Vampires and Shapeshifters … Monsters?

April 2, 2010 by  

HBO’s seriesTrue Blood” has been able to bring  monsters such as vampires and shapeshifters to life, and by putting their a unique spin on the story,  has attempted to engender compassion and tolerance for this all but marginalized group.

What I and so many others find so fascinating  about the show is that it may also be a treatise on relationships. A prime example would be Bill Compton. He is struggling to hold onto some part of his former humanity, and yet, he is still a vampire; a predator in search of blood . He greatly desires to become a better “man” for his beloved Sookie but he attacked her great uncle Bartlett. Another example is shown in episode three of season one, entitled  “Mine,” when Sookie shows up at Bill’s house uninvited and sees another side of Bill. A much darker, more predatory side of him.  Sookie knows that he is a vampire. She may not like it or understand it, but she accepts it because she loves him.

One thing that makes the show unique is showcasing several different kinds of monsters.  To date, viewers have seen vampires, shapeshifters, maenads and zombies,  like Eggs Talley, who was under  the manipulative persuasion of Maryann. There certainly has been a plethora of monsters and also humans who behaved like monsters. The Rattrays in the first episode of the series are perfect examples of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. I particularly thought that this was a powerful storyline. The writers demonstrated to us that  although Bill Compton is a vampire, the real monsters were  Mack and Denise Rattray, who were human.

Another good example is Sam Merlotte, owner of the local bar and grill, and a shapeshifter. He is, by all accounts, a monster, a freak, but after he helped save Sookie’s life,She told him that he should let everyone know how special he is. She said, “With you, there’s not much not to love.” One has to wonder sometimes just how these guys endure things like loneliness, isolation and feeling like there is no one with whom they can commiserate with about their particular situations. One of the things which  I find to be thought provoking here is that the writers leave  it up to the viewers  to decide who the monsters are.

What also intrigued me was in the midst of all of the local murders, no one seemed to be above suspicion. Although it seemed like Jason Stackhouse was a prime suspect in the killings, the police also kept an eye on Bill, thinking that because he was a vampire, he must have had something to do with it. For a brief moment, it appeared that  Sam or maybe even Andy might be the killer. This is what great writing is all about.  Holding the viewer’s interest and keeping them captivated.  The real killer was not one of the “perceived monsters” but  a man who worked with Jason and was insanely prejudiced against vampires and anyone who had something to do with them.

It’s quite obvious that Bill struggles with his primal vampire instincts. He desires to evolve beyond what he has become, but he is still a vampire. I think that Sam also struggles with who and what  he is and how he feels others may perceive  him. Bill made a very lucid point when he told Sookie in one episode of season one, that she couldn’t go through life being afraid of what she did not understand.  I think that this is a powerful argument for those whom society would also reject, as no one wants to be seen as a “freak” or “outcast” just because they happen to be different.   Bill and Sam may not be typical folks but that does not make them “monsters.”

Who in the series do YOU think are monsters? Please let us know your views in the comments section below.

Photo credit: HBO

Screen Capture: James

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