The Book Versus the Show

I have managed to fall even further behind in Mad Men, so I am officially giving up on Season 4 until the DVDs come out. Boo on me.

In the interim, I decided on the basis of many recommendations to start watching True Blood, which (in theory at least) is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

I say “in theory at least” because the show is quite different from the novels. I’m feeling ambivalent about the show, although I will go ahead here and admit I got to the episode where Eric makes his first appearance, and, OH MY. *fans self*

*This post contains what may be considered spoilers.*

First and foremost (and disagree with me in the comments if y’all want to): this is vampire porn. The novels, barring the sex scenes with Sookie and her chosen non-human boyfriend of the book, are not nearly so explicit. The TV show is pretty much straight-up (no pun intended) about sex. It’s not even vampirism couched as sex (the penetration of vulnerable skin with pointy fangs). We haven’t seen full frontal nudity yet (or a money shot), but screwing. Yeah, plenty of that. We’ve yet to get to Bud Dearborn (the sheriff) in the buff, but given the tone of the show, it can’t be long now. (Oh, please, no.)

That the books are not so explicit is a point I keep making to Dan lest he think I’ve decided vampire romance novels are a kink of mine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The books have sex in them, yes, but it’s not described in detail.

Second, the character development, if I can call it that. Lafayette and Tara in the novels are peripheral characters. (Dan’s quote upon seeing Lafayette: “That is one gay looking black man.” My response, “He is a gay black man.”) Jason, while central to the novels (as Sookie’s brother) doesn’t have the major role he has in True Blood (Season 1). And, although it is represented in the books that he’s quite the man-whore, on the show we get to see him in action. Lots and lots of naked action.

And where the hell did that vampire blood as Viagra story line come from? Ick. The “V-juice” as LSD story line is just silly, IMO.

I guess I’m adjusting to the differences in the novels (which I really, really enjoy) and the show. I think Anna Paquin is excellent as Sookie, capturing her innocence and naivete (for now) mixed with her innate sensuality plus her fascination for Bill. I love(d) Sookie’s grandmother. The effect when Sookie reads other people’s minds is very well done.

But I’m not sold on Sam or Bill, Tara or Lafayette. I am not fond of Jason. I’m not quite buying the chemistry between Sookie and Bill β€” I always pictured Bill a little neater and more clean-shaven in his appearance. (Another Dan observation, about Bill, “He’s really pale.” My response, “Honey, he’s a vampire.”) Although in Stephen Moyer’s defense, he does play a 173-year-old Civil War veteran-turned-vampire quite well; his turn of phrases can be very old fashioned. And he’s terribly protective of Sookie. Even while nakedly (figuratively speaking for now) lusting for her.

I’m only up to episode 5 of Season 1, and I have every intention of continuing to watch. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the differences between the show and the book, and see if I can come to terms with them.

Plus, Joe Manganiello stars as the werewolf Alcide in Season 3, and not only is he smoking hot, but he’s a Pittsburgh boy. So I’m extra motivated to keep watching.

7 thoughts on “The Book Versus the Show

  1. I just started watching TB on HBO at the end of this season… maybe the last 3 episodes.

    I gotta go get the DVDs and start from the beginning. (although probably not until next summer… here comes hockey season!)

    • Have you read any of the books? They seem to appeal more to a female audience (female protagonist, first-person narrative), whereas the show has a more equal-gender appeal. Hot boys for the girls, and nudity for the boys. πŸ™‚ Dan, who’s not really a vampire genre kind of guy seems to like True Blood, too, and as he hasn’t read the books, he doesn’t seem to have any problems wrapping his head around the issues I am having!

  2. I know all the critics think Mad Men is the best show on TV, but I gotta say. It loses me. I really don’t care what happens to the characters. That’s a turn-off for me. I’ve only seen a few sporadic episodes beyond halfway through the first season, but I just didn’t care.

    Don’t have HBO, but I’ve heard a lot about True Blood. How come ugly guys never play vampires. It’s always the male models. Why can’t Ernest Borgnine or John Goodman ever play vampires? Your right, all vampire stories are just soft horror porn. Are you going to watch Boardwalk Empire?

    • I love, love, love Mad Men. I find the characters fascinating, especially Don Draper, and I find the examination of the time and place (1960s Madison Avenue) captivating. I don’t watch it in real time because it’s on at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, and that’s my bedtime. Yes, hi, I am pregnant, and no spring chicken.

      I am watching True Blood on DVD because I don’t have HBO. I wanted to watch Boardwalk Empire, but it is something that I will probably check out on DVD when the time comes. I really like Steve Buschemi as an actor, and I would love to see him carry a show.

      As to the ugly guys point: Let’s remember that Count Dracula was VERY ugly. The original vampire literature and/or film depictions of vampires were not of pretty people. But as the genre became more sexualized (think Anne Rice and the Vampire Lestat, where sucking blood became the stand in for having sex), the vampires evolved into hot men and women.

      Uh, I may know too much about this for some reason. Maybe I should read some crime fiction or something…

      • True. Bela Lugosi was no hottie. I think it all started with the horror soap opera, Dark Shadows. Thus began the erotic vampire fantasy. I may give Mad Men another go. I did love the time and setting. Very much reminded me of my dad who was a Chicago banker through the sixties with the suits and the martinis and the male-centric offices.

  3. It took me awhile to reconcile the characters in the book with the ones on TV. Now, when I read the books I picture the TV actors. I think I am just now reconciling the Eric I pictured with Alexander Skaarsgard-he just wasn’t “pretty enough” or angelic looking or something–he didn’t match *my* Eric….but his hotness won me over.

    I love Bill’s accent. The slow southern drawl.

    I have only seen the first 2 seasons so far. I have come to see them as 2 separate, but related, things. Things happen in the books that don’t happen on the show-and vice-versa. Also, they seem to happen out of order-or at least more quickly. Tara and Lafayette are more integral characters. I like them on the show (so far)-so I am happy about it.

    As for the sex-my husband watches True Blood with me. He wouldn’t think of reading the books-in fact- he doesn’t *like* vampire shows, books, movies in general-but I love them. I am pretty sure the sex made him start paying attention when I put the first dvd in…but it isn’t why he watches now…It is always a good thing when we find a show to watch together–it is very rare.

    • I think what’s especially impressive about Bill’s accent is that he’s British. Which I wouldn’t have guessed from the show.

      I know. Dan watches with me, too. Sometimes, since we watch on DVD, he gets ahead. But since we lost Lost, it’s nice when we have a show to enjoy together!

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