Are y'all watching True Blood on HBO? I can't get enough of this soapy, Southern-fried vampire series.
In fact, I'm a sucker -- so to speak -- for pretty much any well-done, intelligent vampire tale. Unlike seemingly half of the adult female population, though, I'm utterly immune to the supposed charms of the Twilight saga and its sparkling (non)bloodsuckers. I like my vampire fables complete with sex and blood, thank you very much. (As for what's behind our collective obsession with the undead, this recent New York Times article attempts to psychoanalyze the fang fixation.)
Anyway, there is plenty of sex and blood in Bon Temps, Louisiana -- the fictional setting for the show, which centers around clairvoyant barmaid Sookie Stackhouse; her 170-year-old vampire boyfriend, Bill Compton; Bill's newly undead "daughter," Jessica; shape-shifting roadhouse proprietor Sam; Sookie's formerly demon-possessed BFF, Tara; mysterious Maenad Maryann; vampire head honcho Eric and his tart-tongued sidekick, Pam; gay and fierce short-order cook, hustler, porn-site entrepreneur, and erstwhile drug dealer Lafayette; Sookie's dumb but sexy brother, Jason; and a collection of other odd -- and often oddly lovable -- characters.
Of course, being the design geek that I am, I'm nearly as fascinated by the physical spaces the show's characters inhabit as I am the steamy storylines they become entangled in. Let's take a little tour, shall we? (Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.)
Bill's digs -- no surprise -- are my favorite. Imbued with the sort of dark glamour and crumbling grandeur that makes me go weak in the knees, it's a fitting home for Bon Temps' resident Victorian-era vamp.
Bill's home probably looks much the same as it did when he last resided here as a human in the 1860s. It's all florid, peeling wallpaper, dark-stained woodwork, fine-but-threadbare rugs, flickering gaslight, and aged, ornate furnishings. In a word: Yummy. (And yeah, I think I'd find it hard to resist in such lushly Gothic surroundings, too.)
Bill plays the piano like any well-bred Southern gentleman, and doesn't seem terribly interested in current decorating trends. But he is starting to outfit his home with modern amenities like a Wii system, with which he rather heartbreakingly plays virtual golf on a sunlight-dappled course.
Daddy is no fun at all. But his sumptuous red velvet settee is pretty sweet.
This is where the magic happens, people. Though if I were Sookie, I think I'd quietly remove the portrait -- presumably of Bill's Civil War-era bride -- from the mantle. It might put a bit of a damper on their frequent, torrid make-up sex, after all.
Eric the Viking vamp kicks back in Bill's bathtub. Yes, please.
Sookie's family home, by contrast, is all warm, cozy Granny style.
And I mean that literally. Sookie lived in the pleasantly dilapidated farmhouse with her late grandmother, and from the looks of it, she hasn't made many changes since her beloved Gran was killed in the kitchen during Season One.
Still, the Stackhouse home represents warmth, family, and normalcy in a world that's gone a bit mad. It may not push any design envelopes, but it's homey and welcoming, and that is as it should be.
Blood-red walls, flocked upholstery, and faux-goth accouterments complete a look that seems geared more to satisfying the leering tourists' idea of what an undead hangout should look like than a place that (incredibly hot) thousand-year-old Nordic vampires would call home-away-from-home.
OK, I guess what really completes the look is a floor full of gore from a messily staked vampire bartender. RIP, Longshadow.
Sam's restaurant and bar is the setting for much of the show. It's where the townsfolk meet and where many of the main characters work or play.
I can't tell you how despondent I was when it appeared that Lafayette had met his maker in last season's cliffhanger. Love. Him. (Anna Paquin may have won a Golden Globe for her grating, overly accented Sookie, but Nelsan Ellis brings it week after week. The man was robbed, if you ask me.)
Oh dear, it looks like a thrift store exploded in here. That said, Lafayette always does the best he can with the tools available to him. Not surprisingly, he's turned a dreary little abode furnished with garage sale castoffs into a funky, colorful crash pad with attitude. Who knew that he had a Tiki Fabulous side?
What is that on the wall -- some sort of Santeria shrine? Oh Lafayette, you are so ... complex.
Given the untamed bacchanalias that take place here, Maryann's stately spread is deceptively buttoned-up.
The classic architecture is accented with touches of exotica that presumably provide clues to Maryann's past and true identity. There's the fresco depicting Pan in the courtyard, for starters, as well as the tribal masks and the ancient fertility statue inside.
Come to think of it, the shape of that statue is oddly reminiscent of the horned, demonic-looking bull creature that attacked Sookie. (Get out of the house now, Sam!)
Overflowing trays of juicy, delectable food are ever-present at Maryann's. (Was that a human heart in the stew her houseboy was preparing for last week's poolside party-turned-orgy?) What is this woman up to -- and is she really a woman at all?
What other clues do you think True Blood's sets reveal about Bon Temps' residents and the town's supernatural goings-on? Any southerners out there with quibbles about how the region's architecture and interiors are depicted on the series? Most importantly, could Eric be any hotter?
If you have theories, thoughts, or opinions on the show, its set design, and/or Eric's hotness quotient, please post a comment and share them!
P.S. Tell me these opening credits aren't awesome.