In praise of True Blood, home to television’s greatest-ever sex

No show has ever delivered more and better sex than True Blood. Emily Writes looks back on a trashy high-art masterpiece.

This content is brought to you by NEON – where all seasons of True Blood are streaming now.

It was the scene in the basement that did it for me. Sex swing? Check. Alexander Skarsgård’s bare ass? Check. Or maybe it was the first time I saw Anna Paquin’s nipple? Or was it that scene with the guy from Home and Away and that woman, heels-to-Jesus in the car? It must have been the first episode, because from the first episode I was hooked.

From the first line of the theme song – the rotting flesh, the church scenes which played with my Christian guilt, the naked leg. It was all so hot, and that was before the first scene.

I wanna do bad things to you.

Nobody did sex and nudity better than True Blood. It’s a lost art. From September 7, 2008 to August 24, 2014 True Blood had the best sex you could get at 9pm on a weekday. Nothing else has come close.

Never before or since has a TV show, uh, held my attention for so long. Each week I’d watch it with girlfriends and we would talk about the “themes” of the show. Vampires, now out of the coffin and open to the world, were clearly meant to represent LGBTQIA folks, right? And it was about civil rights? In the South? Tru Blood, the synthetic blood made for vampires, was a drug introduced by corporations – so that was about drug dependency yes?

The power of faith and the corrupting forces of religion, group hysteria and intolerance were all part of the… sorry… what… Alexander Skarsgård is naked again.

True Blood gave us the gift that keeps on giving: Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman. Sheriff of Area Five and owner of Fangtasia, a bar for vampires to – you guessed it – bang humans. Eric was the perfect bad guy you want to bang. Even if he had a Backstreet Boys haircut for the first season. 

Eric, in waiting

In case you live under a rock, True Blood told the story of a hot waitress called Sookie Stackhouse, played by our very own Anna Paquin. She lived in the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Her wardrobe was almost exclusively tiny shorts and sundresses that showed her nipples. It was a wonderful time.

Sookie could read minds; you found out later on why. But none of that is important. What’s important is she banged vampires all the live-long day. And her brother was hot. And her best friend was hot. Her fellow waiters and waitresses were hot. Her boss was hot (he was a shapeshifter). Basically everyone in the town was hot.

And they were all rooting. And the sex was fantastic – straight up nudity, none of this horsing around with bed sheets that cover a woman’s tits but reach a man’s waist. And everyone was really pounding like it was their last day on earth. 

Every week there would be some hot vampire or hot werewolf or hot were-panther (I know) or hot fairy who was going to see a man about a dog. It was relentless and wonderful. Every time there was a plot hole they just filled it with sex.

Silly and crass and high drama trash, as a genre, is my favourite and few get it as right as True Blood did. Recently I returned to it watching episode after episode. Life is different now for me with two kids – watching it with a child snuffling in their sleep in each arm is not the same. But I can conjure up that youthful lust I used to have. The joy of watching a job well done by a man with abs of steel cannot be underestimated. 

Those who had read the books knew that Eric was Sookie’s true love, not Bill. But the show steadfastly focused on Bill for three seasons. The sexual tension was off the charts. And that’s what made it all so watchable. Everyone was lusting after everyone. The boys wanted the boys, the girls wanted the girls and everyone in between.

We would sit and watch and think “wouldn’t it be amazing if Sookie’s sex addict brother had it off with Eric?” and then, like a horny God, series creator Alan Ball, would deliver in the next episode. Jason would drink too much V (Vampire blood) which would cause him to hallucinate. And his hallucination would be a candlelit romp with Eric. Jackpot.

True Blood had the perfect sassy characters with one liners and quips that we’d repeat to each other throughout the week to numb the pain of dead end jobs and no money. I adored Pam, Eric’s side kick, and Lafayette the cook at Sookie’s workplace, Merlotte’s. They were the best friends-slash-lovers you wanted and needed. We used to watch with bottles of cheap red wine and scream when Lafayette took out his earrings and called someone “hooker with your badass”. We’d repeat even years later “it ain’t possible to live unless you crossin’ somebody’s line”.

Because nothing says romance like a fresh green felt.

While shows like Breaking Bad felt resolutely straight, True Blood was a queer celebration most of the time. It was never afraid to go into batshit territory. But it wasn’t just toeier than a roman sandal. It was beautifully shot.

The orgy in season two episode four is a masterpiece in cinematography. Maryanne Forrester, a powerful immortal maenad right? Right. So she’s calling on Dionysus to fill the souls of Bon Temps residents with lust so they can orgy on her behalf. Yes, you with me?

She reaches to the heavens and chants; in the distance you see blurred figures. As she smiles the figures come into focus. They are slow and sensual, dancing lustfully. It’s like a 60th birthday where everyone has taken acid. The leaves on the trees rustle and Tara and her man are back lit – suddenly there’s a close up of a butt and thrusting as Maryanne the maenad begins to vibrate. Everybody is banging, horny folks drugged on maenad chanting smear cake on their faces. BUTTS. Foodfight, thrusting, dancing, BUTTS. Cake. Chanting. Banging. BUTTS. Pashing. Fighting. Thrusting. Someone is eating dirt?

And all the while you’re on your stink couch that came with the flat eating $5 Domino’s pizza thinking sure, I could worship Bacchus.

Nothing lets you escape like True Blood did. Think of the most watched shows out there now. Do you want to escape to any of those worlds?

We just don’t do fantasy that well anymore. We have absolutely lost the ability to bring fanfic to life. What shows give their women characters any pleasure, let alone sexual pleasure? Where is the desire? The sexual tension? The horny pay off? We live in a time when on television sexual assault is far more common than a good root. Women on TV are more often abused than adored. Shows try to out grim each other every week with dicks getting cut off and prolonged rape scenes. 

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Reality TV seems to be showing more sex these days than big budget series do. And absolutely nobody wants to see Chad from Essex jackhammering some poor girl’s cervix. The sex is meant to look impossibly good. It’s not meant to remind you of your ex.

There’s nothing joyful in TV sex anymore. Not like it used to be, back in 2008. And if you’re lucky enough to have two characters have that slow sexy build-up and they’re finally about to hit it – all you get is a damn slow fade and a look of happiness after.

We want ass. ASS goddammit. True Blood gave us all that and much more, and remains the ultimate sexy escape. It’s still ridiculous and fun and it doesn’t take itself seriously – and god, we need that. In this age of bleak, True Blood is pure fantastical escapism, a place to escape to and wish you never had to leave.

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