With the summer comes the grim reminder of the show I once waited for every Sunday at 8pm. This isn’t a short story at all. In fact, this may be the most passionate about a topic I’ve ever been or even considered discussing. If you haven’t seen the series, good riddance, truly. If you have, maybe you’ll remember when it all went wrong and relive the anger with me. I’ve been working on this post since March, so I’m not kidding when I say that I’m very, very passionate about this topic and show. I’m quite sensitive over it, to be honest.
There is a general warning about talks of rape, abuse of the three degrees (mentally, physically, and emotionally), and spoilers. But it’s been five years or more so whatever.
Summer 2008 was a summer that I can’t exactly remember fondly but recall with some ease for one reason only: True Blood premiered. My aunt was still living in town, I was a sophomore in high school, and I had been lured into the beginning of this new HBO series called True Blood.
Growing up in my household, Anne Rice is sort of our goddess. We hold her series and books to such high esteem that though I was watching Oz and Sex and The City way before my time, Anne Rice and The Vampire Chronicles were forbidden until the time was right. My mind wouldn’t comprehend the story they said, but I always figured it was because I was still too young, too pure, and just not prepared for the tale that she was going to embark me on.
But True Blood arrived before Anne Rice was capable of being in my possession. The series promised me mystery, murder, vampires, politics, and sex galore! What more could a girl ask for?
My aunt, my grandmother, and I gathered in the living room with popcorn and the lights off when it aired. It was our mature soap opera. Lafayette being the gay man who my aunt loved and happy yelled “Yaasssss!” to. Tara being the “angry” woman who made us laugh and cry and realize that her anger was always justified. Sookie always the one trying to make sense of it all and us trying to make sense of her. Then there was Jason, the dumb brother who made us all tingle in a good way.
But then the lights stopped going off after a few seasons. There stopped being the phones on vibrate and popcorn being made. Instead we got bored, and I got angry. This was to be my Sopranos or Oz or Six Feet Under. This was my own HBO show to see from beginning to end on air and be proud of, but I wasn’t. Instead I was ruined by season four and I’ll never forgive them for that.
It would be all wrong for me to start my griping without starting off with:
Tara was treated very poorly.
I read recently on Graveyard Shift Sisters about the major difference between Tara in the books and the one in the show. For starters, in the novels of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, Tara Thornton wasn’t black. In fact, she wasn’t angry or as close to Sookie. She wasn’t estranged from her family and she wasn’t unhappy. The Tara in the show is the complete opposite. Nothing about this is wrong, really. I’m happy with the changes that were made but it’s what they did with those changes and that character is why she has managed to be first on my list.
The character of Tara experienced nothing but a world of hardship. True to her black woman nature of enduring anything and keeping her head above water, she did so ever so flawlessly but she never got that happy ending. Honestly, I really do look at the one from the books and wonder if the writers wondered how to make her the most miserable character. It began with her mother, the drunk, who never could never keep her shit together or took care of her child but instead accepted being taken care of. Then there came love for her. When it was time for all well for her, it just never did. Sam didn’t love her, though he could have. Eggs came after a while, the happiest time in her life when she wasn’t chasing after locals. Then he went. And Franklin came into the picture, and ruined her by the rape and emotional abuse, making her hatred for vampires all that justifiable.
That wasn’t enough, though. That wasn’t the end all to the horror story that was Tara’s life because making her a vampire had to be done. It wasn’t what she asked for, it was what Sookie felt to be right, to save her even though in life she never truly gave a damn about her plight. And even in the end when she was met with the love of Pam, her world was ripped away from her because she just wasn’t allowed to be happy. Fans hated her, for some reasons I linked to race and the disgusting idea of the “angry black woman” trope, but for what reasons did she have not to be angry? The entire first season focuses on her crush on Jason, Sookie’s brother, and other than perhaps a single kiss between the two, Tara never got a single good thing out of life. Tara never smiled and she damn sure never had a reason to. And that raises the question, why be so cruel to your lead black woman? To your only black woman? Why lead her character down this path of heartache making it own further valid that black woman are disrespected, underappreciated, and presumably the most unloved. Tara deserved better, and she definitely deserve to be Sookie’s friend because…
Sookie was the worst lead character in history.
There’s no way that anyone can tell me that Sookie Stackhouse was worth any of the trouble that Bill, Eric, Adele, Jason, Tara, Lafayette, Sam, or even Pam had to put themselves through for her. There’s nothing about Sookie that made her remarkable, special, or even interesting. Constantly we were met with her being chased after by Eric, by Bill, by Alcide and Sam who continued to love her even when all she ever did was remind them of the 1001 reasons to not to love her.
She wasn’t always the annoying leading character. She was once intriguing, with an ability no one could explain and a life of every small town girl who’s never seen much of the world, but it was the moment that Bill became her life and everything fell second. When William Compton became the lead of her life and nothing else seemed to even come up high in her priorities, she was lost to us. We learned she was a fairy, but still I questioned what good was that? What did that all really mean? It meant that every vampire wanted to eat her, but they couldn’t get past falling head over hills in love with her and doing the dumbest things to prove it to her when in the end she was as bland as saltines with no salt and no cheese in sight.
And for the sake of all this love that was hurting her, she blatantly ignored the feelings of every important person in her life. She never tried to empathize with Tara, or even ask her how she felt after everything constantly went to hell for her because of Spoke. She never tried to understand how rough things were for Lafayette or even Alcide, who she always claimed to be a friend but only called him when all her other men were done dealing with her whining. She never even tried to keep up with her own family, her only family she had left being her brother Jason. speaking of which, because it seems that no one ever acknowledges this but …
Jason was raped, repeatedly.
I don’t mean he was raped by all the women who threw themselves at him. Of course, he was our sex symbol of the show. He objectified himself by making it known his own worth was his body and not his mind or his personality. No, I mean the season after Sookie came back to the real world from running away to Fairy Land, Jason greeted her at her house and promptly disappeared for weeks. His sister didn’t call him (except the one time she needed him to use his cop powers for her own benefit) and she didn’t even think twice about where he went. No, in those weeks that Jason was gone, he was tied to a bed by the crystal meth-head werepanther that was Crystal and her entire trailer park of werepanther women getting raped repeatedly by teenage girls and women all aiming to have werepanther pups because he was the only fertile man they knew they could get.
We’re met with a scene of a young girl, a virgin at that, readying to straddle a man for the first time in her life and it’s her being forced to take him. Then the sickening justification for it all. To make more babies for a clan he’s no part of? He wasn’t made panther so why bother to put him through that and not better him or challenge his ethics and morals. No, it was all they become pregnant for the better of their clan and what happens when he escapes? It’s never spoken of again.
In instances when characters go through traumatic experiences and never speak of it, or even acknowledge it, it’s the fault of the writers. Period. It’s not an instance where that was just how Jason healed, or just how he coped with being used by an entire trailer park of women taking him all day everyday for weeks. How did he heal, though? He moved on to sleeping with his best friends girlfriend. Instead he constantly slept with her and never, ever, ever spoke about what happened to him. And how could a survivor relate to that? How could a victim relate to any of that? How could you obviously miss your chance to expand and grow on a character? It was the most unforgivable action in the entire series for me. That and the fact that …
Lafayette deserved so much more.
Lafayette meant the world to me because I the only ways I’ve ever felt at home and at peace was around black queer males. They were my only gay friends in high school, my only gay anything that made me feel comforted in my sexuality that I hid for most of all my life. Lafayette was exactly like my friends then, flamboyant and blunt, proud and shameless. Being before my days of Tumblr proudly informing me of the mistreatment of queers in television and films, I was able to look back and realize that it wasn’t just because he was queer but because, well, he wasn’t Sookie.
He found love, real love that he never had in his life before and much like Tara, they died. And after that, the only plot progression for him was making him a medium possessed by an old house maid who lost her son. How cheap. How little was that after opening his world to so much and then only giving him so little. It wasn’t that his life was filled with so little, it was just that as a character, as a person, as a leading character in this show and being one of the only true queer characters … he got nothing. Everyone else was fluid sexually, but Lafayette was who he was and after experiencing love and losing love, it made it feel like that was his only thing in life. That Jesus, his lover, was all that he would ever have and that him with Jesus is all he could ever be. That singular relationship defined Lafayette but he was more, and could have continued to be more. And he wasn’t.
And on the topic of beloved characters …
Eric’s amnesia was terrible for me and him.
Quite frankly, all of season four was a grade A mess but what a degradation of his character. It wasn’t cute or funny. It wasn’t the light hearted beauty we need when we’ve seen a man who was only vulnerable over the suicide of his maker. It was the only weakness we needed, his ability for compassion. That’s what made the storyline between him and Spoke, the love he claimed forever and ever to have for her, so beautiful because it was true.
So to have a man, a Viking of great stature babified from a witches chant was … weak. The real gripe about this is that it was the first sign of it all falling apart. It ruined me because was I always going to have to expect this weak plotline of a rather strong character. I’d be fine if tall, pale, and brooding would have gave a boyish grin at the sight of a puppy or even a baby. I would have been fine if his amnesia would have reverted him back to being a Viking. Instead, he was turned into a baby? What sense does that make?
I loved Eric deeply. I still love his character when I realize he and Pam are living a happily ever after in the new world as rich stock brokers. But that blimp in the season made me question why my series had to pull the lousy cheap gimmick. Honestly, I’d been fine with a musical episode over that. An entire dream episode where the piss poor image of Eric giggling and pinching Sookie’s butt wasn’t seared into my mind.
The writers have messed up a lot, but in the series itself ….
Bill was why everything was so terrible.
Constantly, season after season we were met with Sookie falling in love with this man over and over and over again, and why? What for? We were first shown Bill as this new vampire in town and capturing Sookie’s heart by first glance. From that moment on I loved him, I was in love with him on a deep spiritual level until I wasn’t. It’s hard to say when but so much unfolded about him that every single thing that went wrong for everyone else came back to being Bill’s fault and how were we supposed to continue to care about him?
There was season four when he tied himself up in the powers of Marnie and the likes of Portia. Then season five that ended with him becoming a God and still somehow trying to be in Sookie’s life. Then finally, finally, he was dead and leaving Sookie to live a life on her own accord without having to worry about him lurking around every corner to come and ruin it. But then in the end we’re met with the question, “then what the fuck was it all for?”
If she wasn’t going to love Bill and reform him and somehow make her family and friends trust him again, then what was the point? Their relationship wasn’t significant other than him leading her into the throes of bs and heartache and headaches. He’s put her life on the line thousands of times and for what? To die? To be the one to sacrifice himself to make her happy when, quite frankly, he could have done that a long time ago.
I gave up on this show when the show gave up on its viewers. When the writers decided that its characters weren’t worth fleshing out and really digging into other than the constant showing of Sookie’s love life, or a lack thereof, then what was really the point? I loved True Blood until True Blood stopped loving me. Once the show gave up on giving me what I never expected as it did in its first few seasons, why didn’t they just walk away to start fresh? I loved this show and it failed me so many times that, honestly, I don’t even feel as though this list is complete.
Now there are rumors, of sorts, about a musical, and why? Why are we forced to relive this pain and disappointment over and over again? I’ll never forget those summer days and those quiet Sundays after wolfing down dinner to enjoy a pleasant show, but I don’t think I’ll ever give a show that much of myself again. Game of Thrones failed me, as did Weeds, and now Orange Is The New Black. I’m ruined and I can blame True Blood for it all. Maybe it’s my expectations for writers to treat their characters well, but maybe that’s just asking for too much.