Forbes are reporting that True Blood showrunner Alan Ball is stepping down from writing the smash-hit vampire drama, although he'll still be creatively involved with the show. There's no official word on why he's decided to step down, although the Forbes article suggests exhaustion, a desire to do new things, and a contractual issue with HBO. I'm sure there'll be more to come on this story, and I'll most likely update this post with the latest news.
But, if this is definitely true, I'm so glad. There's no doubt Alan Ball did a great job adapting Charlaine Harris' trivial novels for a prestige cable network like HBO, and I really enjoyed the first two seasons of what he created, but everything since has seen vastly diminishing returns.
Of course, the big problem for True Blood has been how it's been getting creatively worse (too many characters, weak stories, a glut of ridiculous ideas), but its ratings have always remained strong and the core fanbase remain so passionate and upbeat. So there's been no real reason for HBO to step in and demand changes from Ball to please what's a minority critical voice within its audience.
Maybe Ball had a moment of self-awareness and realized he'd become more of a hindrance to True Blood's development, and has done the wise thing and just stepped down? If so, I applaud him for that decision. Or maybe he's just become bored with the daily grind of imagining crazy things to happen to the denizens of Bon Temps? Either way, with Ball gone, I hope whoever takes over will bring True Blood back down to earth, trim the regular cast considerably, and give its key actors material that's worth their time. I mean, Anna Paquin's a great young actress, so it's rather sad that her most famous role is in a television show that's mostly beneath her talent.
It's known that Ball's been developing a new TV series called Wichita about a "Kansas surgeon who inadvertently becomes the focal point of a contemporary political, cultural and ethical war", so maybe that will be his new focus post-True Blood?
True Blood will return for its fifth season this summer on HBO.