The Producer: Alan Ball

Water coolers have seen more chatter than they had in ages since True Blood debuted on HBO in September 2008. By the airing of the show’s second season this summer, Alan Ball’s take on novelist Charlaine Harris’s vampire books was a bona fide hit. Ball, as the out writer-producer and sometime director of the series he has called “popcorn TV for smart people,” injected tales of vampires assimilating into society with analogies to the gay rights struggle. “I wanted to find a fun, irreverent way to show how easy it is to disenfranchise a group,” he says.

The Six Feet Under creator says the gay themes on his latest show—which include a subplot about a Westboro Baptist–like church—are simply topical. “If it was 50 years ago, the analogies would have been about African-Americans.”

Ball made a point to depict Lafayette, True Blood’s stereotype-busting gay black character, differently from Harris’s victim-like description. “I was not interested in him being effeminate and vulnerable,” he says, adding that Lafayette will partner up next season. Considering that Ball shepherded TV’s most unflinching portrayal of a gay relationship with Six Feet Under’s David and Keith, we don’t doubt for a second that Lafayette’s relationship will be riveting.

Tags: film