I was bummed when I finished the last SVM. Did it end the way I had wished it would? No. But then again, and what I think a lot of people forgot, is that these creations, these characters, these living, breathing beings were born from the amazing, talented mind of Charlaine. She, despite mass fan grumbling and bitching via social networking, ended HER books the way SHE wanted, the way SHE had envisioned from the very beginning. Gods bless her for it. Because guess what? That world was born in her, it begins and ends, in her heart. She didn't write for Joe Blow down the road, or Betty Bitchenmoan (OMFG...I AM YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN!) ....
She wrote it for herself first and foremost. If you're reading this and you're a writer, you know what I mean. I'm hardly going to villify her for that.
As for the show, I'm sad its ending but at the same time, nothing lasts forever. The show gave us SO much that the books did NOT. Lafayette for starters. He dies by the end of Book One and I can't picture Bon Temps without him..that sassy bitch! We met the Vampire Authority (c'mon...Roman! Dieter! Salome! The red headed chick who looked just like Sharon Osborne and whose name I can't remember!)...they were bad ass. Luna! Bilith (which although pretty campy, did provide some interesting moments). Andy Bellefleur, whom I didn't much care for in the book, has evolved into a really compelling character.
So, here we are, old friends, on the last season of a show, whether you love or hate it, has made a social and cultural impact on every one who watches it. I cried when I read the very last lines of Dead Ever After:
“But I also knew that if he turned away from me at this moment, somehow I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish like the yard that still bloomed and grew around my family home.
I'm Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here.”
And I already know I'm going to cry when the last episode airs in a few more weeks. It's the end of an era. But, for me, like my beloved Author Goddess, Anne Rice, because of the books AND the show, I will never forget True Blood.
And whether you love it or hate, neither will you.