The best thing that could have happened to True Blood was its series finale, because more people are talking about that show today than in the last two years combined. It has been one of the top trending stories on Facebook all day, although I’m not sure that leading with the Orlando Sentinel’s review that calls the finale “wacky and poignant” is really fair to the full scope of what the episode delivered to its fans last night, after seven years of ups and downs. Then again, one man’s trash is another’s treasure, as a professional TV critic and many fans could think that it was the ending that Sookie Stackhouse and Bon Temps deserved, while I and others shared some opinions that leaned more toward “Good lord, all that loyalty for nothing.”
The negative response was at least enough to warrant True Blood’s final season showrunner Brian Buckner sticking up for himself and the cast and crew, as he told Vulture’s Price Peterson that he is “defiantly proud” of how the seventh and final season turned out, no matter what a stake in the mud like me has to say about it. However, before I get to the juicy quotes, I thought this part deserved a raised eyebrow…
Could there have been a more complicated and thankless task than concluding a show like True Blood, with its wildly disparate story lines, characters, and tones, not to mention its sliiightly passionate fanbase? And that’s to say nothing of the undeserved backlash it’s had to deal with these last few seasons.
Peterson and I will apparently never share the same definition of “undeserved,” seeing as ratings do not lie, and the constant teases, promises and disappointments of Seasons 5, 6 and especially 7 already had most fans leaving the game early. But that’s all moot now that the series is over and Buckner is at least pretending like he’s satisfied with the way that Season 7 showcased Sookie’s quest for a normal love above everything else.
Buckner reconfirmed the obvious fact that this was ultimately a story about Sookie Stackhouse, no matter how much more we wanted of Eric and Pam at the end, and the writers had to come up with something that basically gave her the normal life that she wanted, which meant that Bill was never ending up with Sookie, no matter how much the hardcore Fang Bangers wanted it.
“You have to pick a center. So, for us in this story line, I think it’s obvious from the seven years that Sookie and Bill were not meant to be [in] true love forever. So now you’ve got to pick whose otherness you’re going to protect. I think the allegory to be protected was Sookie’s. So we chose to call her the center of our story. We’ve got a show that was based on The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, and her otherness and her specialness was the thing that we chose to protect. So that’s how I reconcile it. You can’t have a show without a center, and the allegory can spread out in all directions from there. But I don’t think it’s a show where Bill is No. 1 on the call sheet. And I don’t think it’s a show where Eric is No. 1 on the call sheet. So that’s how I would defend it.” (Via Vulture)
Buckner, who said that he has “done a little bit of reading” in regard to the critics today (I’m available if he’d like to open up about the creative process), basically sounds like a man who had limited options and did the best he could to fill 10 episodes with what he was given. So if we didn’t like it all, tough titties, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
“It might be fun to do the last season over again. But you make choices. I’m sure it could be told a different way. But we can’t break stories from fear of how people are going to be disappointed. And the show had to end somehow. So I’m sort of defiantly proud of what we did, with the understanding that you can’t please everyone. You just can’t.”
That’s a valid point, that you can’t please everyone, but shouldn’t the purpose then be to please the majority? The season opened with this incredible threat that gave us another promise of a wave of violence that would leave plenty of casualties, including a number of our favorite characters. It makes sense that actor scheduling took its toll on the creative boundaries, but is that an excuse to make Alcide’s death as pointless as it was? Better yet, was the need to shoehorn Sookie’s quest for normalcy into so many minutes of each episode greater than the obligation to viewers to package suspense and story together? Because just as Violet’s presence was meaningless to Jason Stackhouse and the direction of the series, her death could have at least been moved to the end of that episode for the sake of giving us anything that wasn’t Bill and Sookie moping over what was next for them.
But then, those are just more questions that Buckner doesn’t have to answer now, because he’s proud of what his cast and crew pulled off and all of this backlash is “undeserved” anyway.