True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…

When penning the fifth season of True Blood, the frightening yet disarmingly funny vampire drama that returns to HBO this Sunday, creator Alan Ball found inspiration (in all places!) by watching the scary-in-their-own-right presidential primaries.

“My first instinct about going into religion and politics was from watching Michele Bachmann, who thinks she has a direct line to God.” Ball told EW. “What would happen if she became president? A lot of right-wingers would like to see a theocracy in America. From there we thought, ‘What would a vampire theocracy be and how would you justify it? What kind of impact would it have on humans?’”

The result is a battle between the Tru Blood-sipping Authority, headed by Roman Zimojic (Christopher Meloni), and religious extremists like the Sanguinistas, who believe humans were created by God for one purpose only: to serve as a hearty meal. “Sanguine is from the Latin word for blood, and I was trying to find a name that like a real movement,” explains Ball.

We think it works!

To kick off another year that includes the most ambitious sets to date (wait ’til you check out the latest hipster hangout, courtesy of production designer Suzuki Ingerslev), EW shot not one, not two, but eleven covers featuring the irresistible denizens of Bon Temps. What’s that, you say? Too heart wrenching to settle on an Alexander Skarsgard cover when you’re dying for the latest likeness of the smoking Stephen Moyer? Have no fear! Get all 11! To collect all the True Blood issues, click here. And for an exclusive behind-the-scenes video preview of season 5, head over to EW on Facebook.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on four cover shots from our shoot in Los Angeles below (to check out all 11 covers, click here), and check out our behind-the-scenes gallery with even more sizzling images of the cast.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

To find out what else is in store for the Bon Temps crew in Season 5, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, June 8.

Entertainment Weekly is now available on most tablets, including the iPad, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Think of it like the EW you already love, but on steroids: With our digital magazine, you can buy the recommended movies, albums, books, and DVDs while you’re reading about them. Plus, you can watch music videos and film trailers, and find movie showtimes in your neighborhood. Current subscribers can access the digital version of EW for free by downloading the EW app (also free) and logging in using your name and address or the information on your subscription label. Single copies of the magazine are also for sale through the app if you prefer to read EW that way. If you’re not a subscriber, but would like to become one, you can do so by going to

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Episode Recaps

True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…
True Blood

Sookie, Bill, Eric, Lafayette, Sam and the other residents Bon Temps deal with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shape-shifters—not to mention romance and drama

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