True Blood/True Freud

| June 7, 2011

As I hungrily await the season 4 premiere of True Blood, (June 26th!), I’ve been thinking about our recent societal obsession with blood suckers.  I confess that I read the Twilight Series (all four, don’t judge).  I even gave The Vampire Diaries a try, though it didn’t appeal to me so much, perhaps because the CW doesn’t have the luxury of being able to be quite as uninhibited or extreme as Cable TV.

But True Blood sold me from the first episode, hook, line, and sinker, in part because Alan Ball seems to be able to do no wrong.  With Six Feet Under and American Beauty, he always has something fascinating to say about humans and how we relate to one another, which makes me even more intrigued with why he turned his attention to vampires.

What is Alan Ball trying to say about humans through focusing on the undead?

And since I am a sucker (no pun intended) for all things Freud, I also began to wonder, what would Sigmund say about our sudden fascination/fixation with vampires?  What makes True Blood so irresistible to watch?  When you narrow it down, True Blood is a beautiful representation of Freud’s notion that sex and aggression are two powerful forces in human development.  Sure, we all care (marginally) about Sookie and Bill’s love saga, but the more titillating aspects of the show seem to be all the carnal desire and blood spilled (desire and blood often going hand in hand) that Alan Ball fills our screens with countless times throughout each episode.

Could it be that some of our fixation on “vampires” may be because they provide us with a beautiful way of being able to fulfill some of our own raw needs within ourselves?   Through focusing on “vampires” we then have the luxury of projecting these carnal aspects of ourselves onto those “sub-human blood suckers” instead.  Alan Ball (and the other writers of True Blood) make this point time and time again within the series, often directly comparing vampires with humans and pointing out the similarities.  But I wonder sometimes if the viewers of the show themselves may end up doing the same thing that many of the small town Louisiana folk in True Blood do to the vampires, by drawing a big distinction between “us” and “them.”

After all, as viewers, we can watch True Blood ravenously, and afterward, if we have any moments of discomfort or unease about just how much we enjoyed all that blood, we then have the option of chalking it up to being a show about “vampires or werewolves or other demons” instead of facing those perhaps- not- so- pretty aspects of ourselves.  But the reality (and I believe Freud and Alan Ball would have my back on this one) is that True Blood and all the other vampire crazed entertainment filling our pages or TV screens today, is far more a commentary about the living than it is about the undead.

But it sure is fun to watch those blood-suckers.