The presidential campaigns of Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann provided the inspiration behind the latest season of the HBO supernatural drama True Blood, showrunner Alan Ball has said.

True Blood, which includes a number of openly gay and bisexual characters, returned for a fifth season last week.

(Related: True Blood: Ryan Kwanten says his character has grown.)

In a wide-ranging interview with, Ball described the show as a metaphor about “getting to explore the dynamic of 'fear of the other' in the way that isn't really that serious because of the nature of the show.”

“You don't need a show saying hating gays and lesbians is wrong. True Blood is mostly about entertainment and escape, that's been the joy of five years, after another show that looked at mortality,” he said, referring to Six Feet Under.

On the new season, Ball said he began mapping it out by “watching the Republican primaries, watching Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and asking what would it be like to have a theocracy in America – which is way more terrifying than any fictional monster could ever be.”

When asked, “Why Rick Santorum?” Ball answered: “What's terrifying is how many people agree with him.”