Sunday, December 17

" True Blood" Versus " Twilight": Who Comes Out On Top?

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True Blood and Twilight are both big hits in their respective fields, but which one has more bite and which one just bites? The answer is clear: True Blood is the heavyweight champion for anyone who prefers sparkling wit to sparkling vampires.

1. True Blood was here first.

Despite the almost simultaneous release of the premiere episode of True Blood and the first Twilight movie in 2008, the first of the Charlaine Harris novels on which True Blood was based came out in 2001, about three years before Stephanie Meyer’s first book in her series. While I don’t think Meyer was specifically cribbing from Harris, the latter’s books feel fresher–and so does the series.

2. It’s sexier.

There’s nothing wrong with romance, but for those past their tween years, all those longing sighs and meaningful looks should eventually lead up to something, shouldn’t they? Maybe not everyone is a fan of True Blood’s racier, made-for-cable naughtiness, but just as a little Tabasco makes a Bloody Mary sing, a little spice in a vampire tale adds piquancy. True Blood is a decidedly more adult beverage.

3. It has a sense of humor.

Poor Kristen Stewart. Even in real-life red carpet events, she looks as though she’s afraid that the top of her head might fall off if she cracks a smile. The only time viewers see teeth in Twilight is when someone’s about to be bitten; there just aren’t a lot of laughs here. True Blood, on the other hand, is as comic as it is racy.

4. True Blood cast members bathe regularly.

No one is beautiful enough to escape the need for an occasional bath, yet according to multiple sources, Robert Pattinson has some personal hygiene issues. In an interview with Extra, the actor said he “doesn’t really see the point” in hair-washing. Scalp B.O. is never a good thing, R-Patt; even if you don’t see the point, your co-workers do.

5. The only sparkles in True Blood are on Lafayette’s scarves.

When sunlight hits them, the vampires of Bon Temps don’t sparkle, they go up like a pellet of sodium dunked in a bucket of water. Sparkling is for delicate Victorian ladies unaccustomed to the heat, not powerful nocturnal predators with a thirst for human blood. If Meyers were writing comic books, Superman would presumably not lose his super-powers in the presence of green kryptonite, but would instead suffer an itchy rash.

6. True Blood is set in Louisiana.

Between Anne Rice’s novels and Charlaine Harris’s, Louisiana now has more fictional vampires per capita than Transylvania. In fact, there’s even a Transylvania, Louisiana (no census figures for the number of actual vampires it may contain, however). The lush Louisiana landscape of True Blood, despite being a California fiction with few exterior shots actually filmed in the south, grounds the series in a way that bland Forks, Washington can’t match.

7. It has catchier music.

Jace Everett’s twangy “Bad Things” has a raw, bloody soul to it that Twilight’s twee piano lacks. Within seconds of seeing the opening credits, True Blood establishes itself as a sexy, bloody romp with a sense of humor about itself; musically speaking, Twilight might as well be a commercial for a long-distance calling plan.

8. The True Blood cast has more character.

Despite questions about how he smells, Robert Pattinson is a decent-looking young man. Kristen Stewart, while no eternal vision of loveliness, doesn’t hurt anyone’s eyes to look at, either. The supporting Twilight cast is largely young and comely. But they don’t look like they’ve led interesting lives the way Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Chris Bauer (Andy Bellefleur) do. And when the True Blood cast is beautiful, they are blindingly beautiful–Ryan Kwanten and Deborah Ann Woll eclipse the merely pretty cast of Twilight.

9. Speaking of the cast, isn’t something missing from Twilight?

What’s missing is variety. Virtually everyone in Twilight looks remarkably similar. Granted, in a series set in a schoolyard, the characters are going to be largely the same age (or the same apparent age, in the case of supernatural beings). Even so, this is a homogenous crew compared to the spectrum of ages, races, gender preferences, and socioeconomic strata that True Blood represents.

10. Sookie Stackhouse could beat Bella Swan in a fair fight.

Sookie goes her own way and generally does her own rescuing; if Bill has to save her from being hit by a van, it’s not because Sookie is a helpless damsel in distress, it’s because she’s poked around in a hornet’s nest and stirred up trouble. Overtly, vampires’ rights are a recurring theme in True Blood, but the underlying theme is one of equality; it’s backed up with strong female characters. Fragile Bella not only lacks the Stackhouse backbone, but probably couldn’t hold her own against any of the powerful women of True Blood–human or otherwise.

Twilight will undoubtedly continue to be wildly popular for the same reason that some people prefer canned cream of mushroom soup to dark, spicy Louisiana gumbo. Rich delicacies are often an acquired taste. The taste for True Blood is well worth cultivating; it’s a far more entertaining experience than teen vamp-angst.

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