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

  • lucy

    “One thing that makes the show unique is showcasing several different kinds of monsters.” Um, have you seen Buffy? That fantastic show featured a much wider array of monsters, vampires, demons and other creatures years before True Blood came on the scene. I love True Blood, but it is not unique in that way, or in many others. Both Buffy and True Blood are about beautiful young blondes with supernatural powers who fall in love with a dark brooding vampire because they are the only ones who truly understand them. Both heroines end up being sexually drawn to a Blonde badboy vampire, who is a rival of the dark haired vampire. Watch Buffy, then think about how unique any of the current vampire programs, movies or books really are.

  • Nia

    I very much enjoyed your article Antonio.
    So much to consider.

    Yes mostimes the true monsters are the ones that do not look like monsters at all. They hide behind the face of an angel and fool us all till their true heart is eventually revealed.

    So we must not focus on ones appearance, because that can be deceptive, or perhaps not always even their actions, but what is in their heart and soul that defines them as monsters.

    Since we are being asked to point out some of our own percieved monsters on the show. A good example of what I mentioned above would be Rev. Steve Newlin.

    On the outside, a handsome leader and professed believer in god.

    Yet what is revealed is a twisted evil man with delusions of granduer, hell bent on killing as many of those as he can that do not fall into his deluded idea of human or worthy.

    That is evil at its best, and with the heart and soul of a true monster.

    I remember Bills comment to the young boy, that he bit, after this boy attempted to kill more vampires after the bombing at Godrics nest:

    “You tell the the cowards that lead you, the cowards that send children to do their killing, that a vampire showed mercy where they had none”.

    That is so telling in itself. A dark haunted vampire, and self professed monster, who so desparately wants to better himself, to find that bit of humanity that he so cruelly lost, to find love again.

    A monster is he?? Yes I beleive he was, and a small part of him still is, but I see him becoming so much more. He is well on his way to being better and more human than most.

    • Antonio

      Hi Nia You bring up a very good point. I,too Also thought that Steve Newlin was a “wolf in sheeps clothing” The way he turned on Jason was just awful. He And his wife were No good.
      I also thought that Luke MacDonald was also a “monster”. I did Not like what he did to Jason it may have a been a “joke” or roughhousing but Was It Really? Luke showed hhis true colors when he bombed that place where the vampires were…just hateful.

      In Twilight, It’s easy to see Who the “bad guys” are. The lines between good and bad are clearly drawn. Edward Cullen Is a Vampire,But, He is 1 of the “good guys” despite this.
      In The Lord Of the Rings, The lines between good and evil are So clearly drawn…Mordor,Mt.Doom a place of darkness,shadow
      Lothlorien,Rivendell places of light,peace protection
      Even in the Shire 2 contrasts Hobbiton, a homey place filled with greenery, flora and fauna and happy hobbits a stark contrast to the village of Bree where the character of Strider is introduced a place of Men who are imperfect and bold and are capable of many misdeeds.

      In True Blood,However, The lines are Not always so clear!
      It can be difficult to tell who is good or bad. What I find interesting is that the show makes their characters almost like life in the sense that Each character,Irregardless of “perceived monster status” has Both good and bad in them!
      I think the writers show that Each 1 is capable of being a hero Or a Villain! Each is capable of doing right Or wrong!
      I believe it was Oscar Wilde~~correct me if i’m wrong~~who said that Every man carried withinn him Both light And darkness.
      A human being is capable of Many things!
      Bill Is a vampire and yet he desires to reconnect with his former humanity…he wants to be more accepted,integrated and to become the best that he can despite the fact that he is a “monster” Sookie put it best when she said that she knew there was darkness in him and that it scared her but that she knew that there was good in him,too “From this moment on Thats All I’ll try to see!” A Very moving speech indeed!
      My point here is,That AB and the writers have produced a show where nothing is what it seems! There Are surprises and some may be a let-down or even shocking.. Ball wants to show us that appearances Can be deceiving! The Rattrays The Newlins Maxine Fortenberry and Jessica’s Father Are All Human and yet They Were the Biggest “monsters” Around! Bill Is a Vampire,Yes but That fact alone doesnt make him as such! Granted,You dont want to make him angry or upset (Miss Stackhouse certainly did that to him a lot didnt she??) But, He can be most cordial and agreeable even kind.
      I don’t really see Eric as a monster either just..misunderstood perhaps? Eric has his own inner struggles to contend with.
      Sam is definitely NOT a monster! He is kind and forthright and passionate and loyal friendly He is a “good guy”
      He practically saved Sookie’s life! She told Tara and Laffy that back at her Gran’s house “Did Sam tell you he saved my life?” He was So concerned about her and did not think twice about putting his Own neck on the line to protect her…This IS what I call Heroism In Action!
      In MY book this makes Sam a HERO Not an Anti-Hero!
      Everyone should have friends like Sam & Bill Wouldnt That Be nice??
      Of Course, In the Twilight saga its a similar pattern.
      Bella Swann has Edward AND Jacob,too who are also fiercely devoted to her and seek to protect her!
      Bill,Sam and even Eric are Not “Monsters” in My book they are capable of So much more! Sam and Bill are Heros and Even Eric has That potential I think!
      Jason,Terry and even Andy can be Also
      Sometimes,Things are Not always black & white cut and dry open and shut case Sometimes things Are complex!
      I think that Alan Ball and the writers have done a Phenomenal job in communicating This!
      Go TB! 🙂

  • JANE


  • Danielle

    a monster in my opinion is anyone who harbors hatred for a group of people without just cause. The Fellowship Of The Sun are a good example, they hate vampires and the like just because they are ignorant. In my opinion ignorant people are the true monsters because they don’t understand what its like to be different and see it as a sin

  • jaxx

    Nice article Antonio. To me, the real monsters are people like Maxine Fortenberry and even Arlene to a certain extent, who harbour prejudices and form opinions without getting to know people, like Jessica for example, before passing judgment.

    Some people think this is just a show about vampires. It goes way deeper than that. Vampires and all supes are just metaphors for social injustices and prejudices harbored by people in every day life. This show also showcases some deep issues going on in the world today, i.e., alcoholism, drug use, domestic abuse and puts to different spin on it to expose these issues and told in stories.

    This is why I love this show and CH’s books.

    • jaxx

      Oops, I mean to say “puts a different spin on them to expose these issues as told in stories”. It’s late and I’m tired, sorry.