Weekly Binge: True Blood
True Blood's final season is approaching as fast as a sprinting vampire, and if this HBO hit series wasn't on your radar before, now is the time to catch up before it bows out for eternity this summer. Be forewarned, however; Eric and Bill will likely "glamour" you with their charms, sucking you into this sexy drama.
Here's what you need to know in order to take a bite out of True Blood.
What's the premise? Vampires and humans attempt to coexist in the small southern town of Bon Temps, LA.
What's it like? Since this show consists of various supernatural entities, you're likely to think of True Blood as an R-rated version of The Vampire Diaries or Twilight. But similar to the non-fantastic show Dexter, most seasons focus on bringing down a bad guy (or gal). So there you go; take The Vampire Diaries, add a dash of nudity, combine with the season-long (and very bloody) story arcs of Dexter, and voila!
Where can I see it? Seasons one through six are available on Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and iTunes. Past seasons are also available on HBO Go for subscribing customers, as well as HBO.com
How long will it take? The first five seasons have 12 episodes each; season six is ten episodes. That's close to 70 hours. If you're in for a challenge, it's possible to finish True Blood in a month with daily mini-binges or a few weekend marathons. Otherwise, two to three months is more reasonable. Plus that way, the final and seventh season will be over by the time you're caught up, and you can devour that all at once too.
What do the critics think? The critics have mixed feelings about this one. Seasons one and six are rotten at 56 percent and 40 percent -- while seasons two through five are all fresh at 87 percent, 94 percent, 83 percent, and 82 percent respectively. Upon its premiere, Salon.com's Heather Havrilesky wrote of season three, "True Blood plummets me into a world so dark and dirty and hilarious and unnerving that it glamours me into a placid state, then leaves me wanting more." Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker said, "Blood creator Alan Ball knows how to juggle multiple pretty people and knotty, danger-stuffed story lines for the maximum amount of breathless romance and over-the-top action" of season four.
Why should I watch this? If you're skeptical about jumping into yet another vampire story, know that this one has plenty of shape-shifters, witches, werewolves, and fairies too. More importantly, in True Blood, the vampire trope is turned on its ear by evoking modern social issues while still being a juicy guilty pleasure full of sex, camp, and gore. The cast, led by Oscar winner Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, brings a human touch to these otherworldly beings -- who also happen to be easy on the eyes. The episodes take unpredictable swerves, usually in the form of a cliffhanger ending, which makes this prime binge material.
What's my next step? If otherworldly dramas intrigue you, check out The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural on the CW Network, and also FX's three seasons of American Horror Story. To explore other shows by True Blood creator Alan Ball, try the complete series of HBO's Six Feet Under, or the current Cinemax show, Banshee. Or, if you're hungry for more Sookie Stackhouse, you can read the novels on which True Blood is based: The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.
What do you like about True Blood? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.