True Blood is a raunchy show about vampires and other supernatural beings. Its cast in turn contains many actors who were relatively unknown when the show first started in 2008, and are now regularly hailed as pinnacles of physical perfection.
This is not hyperbole, particularly for some of the lead male actors. If you don't believe me, type "Eric" or "Alcide from True Blood" into google and see what immediately pops up in the autofill and image results.
Handsome as Alexander Skarsgård and Joe Manganiello (the actors who play Eric and Alcide, respectively) may be, sexy vampires and werewolves are nothing new in pop culture. But one thing that's amused and puzzled fans who've watched True Blood through the years is a question it's left perenially open: how did all these unfairly beautiful people end up in one small town in Louisiana in the first place? Don't immensely powerful creatures of the night usually gravitate towards large metropolitan areas brimming with night clubs, cheap eyeliner, and equally attractive humans to eat? That's what the Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines fan in me assumed, at least.
I'm also a longtime True Blood follower, though. So you can only imagine how delighted I was last night when I finally got around to watching the latest episode and saw the show finally offered up an origin story of sorts for how all these bodily miracles ended up in the backwoods of Louisiana. Thankfully, it wasn't just so they could make all us normal human beings look bad.
I won't spoil any of the events leading up to the big reveal, don't worry. The relevant passage comes in a flashback, showing Eric and Pam when they first arrive in Shreveport, Louisiana. As one of the oldest and therefore most powerful vampires in the story, Eric had spent the last few decades years romping around exotic locales with Pam in tow, killing and having sex with whomever he pleased—often at the same time.
Turns out, they only travelled to Louisiana because they were forced to. Their reckless behavior drew the anger of higher-ups in the vampire authority, so they were getting stuck with an outpost duty in a place both of them dreaded for its boredom. Their new job? Managing a video store.
The video store eventually turns into Fangtasia, the unhinged night club that's been a staple set piece in the show since the very beginning. But how the club comes to be is where things get really interesting.
Ginger, Pam and Eric's dutiful human servant in the present day, first meets the duo one night when she walks into the shop. She quickly falls prey to Eric's seductive vampiric wiles, and spends the rest of the show (to date) doing his every bidding in the vague hope that he'll someday sleep with her.
Fully converted to the vampire cause—or, at least, a vampire cause—Ginger walks into the video store at some later date carrying a large chair. Pam is the only one there, and she begins to chastise Ginger for lugging an old piece of furniture around. Without missing a beat, Ginger launches into a vision for what they could turn the video store into.
She stammers breathlessly, tripping over herself as she describes a massive nightclub decked out with all manner of adult-oriented objects. The chair she'd just hauled in, she explains, would be Eric's throne, and the centerpiece for Fangtasia.
"Sex sells," Ginger says, gesturing towards the pornography aisle at the back of the store. "And Eric Northman is nothing if he is not pure fucking sex on a throne."
Even by True Blood's borderline pornographic standards, the dialogue here is ridiculous.
"There is nothing else like it," Ginger continues. "He sits up there, this thing you can see but cannot have. And so...so everyone just gets hornier, and hornier, until they just can't take it anymore. and they start losing control—of how many drinks they're ordering!"
Pam scoffs at the idea, then promptly hypnotizes Ginger so she can claim it as her own. And, well, the rest is history.
There are plenty of other sexy vampires in the mix at all times, of course, all of whom have different agendas than Eric and Pam. Other fan favorites like Jason and Alcide aren't even vampires at all. And then there's Sookie, who always has been and always will be the epicenter of the whole True Blood saga.
But here's why I think Ginger's out-of-the-blue, insane monologue about her uncontrollable lust for Eric is such a perfect moment to explain the show's campiest conceits: because it's something that True Blood knows much of its audience is secretly or not-so-secretly thinking as well. The sheer power of Eric's sex appeal has been a long-running joke for fans, so much so that once the show gave up any lingering attempts to take itself seriously it began teasing viewers with it—doling out increasingly salacious images of the man in tiny increments. Season six notoriously ended with a scene of Eric sitting on a mountain top in the buff, his manhood hidden only by the angle of his thigh.
He's left in dire straits at the end of that scene. But before True Blood even lets you know what happened to him at the start of the current and final season, it offers up a random homoerotic scene between Eric and Jason taking place in the latter's dream. As far as I can tell, there's no clear reason this sex scene even takes place other than because fans have clearly been asking for it.
He may not be the center of the plot. But Eric is the heart of this show, much in the same way that Fangtasia is the heart of the vampire life in the area. He's always represented the brash, uninhibited id that makes watching True Blood an infectious, guilty pleasure. But he still manages to be kindhearted and selfless enough times that he doesn't come across entirely as an aloof jerk who knows he can do whatever he wants because he's good looking enough, and scary enough, to stop people in their tracks. We still like him, in other words, even if we'd rather just be lusting after him—literally or metaphorically.
Plus, we all know that Sookie has always had a thing for Eric that keeps her coming back to him again and again, even when she's dating other people. And wherever Sookie goes, so goes the rest of True Blood.
So once Eric arrived in Louisiana and set up shop there, he proceeded to recast a seemingly quaint Southern town in his own mischievous image. We, as viewers, happily went along. We didn't even realize at first that something was being hidden from us. Like Ginger, we were too fixated on the elusive, carnal beauty that was almost in our grasp.