True Blood and True Life

I just spent the week with Sookie Stackhouse in Bon Temps, Louisiana. I had never seen an episode of True Blood until six days ago when I watched episode 1 season 1 on HBO GO on my iPad. Yesterday, I left Sookie screaming in the finale of Season 4.

Why was I sucked into Bon Temps, Louisiana and its inhabitants for a week, like a V addiction? And why was this immersion so satisfying?

Perhaps its because Bon Temps and the characters of True Blood are a metaphor for the diversity of life itself and our means of meandering through it. Here’s what I see in True Blood.

1. A role model in Sookie Stackhouse — a person who is transparent — her outward actions align with inward intentions. When Sookie sees injustice, she acts regardless of the risk. She knows herself — what she deems right and wrong — and acts in accord with it. Deception is not part of her repertoire unless it’s used to save someone she loves.

2. The world is not always what it seems to be. Nowhere is that more true than Bon Temps Louisiana where humans may be shapeshifters or werepanthers or fairies or witches and where vampires are sometimes full of heart and kindness. We are constantly reminded that perceptions are full of illusions and we wake up all the time to seeing something we hadn’t seen before. The vast magnitude of the unknown is revealed again and again.

3. The question of equality of all ‘beings’ is a recurrent theme of True Blood, forcing the viewer to question ‘better than/less than’ thinking in general. Where does it arise? How is it perpetuated? We see that harmful actions, thoughts, and feelings arise from ignorance — from people being ‘possessed’ or ‘unaware’ — and that helpful actions arise in knowledge. In True Blood the harmful actions are exceedingly gruesome but they are a metaphor for the harmful actions of pride, greed, anger, envy, and hatred that foster suffering in the world today.

4. Religion can fuel intolerance and hatred when better than/less than thinking become institutionalized within it.

5. The big question ‘who am I’ emerges weekly as characters work to discern their value systems, and investigate the origins of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Every member in True Blood asks themselves that question, each in their own way. When illusion masks the truth time and time again and reactions get in the way of discovery; love seems to open the door to clarity.

6. The ordinary is shown as extraordinary. Sookie’s wardrobe and the everyday human interactions are juxtaposed on supernatural, blood engulfed, beyond life-threatening experiences make the very ordinariness of life all that more extraordinary.

True Blood is a way of viewing life — the struggles we all face with emotion, with right and wrong, with pain and suffering — and of learning to experience (notice with curiosity) things as they are, whether viewed in a human lifetime or over 1000s of years.

I love seeing my world through the eyes of Sookie, Bill, Eric, Sam and the rest of Bon Temps.

Can’t wait to see what’s next in Season 5 and more importantly what’s here right now.

(Post first published on Psychology Today online site)