As readers, we know the book is almost always better than the movie. We get to build the world in our minds, and due to time limitations and the like, both big and small screen adaptations often lose a lot. (Battle of Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, how I missed you in the film.)
As a fan of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels (nee Southern Vampire Mysteries), I had a hard time adjusting to True Blood originally. The books are told from Sookie’s point of view, but in the show we’re seeing what’s happening with Tara, Sam, Jason and all the other ancillary characters.
I adjusted, and did my damnedest to separate book from screen. Still, my head exploded at the thought of King Bill. He’s not nearly powerful enough to pull that off in the books. Gripes aside, though, as I started to step back and look at True Blood as its own thing, I realized the show made some great additions to Bon Temps.
Shaken, I asked myself: Can a book-to-screen adaptation make changes for the better?
As much as I might want to gripe about the whole way Hot Shot and the werepanthers were handled, I have to give it to True Blood’s writers. They brought Jessica to Bon Temps.
When she was added to the series as punishment for Bill’s killing Longshadow to save Sookie, I wasn’t thrilled. That’s an understatement. Season one Jessica had a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect on me.
But then that changed; Jessica is a brilliant addition to the Sookieverse. As the show has progressed, I find myself looking forward to her scenes and thinking how much book Sookie would love TV Jessica.
What works here is Jessica is a stand-in for viewers. She’s learning about all this supernatural stuff. She’s a vampire in the modern setting. We may not be able to relate to Eric or Bill—they’re supposed to much older than us—but Jessica is young. Jessica gets cultural references. Jessica remembers what it is to be human. She’s our lens to the vampire experience.
Sookie gives us the impact of supernatural on a mortal. She continues to be our way to understand how ‘other’ impacts human and the stark differences. But Jessica is the way we can see how it might be to switch to the supernatural side.
In season four, Jason asks Jessica if she’d go back. She wouldn’t. She says she’s so much better than she ever was as a human. She captures our desire for something more, and really the escape genre fiction and romance readers so often crave.
I’ll be watching season five of True Blood when it premieres on June 10. And I’ll be looking forward to Jessica continuing to come into her own as a vampire. I also won’t hate it if she spends more time with Jason Stackhouse. Possibly with him not wearing a shirt.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.) Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.