Another season of True Blood is upon us. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting on my sofa, wishing for a beer, as the True Blood finale unfolded before my eyes.
While I still find elements of the show entertaining (Steve Newlin and Russell Edgington are back!!), the latter half of last season killed the rabid fan in me.
However, prior to the Season 4 finale, I had a couple of draft posts about True Blood I did not want to trash. I HATE starting something and not finishing it. One of the posts I was working on examined a series of page-to-screen adaptions and the challenges and creative decisions involved. Obviously, Ball’s treatment of the Sookie Stackhouse Novels was a subject of this piece.
After last season’s finale, I put this post on the back burner, and I only recently started getting back into it. It has evolved from how it originally began. Throughout my research, I have come across numerous articles about Ball (including some pre-True Blood) and, at times, I’ve found these articles really frustrating. My frustration stems from Ball saying something that doesn’t make a lot of sense or is in direct contrast to what is seen on the show.
In this post, I want to examine one of these articles and how it relates to this show’s inability to kill off key characters.
I feel it is timely given a majority of the reviews of Season 5, whether they be positive or negative, point to the show’s large cast as its weakness and puzzle over the show’s seeming reluctance to pare this cast down.
Killing off a key cast member provides not only a great storytelling opportunity but riveting emotional impact. Several critically acclaimed and award winning HBO shows have done this to great effect (Long Term Parking episode of The Sopranos for one). Yet, True Blood, seems stuck in focusing only on shock value and less on emotional impact.
To be fair, it is not like the show hasn’t killed off characters before. Sookie’s fairy godmother, Claudine, was killed by Eric last season (in an episode penned by Ball). Though, Claudine’s character also died in the books, her demise did not come until much later in the series and it was not at the hands of Eric.
But we all know this ain’t the books. Still, I was interested to hear Ball’s reasoning for this change; especially since the roles of many female characters of the novels have been minimized on the show.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly last year, Ball had this to say about Claudine’s demise:
“After everything that was going on with the fairies in the first episode, I think we wanted to sort of put a pin in that, but obviously it’s not over,” says Ball. “I felt it would have more impact if it was someone we knew as opposed to just a random fairy.”
(You can read the full article here.)
For me, Ball’s explanation raises more questions than it does answers. Taking this explanation at face value, it would appear that Ball is aware of the emotional impact when a character the viewers know bites the dust. Further it seems he wants to apply it to the show. Yet, this cast remains huge and to say that we “know” or came to care about Claudine is a bit … off.
Claudine was killed off in Episode 39 of True Blood. Assuming that episodes average 55 minutes, this is 2,145 minutes of True Blood. And Claudine was onscreen for a grand total of 9 minutes and 25 seconds of those 2,145 minutes (thanks, YouTube). Or, in percentage terms this is a big fat 0%.
Sorry, Alan. Your reasoning doesn’t make much sense but it definitely sounds better than something like, “We just did it to be shocking with an added bonus of potentially pissing off book fans that prefer the source material.”
Screencap courtesy of black-celebration.net.