True Blood and Game of Thrones are two of the most popular shows on HBO. Both have been nominated for and won numerous awards. True Blood is a series about a psychic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse and her adventures and mis-adventures with the local supernatural community. Game of Thrones is about seven kingdoms all vying for the main throne.
While Game of Thrones is shooting Season 3, True Blood is presently on Season 5. Compared to the previous four seasons, Season 5 is lacking. I believe that is due to the fact it is coming up against the excellence of Game of Thrones. Whatever storytelling issues True Blood has are being exposed by Game of Thrones. The following are three lessons True Blood can learn from Game of Thrones to tigthen the narrative.
KILL OFF CHARACTERS…INCREASE TENSION
Game of Thrones cast is about double, maybe triple, that of True Blood. If every episode attempted to focus on every character there would be no way to connect with anyone. Game of Thrones is based off the novel series A Song of Ice and Ice. For the most part, dozens of characters are seen through the eyes of several POVs. That works well for a novel, but for TV it’s not possible. However, George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones, does something that goes against the grain of modern storytelling. He kills off Ned Stark, the one character in the midst of dozens the reader can latch onto as a main character. Thus, when the book was adapted into a show, Ned was killed.
Readers of the novel expected this, but TV viewers was shocked to see such a noble character not saved in the last minute. This death was preceeded by the death of King Robert Baratheon, which set off the game of thrones. Both deaths happened to major characters in the middle of the book. Also, Viserys Targaryen, son of the king that Robert exiled, could be considered one of the story’s major antagonists. He was killed in mid-novel by his brother-in-law Khal Drogo, a barbaric warrior. By mid-season and mid-novel, two protagonists and an atagonist were killed. Khal Drogo was mercy killed by his wife, Dany Targaryen, after a witch sent him into a coma.
Most of the major players were killed, thus supporting characters had to step up. This also set up a great standard for the series.
Anyone can die.
With that mindset, a reader of the novel or viewer of the show is in constant suspense because no one is safe. It makes battle scenes more intense and all conflict has the potential to go either way.
True Blood desperatly needs to learn this lesson. We have: Sookie, Jason, Bill, Eric, Tara, Pam, Alcide, Sam, Luna, Andy, Arlene, Terry, Jessica, Hoyt, and ever-fabulous Lafayette. This is a lot for a main cast and True Blood’s detriment. The show needs to kill off half the cast and focus on those left. I would go so far as to kill off Sookie. She may be the central figure, but Ned Stark was killed and that threw gasoline on the fire growing in Westeros (the main continent in Game of Thrones).
I suggest the story revolves around Bill, Eric, and Sookie. We have Alcide, Lafayette, Jason, Jessica, and Pam to support them. Everyone else needs to die.
Game of Thrones is set all over Westeros and a continent to the east. If everything was set in King’s Landing, Winterfell, or any of the other numerous locations things would get repetitive and would result in people thinking “why don’t you just move.” However, with such a large cast, most scenes are located in a different place, and many characters are always on the move.
True Blood sets most of its action in fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana. Granted, we have seen Dallas, New Orleans, parts of Mississippi, and few varied places, but the action primarily centered in Bon Temps and the club Fangtasia in Shreveport. This was fine in season 1, but in season 2 the entire town became hypnotized by a demon into a vioent orgy. In Season 3, werewolves are introduced. In Season 4, witches come into play and try to kill all the vampires in town. In Season 5, everything is all over the place: a character has to deal with an ifrit, hate groups are shooting supernatural creatures, Lafayette gets his mouth sewed up, the Authority loses its mind.
Yet, people still choose to live in Bon Temps.
True Blood needs to get out of Bon Temps and move into a new place or scatter the characters, who are left after half of them are killed off.
One Overarching Plot
“Seven kingdoms vie for the throne of Westeros”
That’s the overarching plot for Game of Thrones. No matter where the characters are or what they are doing, everything in each season ties into the plot.
Dany: Cross the sea to get the throne.
Stannis: Join with new religion to get power to get the throne.
Cersei: Keep her son Joffrey on the throne.
Robb: Put a good king on the throne to protect his kingdom.
Arya: Get back to her brother Robb and escape Joffrey
You can see how each story, even Arya’s, ties into the main plot.
“A psychic waitress deals with supernatural creatures.”
That’s not an overarching plot. It sounds like a basic concept that can be applied to almost any number of modern supernatural fiction. True Blood has always had season arcs. That’s fine, but season five, like I mentioned in the last section, is all over the place. There is no clear antagonist with a goal everyone can get behind to stop.
Sookie: Sees vampire ghost besides wallowing in self pity.
Jason: Love triangle with Jessica and Hoyt
Bill and Eric: Dealing with The Authority and vampire god, Lilith
Alcide: Fight for packmaster
Terry: Haunted by an ifrit
Lafayette: Possessed by Mexican demon.
There are more, but you see how none of them connect. Trust me, we’re on episode 9 of season 5 and I yet to see a connection.
For example, this season could revolve around Sookie pyschically connecting to an ancient vampire demon which results in Eric and Bill going to the Authority for help. Lafayette, a medium, is helping her. Alcide and Jason go to get some sigil to help Sookie. Jessica assists Jason cause she doesn’t want to see him die.
BAM! Every character’s goal is tied into the season arc, stop ancient demon.
With those three lessons, True Blood can tighten up and get back to the must-see status it was in Season One.
What do you guys think about this season of True Blood?