Why Are the 'True Blood' Emmy Nominations So Surprising?

Vampire shows have never fared well at the Emmys before -- so why is 'True Blood' different?

"It was a fantastic surprise."

That's what True Blood creator Alan Ball told the LA Times last week when he learned about his show's five Emmy nominations (including one for Outstanding Drama Series). 

But why was the Emmy love so unexpected? Based on recent ratings, viewers are flocking to True Blood (HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET) in numbers twice the size of HBO's Entourage (which follows it). And according to Metacritic's calculations, most reviewers have handed the series high marks, too. Why wouldn't it deserve to be in the company of Lost, Mad Men, Dexter, the Good Wife and Breaking Bad?

Some say it's a vampire thing. Shows about bloodsuckers haven't fared well with the Emmy nominating crew. For seven years (1997-2003), Buffy the Vampire Slayer impressed tons of critics and cultivated a rabid fan base, but the show never earned a single nomination in a major category. Its spin-off, Angel, was shut out, too. Since these shows seemed to deserve at least one major nod or two, people figured their exclusion must have something to do with some kind of vampire prejudice. They're not exactly the most likable creatures, after all!

Somehow, the vampires of Bon Temps, La., have made a favorable impression on the awards show gods. But if you ask me, the Emmy committee simply recognized that True Blood isn't a "vampire show." It's a Southern gothic tale of horror and redemption, where both vampires and humans act cruelly -- in equal measure. Its vampires aren't any less malevolent than those on Buffy. But in this show, they're harder to single out as evil. Living or undead, everybody's potentially heartless.

Do you think True Blood deserves Emmy recognition? Chime in below!

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