True Blood is one of the more complicated shows for me to consider as an adaptation because of my mixed feelings towards the show.
True Blood is interesting to consider in terms of adaptation because of how it has developed season after season. Adapted from Charlene Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries, True Blood follows the introduction of Sookie Stackhouse, the mind reading waitress, to the world of vampires, werewolves and shape shifters, and her budding romance with the vampire, Bill Compton. In its first series True Blood is engaging and produces an almost carbon copy of the first book, Dead Before Dark, on screen with an excellent choice of costuming, settings and atmosphere. The casting of the show is certainly on point, with each actor taking on the persona of the character they are playing with gusto and dedication. Anna Paquin and real life husband Stephen Moyer (the two met on the set of True Blood) play Sookie and vampire Bill brilliantly, with undeniable chemistry. Paquin radiates southern charm with a backbone and a bite, and Moyer is so convincing as Bill that I always find it striking when I hear him talking in interviews in his actual British accent, as opposed to Bill’s southern drawl. Similarly Alexander Skarsgård is compelling as the Viking vampire Eric with a complicated past.
But series two is where True Blood starts to change, deviating from its source material, and its where I think that the show starts to lose some of what made it so special in the beginning. While the character of Lafayette is entertaining and engaging, in choosing not to kill him off at the start of the second series of the show, I think that the show makers made a big mistake. They’ve had to create alternate storylines for him that fit into the world but I don’t feel that they’ve been successfully integrated, they feel like they’ve been shoehorned into a space that doesn’t quite fit. Instead, the writers have created problems for themselves in terms of using the novels as source material for the show, because as they deviate and manipulate the main storylines within the novels to allow space for his character, changes are inevitably made which impact on events integral to future storylines. Similarly, the expansion of the character of Tara is disruptive, as she changes from a fringe character to one of the central characters in the show. I can understand why, as they are played by excellent actors, Nelson Ellis and Rutina Wesley respectively, and at first I was delighted at the inclusion of them. However, each change has a knock on effect, detrimental to plots far further down the line.
Additionally, for me, post season three, True Blood simply went off track, beyond a level of strange which I can reconcile with my own mental image of the characters and the world. I know many people who love the show, but for me, the further away from the original stories included in Harris’ novels, the less I liked the show. Maybe that has something to do with how compelling I found the books when I read them years before the TV series, but for me, the TV show was at its best in the first season.