True Blood and Twilight: Horror or Love Story

December 15, 2009 by  

Bill-Sookie-bathrobeFrom the recent vampire sensation two stories seem to dominate popular culture:  True Blood and Twilight.  Characters like Bill Compton and Edward Cullen seem to be all the rage these days.  Obviously, both these stories are set up to appeal to a different target audience, but one thing is certain, they are set to stay.  People can’t get enough of all of the vampire fascination going on or is it an obsession?  What with the onslaught of books, films and television shows it seems that this particular craze is here to stay for a while.

HBO‘s True Blood a series based on the Sookie Stackhouse books penned by Charlaine Harris and the Twilight series is written by Stephenie Meyer and from which two films have been based and have caused quite a stir among fans.  Are these series horror or love stories?  Perhaps a little bit of both?  What exactly draws these fans in?  What is it that they find so utterly charming and irresistible?   Are these programs/films more like Dracula or Weathering Heights?   I suppose that there are some who find the mixture of horror and eroticism quite tantalizing.   I think the key to this fascination may go even deeper than that.  It is my thought that both of these stories fill some sort of psycho-social need.  Another reason might be that many have a desire to be deeply loved or to love more deeply themselves.

Let’s look at some of the similarities and some of the differences of these two white-hot franchises.   Both are stories involving love with a vampire. Both are stories where alternate worlds are revealed where these undead gents exist.  In both stories there are other creatures who co-exist with the vampires, most of the time not peacefully.  While there are  elements of horror and violence in both stories there are also elements of love, hope, diversity and the belief in both oneself and others.  I think that both True Blood and Twilight bring about a message of hope and love and perhaps forgiveness that is both inspiring and provocative. Bill Compton and Edward Cullen are troubled, brooding anti-hero types looking for compassion, tolerance and a chance to redeem themselves. Both are trying to evolve beyond what they have become. Both of these gents have experienced an awakening to love and want so desperately to hold onto it. As with the characters of Sam Merlotte and Jacob Black, both of these guys can be fiercely loyal and protective with those who are dear to them. Both of these guys are different as well as they are shapeshifters and they too are searching for compassion, tolerance and a chance to set things right. As in both series there are good and bad vampires neither Bill nor Edward want anything to do with these bad ones.   Neither Sam nor Jacob are openly aggressive or violent.  They do not hunt or kill, they just use their strength to protect those who are dear to them or just for survival.  When it comes to all of these men they actually come off looking like anti-heros as opposed to “monsters”.

Bill-sookie-togetherAnd then there are the gals. Sookie Stackhouse and Bella Swan. Both of these leading ladiess seem to be totally enamored with their undead men and think nothing of endangering their own lives to defend them, not to mention become seriously involved with them.   Perhaps its not Romeo and Juliet or Weathering Heights   But, its not all gore and suggestive content either.  Twilight may seem somewhat tame as compared to True Blood, but there is still a fair amount of tension and apprehension and most certainly ambivalence.  These may be stories may be classified as horror stories, but they are also stories about love,  devotion, loyalty and hope and faith.   True Blood isn’t so much a show about nudity, violence and adult content as it is about hope, love, diversity, acceptance, tolerance and perhaps forgivness and seeking some form of redemption.  Neither Bill nor Edward command love from their ladies, in fact they try to dissuade them from it.  Jacob  patrols the woods and area surrounding Forks, WA with his wolfpack seeking to protect those they care for and any innocent people from vampire attack. Sam has a job to do, too.  He runs the local bar and grill and he considers his customers as friends, perhaps even family.  He also can be quite loyal and protective of those he cares for.  He has learned to utilize his special skill for his survival, not unlike Jacob Black.

A horror story?  Yes. A love Story? Yes.  Perhaps an eclectic blend of both? Possibly what draws these fans in to both of these series is that they are not merely stories about monsters, but rather stories about characters not wanting to be seen as such.   I think that both Sookie and Bella are able to see this in their men.

(Photo credits:  HBO Inc., screencaps by James)