Photo Credit: John P. Johnson
On Sunday, June 16, at 9 p.m. ET, True Blood will once again knock on your door, like a vampire waiting to be asked in. Will you allow Season 6 across your threshold? Chances are, you will. With an average of 5 million viewers, only two other HBO shows -- The Sopranos and Game of Thrones -- have brought better ratings to the network.
But at the risk of offending any bloodsuckers who may be reading this, True Blood started going downhill last season. It's still wickedly funny, and the excellent cast continues to make all that black humor sing. But the show's original concept has gotten a little stale. Perhaps that's only natural after five seasons on the air.
When it was new, True Blood was such an intricately complex pleasure. The Southern Gothic setting of Bon Temps, La. was like nothing else on TV. On hot, sticky nights in the deep South, the sexy/innocent Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) lolled on her dark back porch, waiting for liaisons with the sexy vampire who could kill her with a single lunge. Sure, TV vampires weren't new, but this show was darker and exponentially more dangerous than Buffy the Vampire Slayer (thanks, HBO!). The series also felt more profound, perhaps because it was built on a deep literary tradition in the vein of Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor. (The show itself is based on The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris.)
True Blood is campy, yes. But it's also been ripe with intelligent social satire about outcasts fitting into the mainstream. As we enter Season 6, though, everyone appears to be an outcast. Vampires are only one element of a city full of werewolves, faeries, shape-shifters, and really nasty humans. And all the gruesome violence? It's just not surprising anymore. That can't be a good thing. Most of all, though, the trouble lies with each season's need to up the ante. The storylines have gotten more and more ridiculous, and there are too many of them.
But there are signs that the show might find its footing in Season 6. Watch the teaser here:
As Season 6 kicks off, all hell has broken loose. It's humans versus vampires, with TruBlood (the synthetic blood vampires drink instead of the human kind) in short supply. After drinking Lillith's blood, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) has been reincarnated as a very, very bad guy. Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) will take a lead role in thwarting the anti-vampire initiatives of Louisiana governor Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard). "The vampires that they're arresting, they're not taking them to jail," says a new character named Willa Burrell (Amelia Rose Blaire). "They're studying y'all. Your biology, your psychology, stuff like that. It's sick."
"And where might I find this facility?" asks Eric -- who, let's face it, has never been great at handling his rage issues:
Another good sign about the season to come: Fan favorite Alcide (Joe Manganiello) appears to have a major storyline. "They are this close to figuring out who we are," cries werewolf Rikki (Kelly Overton) in the clip below. Ah, but have no fear, Rikki, because Alcide is the pack master now!
Sookie's brother Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) has always been amusingly slow and trouble-prone, and therefore has brought a lot of comedy to the show. Now he's on a murderous rampage in pursuit of their parents' killer, Warlow, and who doesn't want to see where that takes him? "I am sick of you blood suckers brain-raping me against my will," Jason screams in this sneak peek below. "Now you will tell me where Warlow is, or I will put a wooden bullet through your heart!"
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.