Whether it's the forbidden thrill or the lure of immortality and hot sex, vampires have always fascinated, from Dracula to Anne Rice's Lestat to the sexy bloodsuckers of TV's Buffy, Angel and Moonlight, and the hero of the Twilight book series. Banking on viewers' unlimited "blood" thirst, Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball has adapted Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark for HBO into an fascinating series centering on the relationship between a telepathic waitress and a 173-year-old vampire, and it's as steamy as the humid Louisiana bayou it's set in.
In this parallel universe, the invention of synthetic blood has allowed vampires to come out of the coffin, as it were, though only at night, but they remain objects of suspicion and prejudice. Bar waitress Sookie Stackhouse, whose thought-reading powers make her feel similarly isolated and "other," finds an instant connection with the new vamp in town, the darkly handsome Bill Compton.
"He's sexy and dangerous. What girl doesn't like a bad boy?" asks Anna Paquin, analyzing her character's attraction to Bill (Stephen Moyer), labeling the lure "sexy, unknown and mysterious." (While she's constantly bombarded by the thoughts of others, she can't hear Bill's, something she finds both intriguing and peaceful.)
"He's from another time. He's experienced things that she can't even imagine," notes Paquin. "He's seen whole lifetimes of things. She instantly connects with him in a way that she's never been able to with anyone else, and I think that's what everyone's looking for: to meet that person who makes you feel like you can just be yourself."
But as with any forbidden romance, there are obstacles. "We get to see the roller coaster of that relationship because having a vampire as a boyfriend isn't always the simplest of things to choose," Paquin points out. First off, there's what Alan Ball calls "the dangers and terrors of intimacy." In their case, "intimacy involves feeding, and he's so much stronger than her."