True Blood (2013) Vampires have always been pretty good at sucking. But lately, they've been draining the life out of True Blood . The show was once a… 2013-06-16 Drama Arliss Howard Joe Manganiello Stephen Moyer Anna Paquin Alexander Skarsgard HBO
TV Review

True Blood (2013)

TRUE BLOOD Stephen Moyer and Deborah Ann Woll
Image credit: John P. Johnson/HBO
TRUE BLOOD Stephen Moyer and Deborah Ann Woll

Details Start Date: Jun 16, 2013; Genre: Drama; With: Arliss Howard, Joe Manganiello, Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgard; Network: HBO

Vampires have always been pretty good at sucking. But lately, they've been draining the life out of True Blood. The show was once a great Southern gothic bodice ripper, always teasing us about who was biting whom in the tiny, quirky world of Bon Temps, but it started to feel like a real drag last season. Its fizzy small-town vibe began to be destroyed by too many characters (who wasn't in the Vampire Authority?), bad twists (that iffing Ifrit!), and enough brooding to make you shed tears of blood down your mortal cheeks. And now that creator Alan Ball is no longer the showrunner (he still gets an exec-producer credit), it's getting harder to remember that this blood-leeching drama used to be a whole lot of fun.

Even the theme of the sixth season — power corrupts — feels heavy-handed. Gov. Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard) has declared war on all vampurrs, banning them from running businesses. Sookie (Anna Paquin) is trying to wield her light-zapping powers responsibly, with help from her ''faerie grandfather'' (Rutger Hauer, the most grizzled pixie ever). And now that Bill (Stephen Moyer) has been baptized in the first vampire's blood, he thinks he's a god. A half-naked Lilith (Jessica Clark) appears to him in a vision, urging him to act like one. ''You can save us all,'' she insists, wearing an unruly merkin that looks like a Chia Pet. ''You will know what to do.'' Yes, he does. First, world domination. Then, book that waxing job.

You know things are getting sad when True Blood's trademark nudity isn't sexy anymore. It doesn't help that this season's great romance focuses on Sookie and another faerie (Rob Kazinsky) — a nice guy with pretty wings? Where's the forbidden passion in that? Even the bad-boy trysts are strangely businesslike: Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) tries to seduce Truman's daughter (Amelia Rose Blaire), but that's just because she's a useful pawn against her dad. Only Andy (Chris Bauer) is still serving the kooky, campy thrills of early True Blood. After an affair with a faerie, he's stuck raising a gaggle of babies who age a few years every day. Bauer is funny as a clueless dad (''I don't know s---about baby faeries!'' he gasps), but his story feels like a birth-control PSA. Which makes you wonder: Isn't anyone in Bon Temps game for a good old-fashioned can't-fight-this-feeling snog anymore? Sure, with the almighty Bill looming, they're all scared that power corrupts the people they love. But sex is power, too — and these fangbangers used to love being corrupted. C+

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Originally posted Jun 12, 2013 Published in issue #1264 Jun 21, 2013 Order article reprints