From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Top Ten Differences Between True Blood And Twilight

Vampires, vampires, vampires. They’re all over the place in the media nowadays, with more on the way in the form of upcoming The Vampire Diaries. So how do two of the most popular manifestations, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, which has appeared in the form of book and then movie, and True Blood, the HBO series inspired by Charlaine Harris’ excellent Sookie Stackhouse books, differ? I decided to take a look and list the most important.

1. Sparkliness: Okay, let’s get this one right out of the way. In True Blood, the vampires do not sparkle. In Twilight they do, and I personally find that absolutely ridiculous. To me, the idea of sparkling menace does not work. This is also why, it turns out in Meyer’s universe, vampires avoid sunlight. Because they sparkle unnaturally in it. Serious, this seems mindblowingly stupid to me and I take my hat off to Meyer for managing to get away with it. Now we can move on.

2. True accents: Here it’s a matter of taste. I like the flavor of the speech in True Blood a lot better. There’s something infinitely sexy about the way Bill Compton, as played by Stephen Moyer, says “Sookie,” hissing it out in his intense, tortured manner. Maybe it’s the fact that I live in the vicinity of Forks that makes the accents in Twilight invisible to me, but I’ll take that sultry-flavored drawl anytime.

3. Strong secondary female characters that are alive: True Blood has them, on both sides of hero/villain. Twilight doesn’t seem to and it’s as though Bella can only really relate to dead women. I must confess here that I started this with a strong True Blood bias – I don’t like the messages for young women that Twilight preaches and have written about that here before, and this is one of them that I find puzzling and distasteful.

4. Music: Again, I’m drawn much more to True Blood‘s version, including the kickass opening music by Jace Everett, along with songs from Lucinda Williams, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Allen Touissaint. The music in True Blood sounds more real, less polished, and a whole lot more filled with juicy human goodness.

5. Target audience age and shameless pandering to it: Twilight‘s biggest fans are teenage girls, while True Blood is shooting for a riper demographic. While I admire the way Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen, looks without a shirt, I also feel a little dirty and pedophiliac about that admiration in a way that doesn’t pop up when I’m ogling Ryan Kwanten, playing Sookie’s lusty brother Jason, strutting about in a pair of tight white briefs.

6. Fangs. Twilight‘s vampires don’t have them, just sharp, strong teeth. Meyer’s discarded a lot of the traditional vampire notions, and that’s fine, but sometimes the substitutions she’s made are a bit unpalatable.

7. Disparate economic classes: True Blood‘s characters are primarily working class: bartenders and drugstore clerks, road workers and waitresses, while Twilight‘s never seem to worry much about the rent. Indeed, in True Blood, the richer you are, the more unsavory you are, like the hypocritical senator or the mysterious Marianne with her palatial living quarters, table full of non-local fruit, and drawer full of money.

8. Universe: In True Blood, Sookie says to Sam, after he’s revealed he’s a shapeshifter (not a werewolf, he’s at pains to mention), “What else is true?” “All of it,” he says, thereby opening up a giddy range of possibilities. In Twilight, we avoid this question even though there’s some werewolves there too, closing the door on a closet full of bogeymen, kelpies, faeries, and sundry yetis. Feh. I like my supernaturalia in mixed flavors.

9. Sexualities: Speaking of mixed flavors, Meyer’s world is pretty vanilla, and strongly against pre-marital sex. One of True Blood‘s best characters is Lafayette. He is a classic, sassy gay male but never cliche, and always wonderful. I’ll let him speak for himself with a clip from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxSWnNO0m3k

10. Last, but certainly not least, the writing: I know I’m outraging a lot of fans, but the dialogue in True Blood is entertaining and lively in a way that Twilight lacks. Anna Paquin’s soft, earnest drawl speaks words that are wry and sympathetic and real. Unlike Bella, she has no desire to become undead, and perhaps this is why her speech is considerably more vivid and appealing.


Cat Rambo is the fiction editor of Fantasy Magazine. Her website appears at http://www.kittywumpus.net. Her collection Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight appears this summer from Paper Golem Press and can be pre-ordered here. She reads omnivorously and prefers ninjas to pirates.

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17 Responses »

  1. As much as I enjoyed reading the Twilight series (the first time), the second time around, I’m noticing a lot more stupidity. Like… melodrama, much?

    Seconded on the sparkly and fangs.

  2. I’m so totally with you on this – I agreed on every single point. Nicely done!

  3. Don’t forget advertising. True Blood has some really funny ad crossovers with GEICO, Monster.com, and Gillette.

  4. Yeah, I’d forgotten about the ad crossovers. Chalk another one up for True Blood there.

  5. I dig True Blood but have avoided Twilight like the plague. The first I heard about Twilight, I was unwittingly at a Twilight pre-release “party” at Hot Topic at the mall and was surrounded by bubblegum-goth keening teenage girls. I thought Twilight was some kind of born-again Christian rock-pop band, but I guess I wasn’t so far off, being written by a milquetoast Mormon and all.

    Having not seen Twilight and having no basis for my opinion, I nonetheless think it highly suspect that the immortal vampire would be mooning for teenage girls while adamantly abstaining from any consummation. I can see how the blood lust might usurp other lusts, like in the Anne Rice books, but just prolonging this mating ritual with a schoolgirl when you’re an ancient immortal parasite? That’s just a bit too twisted for my tastes.

  6. I was laughing all the way through this. It’s so true. Now, I love Twilight, I admit to being an avid fan (midnight book sells/movie openings and all) but I agree with you on all the points. True Blood is all around a better series. It has much more depth and diversity that Meyer seems to avoid. Also, the female characters are much stronger and Sookie does not depend on Bill to make her very existence like Bella does. I love the stronger characters.

  7. I hate True Blood. Twilight is soo much better. I saw True Blood once and hated it. On the other hand when I saw Twilight, I completly fell in love with the plot and the mysterious characters.

  8. GO STEPHENIE MEYER!!!

  9. ok so here’s how i see it…. Everyone is entitled to their opinions so i will give mine. I’ve probably seened TrueBlood 2x and its a good series but however i’ll stick to Twilight and i’m not a teenie anymore i’m24 and have three kids of my own. I guess i’m a sucker for love, thats most of the plot on Twilight series…I will however agree with everyone on the fact that Bella does depends a lot on Edward which i wouldn’t encourage that to any girl that reads the series. Women should be able to care for themselves..but we have to understand that was her first true love and believe me that i understand how she felt.But like i said everyone is entitled to their opinions so well done…From A Twilight Fan… FYI: not everyone who’s into Twilight is a teenager…

  10. I appreciate the comments, Valerie and j.c.!

  11. I’m another one who tried Twilight and couldn’t get past the ridiculous plotting. I prefer my heroines to be strong and independent, with a compassionate core, like Sookie. Your comments here and in your other column about the messages Stephanie Meyer sends young women are spot on, IMO. The Edward/Bella relationship disturbed me tremendously. In True Blood Sookie is in the throes of her first love (vampire Bill Compton), but her world is larger than that.

    Mel
    True-Blood.net

  12. Wow, where to start.

    1) LOVED the article, I agree whole-heartedly with all of it.

    2) Sparkles…COME ON! I seriously said this, out loud, in the theater (never read the books so I didn’t “know” before hand)…it was one of THE most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen from a “vampire” flick and as an avid paranormal/horror fan..that’s saying a lot.

    3) True Blood takes a slight departure from the books (which I love and have read all of them) but keeps the overall feeling and is deep and has way more character dimension than Twilight, which barely scratched the surface of what a human/vamp would even act like. It was like watching puppets.

    I mean, Bella is so devoid of feeling, shes like a zombie most of the movie and the acting..don’t get me started. But who knows someone for a week and is all I LOVE YOU and is ready to give everything up for them. It was melodramatic to the extreme..almost the entire movie (Edward shows his sparkly side and it tries to be all suspenseful) I mean..seriously? L A M E

    I could go on and on but, its all been said above :) Granted, Twilight is basically for kids and True Blood is for adults, but Harry Potter is aimed at “kids” too and those are some great movies *though the books are better*

  13. Here’s what I suggest: get the True Blood musicians, like Jace Everett, to do the music for Twilight, too. That will balance things out a little!

    –Max

  14. I used to like Twilight, but then I thought about it and realized the message it sends to young girls. I am a huge fan of vampire stories, and I recently began watching True Blood. I love it! This article highlights everything I dislike about Twilight and everything I enjoy about True Blood. Wonderful work! Also, I was wondering where I could find the True Blood crossover ads?

  15. Agreed with all points. Twilight is extremely subpar. I’ve only read the first book, but to me it seemed to be several hundred pages of Bella swooning over the beautiful Edward and wondering why he’s interested in her.

    And I couldn’t figure it out either. Her primary personality traits appear to be clumsiness, insecurity and lack of any instincts for self-preservation.

    While reading Twilight, I kept wanting to talk back to the book. No, vampires don’t sparkle. They don’t play baseball. They don’t get excited about the prom, unless it’s to feed. Who is Stephenie Meyer to pull the fangs out of hundreds of years of vampire myths?

    Ugh. Part of the mystique and sexiness of vampires are that they not like us. They may be able to go from here to there in a flash, but it’s not because they are really good runners. They are magical beings, straddling the line between life and death. They’re not hawt.

    But what drives me absolutely NUTS about Twilight is how it shamelessly rips off The Southern Vampire Mysteries on which True Blood was based (and which came out years before Twilight). In both series, one main character can read minds of everyone EXCEPT the other main character, which leads to them getting together. One character is a vampire, one is human. Seriously…this is just shameless.

    I could go on and on here. There’s just so much wrong with Twilight. How exactly have the Cullens managed in Forks, never aging? I guess the Cullen kids just repeat senior year endlessly, and no one really notices. And I’m sorry…Edward lives off of mountain lions? That is just freaking wrong.

    It’s so depressing to me that this is a best seller. I think I’m going to go write a book about really bright zombies who’ve learned to eat jelly molds instead of brains and smell like roses.

  16. Maybe its because Im a 31 year old male, but Twilight was so freaking boring I couldn’t finish it. Beyond beautiful imagery, it had nothing interesting for me. True Blood on the other hand is much more complex, and rich with different layers of subtext. The story telling is also just all around better from a “fundamentals-of-compelling-storytelling” point of view. But comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges simply because they share the quality of being fruit. Just cuz they both have vampires, doesn’t mean they are at all the same kind of fare, they are not. TB for adults, TL is for like, fans of the Jonas Brothers and weepy 18 year olds.

  17. I have to agree that True blood is the better of the two series. Lafayette is my favorite character, with Sam Marlotte coming in a close second. Twilight, to me, was an affront to hundreds of years of vampire lore for the sole purpose of profit. Sparkling vampires? Please. Vampires don’t sparkle. Faeries sparkle. To me, this makes Edward a blood-sucking faerie (In more ways than one). Meyer’s depiction of vampires literally, to me, destroyed the masculine light that True Blood and prior vampire series, books, and films shed on these creatures of the night. To me, Edward is nothign but a brooding, eternally teenaged emo kid who can’t decide whether or not he wants to be with the girl or use her as a midnight snack.

    Bill Compton, on the other hand, is a civil war veteran whom is tryign to cope with a past he’s not proud of, and the loss of a family that is still near and dear to his heart at the hands of some tawdry vampire harlot who was too self-centered to care about his life or his feelings. Seeing Bill confront that woman and finally have the courage to tell her off seemed more real to me than most other vampire lore since Interview. We get to see a part of Bill that still clings to his humanity. You don’t see that with Edward. With Sookie being a Fae, Bill has a chance to be human again, or at least see the light of day without bursting into flames.

    I’m not too thrilled with how MEyer chose to leave out an entire plethora of possible races and occult belief structures with her books and the films.

    True Blood introduced us to a new sort of series, where Fae, Vampires, Werewolves, Werecats, and Human demi-gods are as realistic as it can get. I like how the series blurrs the lines between all of these fantastic realms of reality and illusion. Twilight just lacks any real appeal for me.

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