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Recently a friend recommended I check out True Blood. It’s based off of The Southern Vampire Series, which is a group of very fun (and funny) books, but I did not enjoy the series based on it nearly as much. I’ve never been a fan of Alan Ball (Six Feet Under was, to me, just a group of jerks acting like jerks) and Bill the vampire (played by Stephen Moyer) always looks like a squinty homeless person. Anna Paquin, while great in The Piano and substantial in X-Men, has a horrible southern accent (really, why is it so hard for actors to do a convincing Southern accent? Or Irish accent? Or “Bostonian” accent? Richard Gere and Kevin Costner, I’m glaring at both of you) and for the most part, stares off into space like she’s on Quaaludes. So, I guess I’m not a fan?

But True Blood’s popularity got me to thinking. On the outside, True Blood is very different from Twilight, but both of them are similar in the way that the vampire is introduced as a dangerous, therefore ultimately attractive, persona. But this popular idea of the vampire must be presented in a certain way, or it fails completely. While many might think that vampires in general are popular, not all vampire shows/books/etc have the same intense success. What about Moonlight, Blood Ties, or (let’s go way back!) Kindred: The Embraced? These three shows had the same basic premise in the fact that they all had very sexy vampires sending smoldering glances to their female leads. But while some (Blood Ties) were better than others (Moonlight), none of these shows generated the same popularity as both Twilight and True Blood. Why?

My opinion is that shows such as Blood Ties and Moonlight suffered from Good Guy Syndrome and that simply Is Not In Style. In both TV series, the vampire-male protagonists live relatively “good” lives and commit relatively “good” deeds. These vampires live within the confines of human-designed morality. They have “human jobs,” abstain from hunting “innocents” and even help solve crimes when they have the time (Mick St. John ((Moonlight)) is a PI and Henry ((True Blood)) is an unofficial partner of PI Vicki Nelson). These vampires are looking for atonement (anyone remember Forever Knight?), and maybe audiences think that’s kind of boring.

So Twilight and True Blood really hark back to the “ancient days” of Gothic romance, where heroes were not conflicted good guys trying to make wrongs right, but of men who are overcome by a “mood” that is past human conception. This “mood” is a bestial component that makes them capable of going past the boundary of our moral structures. This plays into the new lore of the vampire. He is not ruled by society, but by his passion and his desires. And what’s sexier than that?

I’ll tell you: a convincing Southern accent. Paquin.

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