Many fans apparently do not agree with me on this, but I think that Alan Ball is a genius for having changed some of the story lines in the Sookie Stackhouse novels written by Charlaine Harris in the hit HBO show, True Blood.
Just a few things that would have been different if he had stuck to the books:
1. Lafayette dies in the beginning of the second book. What would this show be without lovable and eccentric Lafayette? Where would Alan Ball get his homosexual storyline from? He could use vampire homo-erotica, but somehow that would just not be as endearing. Also the sale of “V” would have to be shown differently if Lafayette was not there. The actor who plays Lafayette is a favorite of mine and I love the dynamic between him and Jesus.
2. Tara only gets introduced late in book 2 – “Dead in Dallas”. Tara has grown on me and the story of her mother and the dysfunction of their relationship is a powerful one. The vampire Franklin kidnaps her and almost turns her. I have not yet read anything about that in the third novel. Maybe it will still be there, but so far it seems like this is an add on that Alan Ball has dreamed up to make the story more dramatic and to have more opportunities to bring the frailty of the contact between humans and vampires to the fore. How does one handle rape and kidnapping when a vampire is the criminal? These questions are so much more compelling when portrayed in the way Alan Ball has decided to do.
3. In the show Sam stole from the maenad and she is there to exact a tribute from him – his life for her gift to her God, Bacchus. In the books, Sam is having sex with her and running around in the woods with her, apparently completely unafraid and not capable of seeing her for what she is. She also does not try to kill him as happens in the show, but kills almost all of the participants in an orgy, and then wanders away. No one kills her at all and even the vampires make sure to pay tribute to her.
4. There are organized shape-shifters in Dallas that help Sookie escape from the Fellowship of the Sun. They do not show any signs of wanting to blend into society at all and one of them contact Sam after Sookie mentions he is a shape-shifter.
5. Godric does not seem to be Eric’s maker. Maybe that happens later, but it gives Ball the opportunity to delve deeper into Eric’s character and really get us to fall in love with him. Godric does meet the sun, but this is because he feels extreme remorse for having killed children and leading a monstrous existence for a very long time. He is in fact from a nest in California. He helps Sookie escape as well and she does spend his last few moments with him.
6. The funniest omission is the character “Bubba”. This vampire is basically a turning gone wrong. When Elvis died, a vampire working at the morgue noticed a spark of life and turned him, but something went wrong and he is quite stupid and brutal. Bubba is basically passed around from area to area to do odd jobs for the other vampires. If Alan Ball used this character, it would have seemed corny.
Allan Ball also took basic story lines and combined them to happen at the same time. Nothing can keep the audience more enthralled than heightened levels of tension in more than one place in a story, and Ball uses this device brilliantly. In the books, the maenad and her effect is almost an afterthought, but he brilliantly weaves this into the story and makes her more powerful than the reader of the book could ever dream.
Also, the constant interplay between Sookie, Bill and Eric is handled brilliantly in both the books and the show. Sam is also weaved into the fabric of Sookie’s love life and there is no consensus on who she should be with. There is a very big group that feels that Eric and Sookie should be together, and since Eric is the sexiest creature for me as well, I fall into that category too. Bill is a shadowy character that one feels less sympathy for in both the books and the show, and of course Sam would be the rational choice if Sookie really thought about it, but unfortunately Ball would not allow her that.
There is no other director and writer that could have taken these books and changed them into compelling and fast-paced television like Ball does. He has stayed true to the voices of the characters and have brought them alive with witty and well thought out dialogue. He has kept those characters we love and has made them feel like family, albeit a slightly dysfunctional one. He addresses social issues well in the framework created by Charlaine Harris and the combination of her basic story and his insight into humanity works well to create a hit show that is constantly improving its ratings.