Is it a dark satire, and if so, can someone please explain what it is that True Blood is satirizing anymore, now that we’ve covered America, religion, homosexuality, the media, rednecks, hippies, the word “Sookie”
Or is True Bloodjust a Dark Shadows soap opera, with the occasional pithy line acknowledging its own goofiness or “culturally relevant” plot development (“Now we have our own Smoke Monster…from Iraq!” - this show), attempting to keep viewer numbers up on a program that directly precedes The Newsroom?
Last Friday, I ran into Christopher Meloni at the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man. As I professed how much I loved him on this season of True Blood—which is not a total lie, because I definitely don’t hate the character of Roman yet, so that’s as close as I get to loving anything on this show anymore—I asked where he drew his inspiration from when playing the leader of The Authority: basically the Pope and president of all vampires. It was strange, didn’t he think, that Roman’s ideas about peaceful co-existence with humans (“mainstreaming”) involved such severe torture and murder to root out any defectors among his own kind? Alan Ball was usually so bludgeningly obvious with his metaphors, but The Authority truly has us stumped: were they a warning of what would happen if even liberalism is taken too far in this country? Or was it about religious hypocrisy? Is this show even trying to be an analogy for gay rights anymore?
Before the cameras begin rolling, Skarsgård walks up to his mark in the center of the room, Moyer kneels in front of him—his character is picking something up off the ground when the shot begins—and the director watches them from his chair in front of a camera monitor. While waiting in their places, Skarsgård looks down at his costar and says dryly, “It looks like he’s sucking me off,” to which Moyer responds by bobbing his head vigorously. Skarsgård closes his eyes and starts moaning with the intensity of a slash-fiction hero, after which Moyer stands up and wipes imaginary fluids from his mouth with the back of his hand. He scans the crowd and after taking a slight bow says, “And the Emmy goes to…
“Use your phone and shine a light over here,” says Alexander Skarsgård, whose indefinitely appropriated Southern twang echoes off the walls inside one of the many vast stages at Hollywood Center Studios in Los Angeles. It’s True Blood’s final day of production before the show’s annual hiatus (they’ll reconvene in November for season five), and the near-empty lot we’ve been wandering feels like a schoolhouse abandoned by its students for the summer. Most of the cast and crew have driven out to Malibu this afternoon to film the pyre-heavy final scene of the HBO series’ fourth season, but Skarsgård and his costar Stephen Moyer have been directed here to re-shoot a close-up. “Follow me,” he says as we edge closer to the darkest part of the hangar-size room.
“I wish I could find a fucking light switch,” he adds, before eventually flipping one. The chamber we’re in—done up like a dank basement with black columns and intimations of evil—suddenly becomes awash in the glow of overhead lights. “This is where I tortured Lafayette,” he says with a satisfied grin, referring to the show’s second season, in which his character Eric Northman, the sheriff of Area 5, chained Nelsan Ellis’ drug-abusing, cross-dressing fry cook to a post. He waves me through another door into what looks like a nightclub filled with barstools, dusty liquor bottles, and a poster of a vampiric George W. Bush. “Welcome,” he says with exaggerated gravitas, “to Fangtasia!”