Of all the monsters out there—your zombies, your aliens, your mummies, robots, Republicans (okay—and Democrats)—the ones we seem most fascinated by are vampires. I think there are two reasons for this.
First, while the others want to subjugate you or kill you, vampires want to recruit you. Not everybody, of course, most of us will still end up as entrees—but just as being part of the Talented Tenth is an appealing notion to those of us convinced we will be in that number, if you're chosen to become a vampire, it's like being part of the ultimate high school clique.The second reason vampires fascinate us is because they are the sexiest monsters. (True, it's hard to think of Bela Lugosi as a sex symbol, but if Jay Z managed to pull Beyoncé...)Vampires are the only monsters who give you hickies.There have been vampires in space, vampires in the Old West, vampires in the future, even Vampire Hookers (1978, whose tagline was "They kiss and they tease, but always they please!" and whose poster promised, "Warm blood isn't all they suck!"). Now we have Southern Fried Vampires in True Blood (HBO, Sundays at 9 PM EST). Based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire books, the series, developed by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, American Beauty) begins two years after vampires have "come out of the coffin" thanks to True Blood, synthetic plasma developed by the Japanese that satisfies all a vampire's daily nutritional requirements. The central character is Sookie Stackhouse, who insists she's "just a waitress" despite her ability to read people's minds. She's more tolerant of vampires than most of her neighbors, including her best friend Tara (the sharpest mind and mouth in town) and her brother Ryan (whose sole talent seems to be his ability to sleep with any woman he wants).True Blood's vampires represent a sort of Every Minority: they're looked upon as "illegal aliens," are denied equal protection (they're waiting for the passage of the VRA--the Vampire Rights Amendment), and they are exploited for profit (there's a black market for "V-juice," vampire blood: a human who consumes it heals rapidly and experiences senses heightened to preternatural levels). The writing is sharp, filled with witty quips (like "fangbangers," humans who have sex with vampires) and if you don't pay attention you'll miss something (like when the camera pans across a coffee table on which there is a tabloid newspaper whose headline reads, "ANGELINA TO ADOPT VAMPIRE CHILD!") And there is ample gratuitous (and graphic) sex, violence and swearing. What else could you want in a series?