True Blood and smart characterisation

It might be OTT, but True Blood has advantages over other genre shows.

tb1I had a conversation with my editor, today, about the pilot episode of V. He told me that the human characters in the ABC show were archetypes, and little more; the preacher who’s lost his faith, or the uncertain pregnant woman, both of whom form part of an attempt to take an all-encompassing look at how mankind would react to the onset of aliens, should they ever bother to visit our planet.

HBO’s True Blood has its own archetypes – the gay character, Lafayette Reynolds. The idiot character, Jason Stackhouse. The difference is characterisation. I think one of the major creative drawbacks to network television has been the rise of ensemble dramas, as they inspire the mentality that more characters is better, leading to one-dimensional heroes and villains as a result of the competition for screen time.

True Blood is a careful balancing act. I don’t feel that any of the main cast are bumped to the side or driven only by their central ideas – episode-to-episode, I feel that I’m learning more and more about these characters and their motives. While such personality-defining moments only occur sporadically on the majority of shows, True Blood feels like it’s constantly evolving the way audiences interpret the characters. Even if this involves one character sniffing a dead girl’s sheets, it works.

Personally, I believe it’s one of the reasons the show remains so interesting. What do you think?