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The True Blood Story, So Far (All Seasons Discussion)


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#1

TWoP Bayliss

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Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:08 PM

I agree that they need to move the characters around to make room for all of the players in the ensemble (and I'm sure it's a very complicated dance to choreograph), but they could have done so without turning Sookie into a petulant 12 year old, so I have to go with Door Number 2 and the theory of crappy writing in episodes 10 and 11. One of the things I really like about this series is that it shows more than just Sookie's point of view, unlike the books. Focusing just on the Sookie and Bill romance would get boring very quickly, but the ratio is off when Jason gets 4 minutes of sexcapades and Sookie and/or Bill get 1 or 2 minutes if that. Let's even it up a bit and try to write consistently for the characters. There isn't enough Lafayette in the show either and after seeing the finale, there may not be any more Lafayette in the show.

Quoting to start the thread.

That's basically what I'm saying, though: it's not really "unfair" if people get moved offstage that way. Writing "consistently" means presenting the story in a balanced way, which I think is what happened.

Plenty of people hated Tara when the story was about Sookie/Bill (Act I) and grew to love her in Act II. Plenty of people were turned off by Jason in Act I and II, but managed to see where his story was heading by the time Amy (Act III) came around.

The trouble with Sookie's character/attitude seems to be that she wasn't important in Act III, and when we did see her, she was acting like somebody whose life was constantly in danger, who had managed to become even more of a social pariah than before, and whose family had been taken from her in a particularly brutal way.

I agree that she could have been better represented in Act II and III, or that her interaction with Sam in Act III was out of character. And if she were the main character -- or her relationship with Bill were the point of the story -- I feel like she would have been.
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#2

LazyNina

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Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:15 PM

It seems as though Sookie got progessively dumber and more immature as the season went on. Bill slowly lost his vampire balls.

Tara is just plain awesome. I can't wait to see where she goes.
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#3

SassyCat24

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Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:20 PM

TWop Bayliss: Plenty of people hated Tara when the story was about Sookie/Bill (Act I) and grew to love her in Act II.


I think I'm starting to understand where you're going Bayliss, but I think part of the problem (at least for me) is that I did read the books and never saw Sookie resort to the behavior I saw in episodes 10 and 11. However, that is probably my problem since the series is based on the books but not exactly like the books (nor would I want it to be exactly like the books). The character of Tara is totally different than the books, so I have no point of reference there.
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#4

Aunty Mib

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Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:59 PM

I think that Season 1 may have suffered from trying to follow Charlaine Harris' book TOO closely. For the most part the further the show departed from canon the more interesting the characters were. This is not a put-down of the books since Charlaine Harris has stated that she thinks that what works in the books will not work on screen.

Sookie's rich inner life and emotional turmoil simply didn't come across on screen making her seem like a flaky child rather than a deeply wounded and lonely woman. Her relationship with Bill which helped her to develop as a character in the book reduced her to being a poorly working gear in the Bill/Sookie ship. There's not much that Anna can do when so often her scene requires her to stand still with a blank face so that Sookie's telepathy can work.

Since the subplots of Jason/Amy draining a vampire or Tara visiting an exorcist weren't in the book and the first season tried to follow the book neither plot felt like it had a satisfying conclusion. If Andy were after Jason wouldn't he have found some evidence about Eddie like a GIANT SILVER BED???

But my overall impression of the show was squeeing about how good it is. Even the minor characters have the depth and complexity of real people. It's possible to feel moments of empathy with the most 'unsympathetic' characters: Malcolm mocking his hurt that Bill was avoiding him, Pam & Eric having had enough of Jessica, Sam's kicked-puppy-dog history who more or less humps Sookie's leg when given a chance, Terry's bottomless sorrow and Jason's depression that he might have killed Amy.

I'm hoping that the second (and further) season(s) will drop the plot of the books and work with what they've set up in the show.
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#5

TWoP Bayliss

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:53 AM

I think I'm starting to understand where you're going Bayliss, but I think part of the problem (at least for me) is that I did read the books and never saw Sookie resort to the behavior I saw in episodes 10 and 11.

I feel you. That's not book-Sookie. But it is show-Sookie, and strike me down but I love show-Sookie more. I enjoy a wise-cracking narrator who shares my viewpoint -- trust -- but I can't help but imagine book-Sookie translated to show as a kind of Ferris Bueller, always winking at the screen and going, "Whatcha gonna do?"

Give me six episodes of Sookie acting like a complete asshole! Why should should she be exempt when everybody else on the show does the same?
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#6

littlesheba

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 1:12 AM

TWoP Bayliss from the Bill thread: ...it seems more to me that Sookie ended up getting the "what do we do with you right now" edit...in the latter half of the season, because her complete retreat into bitchy wounded crazy not only makes complete sense, but frees up all the other characters (including Tara and Jason with Bill) to have storylines that don't directly involve her. Either it's terrible writing, or it's simply moving different characters to the forefront at different times to tell a complete story. If you view the show as a story about Bill and Sookie, that sucks. If you view them all --as AB and the production staff do, and have been vocal about that -- as almost-equal players in an ensemble, it makes more sense. She wasn't capable of doing anything other than surviving the last third of the season; Bill was. Therefore Bill got an interesting storyline, while she went into a holding pattern. Whether this could have been done better is up for debate, but if you drop the idea that Sookie is the main character and the Sookie/Bill romance is the point of the show -- which isn't even true in the books -- it's a lot easier to swallow.[font="Verdana"][size="2"]

TWoP Bayliss: The trouble with Sookie's character/attitude seems to be that she wasn't important in Act III, and when we did see her, she was acting like somebody whose life was constantly in danger, who had managed to become even more of a social pariah than before, and whose family had been taken from her in a particularly brutal way.

[/size][/font]


I know that AB has talked about TB being an ensemble show but virtually every description of the show in the media positions Sookie as the heroine. And her relationship with Bill is vampire mainstreaming in its most personal, singular manifestation. It's the Pandora's Box of the show, the catalyst for most of the action, which makes her the protagonist according to all rules of drama that I'm aware of. (The only exception to Sookie being the catalyst is the dark, flip side of the B/S relationship, which is, of course, Rene, who was clearly acting out long before Bill walked into Merlotte's -- although the B/S relationship revved up his madness.) My point is that there's a bit of a disconnect between how the show is being marketed and how the creative team views it so I can understand why many viewers are frustrated when Sookie gets shoved from the center of the action.

I'm not one of those viewers, however. With one or two exceptions in a couple of episodes, I didn't have a series-wide problem with the other characters taking center stage. In fact, I welcomed the complexity of the on-screen community and think AB & co. have done an impressive job of developing the ensemble, all of whom are compelling and interesting.

The problem that I (and I think, based on this forum, many others) have is not that Sookie was robbed of screen time but that she behaved inconsistently when she was on screen. And I think the problem is that she WAS in a "holding pattern" when none of the other characters were. If a character isn't moving forward, they're stagnating. And instead of using nuanced moments and illuminating dialogue (even loud and unpleasant ones) to show the specifics of how she was changing and (hopefully) growing *because* of her tragedy (and I don't mean that she had to rise above it and suppress her emotions, either), the show forced us, the viewers to make assumptions about the *specifics* of why she was acting the way that she was and to try and rationalize her behavior and make excuses for her because of the external events she was enduring.

Jason went through pretty much everything Sookie did (actually, worse, because he was suspected of murdering ex-girlfriends and his g-ma) but he had an interesting, dynamic story line (like Bill...and everyone else), his grieving process remained consistent with his character, and he emerged a changed person on the other side of the experience. We may not have liked where Jason was going but his actions were always rooted in his character and tethered to the arc of his story line.
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#7

TWoP Bayliss

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 2:15 AM

Firstly, I totally agree with the whole post.

My point is that there's a bit of a disconnect between how the show is being marketed and how the creative team views it so I can understand why many viewers are frustrated when Sookie gets shoved from the center of the action.

True. On the other hand, anybody expecting the first season of Heroes to be a weekly exercise in Saving The Cheerleader and thus Saving The World could complain the same.

Jason went through pretty much everything Sookie did (actually, worse, because he was suspected of murdering ex-girlfriends and his g-ma) but he had an interesting, dynamic story line (like Bill...and everyone else), his grieving process remained consistent with his character, and he emerged a changed person on the other side of the experience. We may not have liked where Jason was going but his actions were always rooted in his character and tethered to the arc of his story line.

I agree with that too, but you know what I'm going to say bouncing off that point: Jason, Sookie and Tara are all expressing the same storyline throughout, so it never bothered me which of them was upstage at any point.
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#8

littlesheba

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 3:44 AM

Jason, Sookie and Tara are all expressing the same storyline throughout, so it never bothered me which of them was upstage at any point.

It didn't bother me either. I think that's one of of the really interesting aspects of the show.

The point I was trying to make is that the argument that Sookie exhibited behavior inconsistent with her character because of the tragedies she'd experienced doesn't hold water because of Jason's story line. The Stackhouse sibs essentially experienced the same horrible tragedies but AB & the writers didn't feel that *Jason* needed to be put in a holding pattern because that was all he could handle or that his anguish and sorrow were justification for ignoring who he was fundamentally when developing his grieving character.

I agree that she could have been better represented in Act II and III, or that her interaction with Sam in Act III was out of character. And if she were the main character -- or her relationship with Bill were the point of the story -- I feel like she would have been.

When you say "better represented", I'm not sure if you're talking about writing or screen time. The latter is a non-issue for me but if you're talking about the writing, I think Sookie's character deserves as much care and attention as the other characters not because she is or is not the main character but because she's an integral part of the ensemble. If she isn't written with integrity, it weakens the whole because it creates imbalance and also makes it hard for the other actors to react to her appropriately.

Sorry if I'm belaboring the point! Even though you agreed with the post, I felt I wasn't making my point clearly. I won't be able to post for a while and I'm tired so I wanted to make sure I was making sense before I dropped off the face of the forum....

OF COURSE, ymmv!
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#9

Antigone14

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:13 AM

Littlesheba:

The problem that I (and I think, based on this forum, many others) have is not that Sookie was robbed of screen time but that she behaved inconsistently when she was on screen.


Actually, my own personal gripe was both: I felt Sookie was robbed of screentime AND she behaved inconsistently.

I'm totally onboard with the idea of an ensemble cast and what a wonderfully talented, deep ensemble cast it is. Not a a weak link in the bunch! The writing and characterization for Sookie was suckey in Episodes 10 and 11. I resent the fact that she was depicted as stupid, bitchy and disloyal to Bill and Tara.

Contrast that with the way in which the writing for Tara got better as the season progressed. There was a time around about the beginning of Act II when Tara's constant state of anger was beginning to grate. A more complex, vulnerable Tara emerged to take its place alongside Angry Tara. Sookie's character became more one-dimensional and unlikable there for awhile, though we got her back in the season finale.

And sorry, but yes Sookie and Sookie/Bill were robbed of screentime, IMO. Classic example: at the end of episode 6 when Sookie and Bill were making love for the first time in front of the fireplace, they cut to Tara going to see Lettie Mae. WTH? Bad, bad editing there. Even in an ensemble cast Bill and Sookie are nominally the leads. Why interrupt their moment like that? Also, I could have done without endless, often drawn out scenes of Jason's sexcapades in favor of longer love scenes or conversations between Bill and Sookie. We got a nearly five minute scene with Jason and Amy's picnic and discussing organic food while Eddie moaned in the background; Bill and Sookie's scenes average one to two minutes. Not fair.

TWoP Bayliss: I have no problem with other characters taking center stage in some of the episodes. I do take umbrage though when characters or S/Ls that I don't care about take center stage. Though I admired Adina Porter's performance as Lettie Mae, the demon story arc with Lettie Mae and Tara received way too much prominence and was too drawn out. I would much rather have seen more interaction between Sookie, Jason and Gran before they killed Gran. The four minute scene between Tara and Lettie Mae following Gran's funeral was way too long and was one of the reasons that episode really dragged in the middle. Because too much attention/time was spent on some things, others were overlooked. It would have been nice to have one final (probably hilarious) scene between Bill and the Tacky Trio before the rednecks set the house on fire. How did Bill get away from them? And we never did get to find out how Bill felt about their demise -- regret, relief or both?

And finally, there was way too little of Pam and Eric. It would have been an easy thing (at least in my book) to truncate the Lettie Mae and Jason sexcapades story arcs and scenes and throw a few more lines to Bill, Sookie, Lafayette, Eric and Pam...

Edited by Antigone14, Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:23 AM.

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#10

kirshpgh

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:59 AM

It seems as though Sookie got progessively dumber and more immature as the season went on. Bill slowly lost his vampire balls.

My problem with Sookie was that she was so passive at times. It just seemed odd to me that Sookie apparently did not have concern for her sole remaining family member or BFF. Things you’d think she’d be curious about (Jason trying to take the silver from the house or Tara after the drunk-in-a-prom-dress scene) were just left with no follow-up. Could the writers not find her voice?

As for Bill, I don’t think he lost his balls, it was just that later in the season he had to cover his ass in the mortal and vampire worlds. He not only had to play the gentleman-vampire for the humans, he also had to tow the vamp-company line (even if he was snarky with Pam & Eric).

What's odd to me is that I can relate more to Bill than Sookie: Even if he is not human-he's trying to make a home in Bon Temps, he's got a lot of nuts to deal with, and damnit he's frustrated.
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#11

Aunty Mib

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 1:52 PM

And finally, there was way too little of Pam and Eric. It would have been an easy thing (at least in my book) to truncate the Lettie Mae and Jason sexcapades story arcs and scenes and throw a few more lines to Bill, Sookie, Lafayette, Eric and Pam...


That ends up contradicting your original point. Eric and Pam were irrelevant to the central plot of Who is Killing the Best Fangbangers of Bon Temps? Jason's Sex Capades (I'm now imaging figure skating) established Jason as a character and drove a lot of the plot.

Virtually everything involving Fangtasia (a musical ride in Disney World), especially Amy, could have been left until the second story arc. Mind you, I enjoyed all of these story lines and thought that often Pam was the best thing in the episode. But I would have rather have seen a lot more of Terry, Hoyt and Rene who had all been plausible suspects in the main plot. For example, what role had Rene played in instigating the arson of the Tacky Trio? How about a short conversation between Arlene and Terry about how Terry had known killers but hadn't picked that up about Rene? Or for that matter, a scene where Rene says something and Terry gives him a puzzled look. They could have put out a few red herrings about Hoyt, isn't he too sweet to be true? Hoyt's mother seems to be channeling Mrs. Bates. Rene seems to have been Hoyt's only friend, it would have been nice to have had a scene where Hoyt is mourning/missing him.
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#12

DeNile Queen

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 2:59 PM

I watched the entire first season, and I'm still not sure how I feel about this show. I also read Dead Until Dark. I went to the True Blood panel with Alan Ball at Comic-Con, so I was already a little invested in the show before it premiered.

There are small things I just never quite got -- like how could Sookie drink Bill's blood to be healed, but not have nearly the hallucinogenic reaction that Jason had with just one drop? She had a bit of one, but considering she drank enough to swallow (probably more than the entire vial Jason drank), she certainly didn't feel it the same way. I think the reaction to the vamp blood was portrayed way over the top. It comes across as more of a "strengthener" in the book, which makes more sense to me.

Another quibble I have is the constant attempts to equate the vampire minority with gay rights. Sorry, Mr. Ball, I just can't see it. Gays don't feed on straights, potentially murdering them. They don't look down on us as a lesser species. Am I supposed to think like Sookie and be angry when people don't trust vampires? Are you kidding me? They're pretty terrifying, what with the glamoring (Sookie at first was annoyed that someone mentioned the glamoring as being something to be frightened of, as if it was a myth. But it's real, and it's dangerous for humans). And the kidnapping of young girls and forcing them to become vampires. And the feeding off of people. Oh, and murdering them, too. True, humans are mean to vampires, too (Amy, for instance--hate!). But two wrongs, blah blah blah...

Because of this, Sookie seemed more naive than open-minded to me, especially in the beginning. Bill's character ended OK, but I don't think of him as all that hot. He's OK with Sookie, but I didn't like the way he terrified the policeman who pulled him over early on in the season. Pretty creepy.

Sookie being special--yes, what with the mind-reading, but Bill and others keep talking about her like she's special, period, in other ways. I just don't see why. She's OK, but I don't have strong feelings for her one way or the other. I would think Eric, who's seen zillions of chicks throughout history, would be pretty immune to her feminine charms.

Jason (who I also don't find particularly hot) and Amy took over far too much of the story in the second half, but I really loved the vampire they kidnapped and am annoyed he was murdered. Poor guy. He never could catch a break. So glad Amy bought it, she really was a psycopath.

Bummed grams died, even though she died in the book, too.

Tara--I don't think she's in the first book, but if she is, she left no impression. Tara in the TV show, however. Awesome! My favorite character. She's really interesting and I want to see what happens to her next. Her mother is a real piece of work, isn't she?

I'm going to miss Lafayette if he bought it. I liked him, too. Interesting character, and he sure is a scene stealer.

Sam is more interesting now that his shape-shifting ability is part of the story. I hope he finds someone else so he doesn't spend his time mooning after Sookie.

I don't know if Alan Ball plans to follow the plot of the books or not. I plan to read a few more over the break--one takes place in Dallas, so I'm thinking he won't be moving production there, but you never know -- he could include that mystery as part of a season.

Edited by DeNile Queen, Nov 26, 2008 @ 3:02 PM.

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#13

OrchidLady

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 5:19 PM

To me it's not that Sookie didn't get enough screen time but that Bill and Sookie together did not get enough screen time. As Antigone points out the length of scenes is quite measurable and comparable - their scenes were shorter and frequently rudely interrupted. I've seen a number of posters aren't interested in the B/S ship or find them boring together, and they might feel differently with more B/S screen time OR if the relationship had been fleshed out as much as say Tara & Lettie Mae more people might feel the B/S love and see them as central characters.

Now a seperate issue is the writing for Sookie in Ep's 10 and 11, which I have nothing new to add just agreement. I truly hope that the creative team pays some attention to fan feedback because they really dropped the ball on her characterization.

I do like Tara's storyline, it was raw, real, and incredbily acted. Anyone who is a daughter of a screwed up parent knows how true that story was. Jason's story though only became interesting to me around Eddie, the rest of it felt like a massive sponge of screen time taking away from other stories and characters I'd like to see more of. They are also setting him up to continue to be stupid for S2 which annoys me greatly - I really hope instead he is going to be a spy in FotS.

In the end I still overall love the show and will of course tune in next time. But I wish Alan Ball & co. to remember that when I click the extended information button to get details on an episode in Comcast OnDemand two actors are listed Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.
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#14

Holly_L

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 5:46 PM

There are small things I just never quite got -- like how could Sookie drink Bill's blood to be healed, but not have nearly the hallucinogenic reaction that Jason had with just one drop? She had a bit of one, but considering she drank enough to swallow (probably more than the entire vial Jason drank), she certainly didn't feel it the same way. I think the reaction to the vamp blood was portrayed way over the top. It comes across as more of a "strengthener" in the book, which makes more sense to me.


I can kinda fan-wank this by saying that vampire blood is different if drunk straight from the vampire, possibly with intentionality to heal on the vampire's part involved. I seem to recall that Bill also says the vampires tried to keep that aspect of V quiet, and if healing happened whenever someone took V as a drug, I would think someone would have figured it out. Possibly, V also works to heal first, and only has drug-type reactions as a secondary reaction; so Sookie, with her serious injuries, needed almost all of the V to heal.

I think there is a lot left unclear about the nature of vampires, and am also confused by the vampire/gay parallels. A lot of the vamps that we've seen on the show have been pretty malicious or at least cruelly indifferent (in the case of, for example, Pam/Eric at the Tribunal) towards humans and their suffering in one way or the other, the main exceptions being Bill and Eddie, and possibly the spokesvamp on TV, although we have no sense of her off-air. Of course, many of those malicious vampires were only seen in the crowd scene at the tribunal, so we don't have much to go on. But if that represents what the majority of vampires are actually like, I don't see how people wouldn't have figured that out and be even more anti-vampire than many, including those in the anti-vampire church, already are. If it's indeed true that most vampires are like those at the tribunal, and have no problem with taking a girl off the street, wouldn't humans have figured this out? Could vampires really hide all their wrongdoing? Or maybe this incident with the girl was really isolated, a once in a year event or something. But there's still the vampires like Malcolm, et al., who are apparently preying on humans.

At least given what we've been shown, to me, granting vampires marriage and/or other rights only makes sense if most of the vampires we've seen are actually a tiny, tiny minority (like the percentage of serial killers among humans, or something). As it is, most vampires in this world seem pretty scary and I don't understand why they're not a threat. Is there supposed to be something about the portrayal that actually invalidates what we've been shown, e.g., to make the gay parallel work, and show why vampires are not actually threatening human institutions and human lives? I think the only way that could work is if institutions like the vampire tribunal or vampires in nests like Malcolm, et al., actually represent only a tiny number of vampires, that most vampires are not like the ones we've seen so far, and that the other vampires have agreed to help eliminate the tribunals, and bring any vampire wrongdoing to the authorities (and to treat murder/kidnapping of humans as crimes).

edited to add: With respect to the wrongdoing by humans towards vampires also shown on the show: Amy; the guys who burned up Malcolm and the others. On the one hand, I can see where the gay parallel might work a bit there. Amy does what she does because she thinks vampires are not part of life, or whatever; the redneck guys are scared and drunk and lashing out. But unlike with gay-bashing, where the fear from the redneck guys would be stupid, I don't see why the redneck guys weren't a bit justified in their fear - not justified in their actions by taking the law into their own hands, but in being afraid of Malcolm and the others. (And not as justified in their fear as the audience would be, since they had seen more of these particular vampires and their ways.) But it doesn't seem like human police, for example, would be up to the task of protecting the citizens of Bon Temps from a nest like that. So they were wrong to do what they did, but they did face a real threat and ; so again, I just don't see how the gay parallel works.

Edited by Holly_L, Nov 26, 2008 @ 5:59 PM.

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#15

Rudio

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 6:42 PM

I thought Alan Ball had stated, in several interviews, that he was not intentionally making vampires a metaphor for gay men and women; that vampires metaphorically stood for those that are on the fringes of society, disenfranchised segments of society experiencing prejudice while trying to fit in with the power base. These groups could be gays, women, immigrants, people of color, etc. - but not a specific group. Perhaps AB has gotten more specific about it recently? The VRA and marriage rights (in Vermont) makes me wonder.

Edited by Rudio, Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:35 PM.

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#16

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:06 PM

I watched the entire first season this weekend. I never read the books. Here are my thoughts.

Sookie Stackhouse was lacking for me. I think Anna Paquin is just wrong for the part and while I think she is a good actress she didn't work here. I could NEVER see what Bill or anyone else saw in her. Her looks were not spectacular nor was her personality. She acted, often, very immature. Ok fine Bill has strange tastes, but Sam too? She is so glaringly unspecial that I feel it kind of ruins the show for me.

Bill is ok but I felt him missing toward the end. Also, toward the end he seemed a little stupid. Why did he go out in the sun if he knew it would kill / weaken him? Why is he so interested in Sookie? So much so that he does this grrr thing whenever anyone (Eric) suggests they will take Sookie from him. Seems like an overreaction for someone 150+ years old. Given that this show is basically about Sookie and Bill, seemed like that was central relationship was missing toward the end.

Tara, hated her at first, now love her. Sam, liked him at first, now kind of wish he would get a spin off. If he isn't pining after Sookie he seems a little wasted.

Jason Stackhouse, ok Bored to tears by the final act with Amy, but overall great character and the guy playing him is excellent in the role.

My biggest thing is disappointment at the end. Ok we just get done with the Fangbanger Strangler, which btw I thought was quite lame because how trite that Sookie, with telepathic ability, can't figure him out in weeks. However, we now have set up another murder mystery for season 2? Huh? I hope that is not the way they decide to go.
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#17

Holly_L

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:19 PM

I thought Alan Ball had stated, in several interviews, that he was not intentionally making vampires a metaphor for gay men and women. That vampires metaphorically stood for those that are on the fringes of society, those that are trying to fit in with the power base. These groups could be gays, women, immigrants, people of color, etc. - but not a specific group. Perhaps AB has gotten more specific about it recently? The VRA and marriage rights (in Vermont) makes me wonder.


I'm not sure what AB has said, but I did think the marriage rights in Vermont seemed more reminiscent in terms of current politics of gay rights more than anything else, of course. In terms of vampires being on the fringe, again, from many of the vampires we've seen, I just don't see how they're very much like any of those groups. Maybe if what we've seen so far is somewhat inaccurate, and only a small minority of vampires are actually dangerous to people, you could make a comparison to Muslims; e.g., there are some terrorists who profess themselves to be Muslim, but most Muslims are not dangerous, especially in the US; but there are certainly those who stereotype all Muslims as terrorists. But what we've seen on TB so far is again that most vampires do appear to be dangerous, so the comparison again breaks down for me.

ETA: thinking on this further, one interesting puzzle is, even if most vampires are dangerous and perhaps not deserving of rights, what do you do about the Bills or Eddies who aren't dangerous? Assuming they're not dangerous; e.g., in terms of Bill turning Jessica and possibly enjoying it, depending on interpretation.

Edited by Holly_L, Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:47 PM.

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#18

random

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:37 PM

Looking at the season as a whole, and at translating the book series to the screen, I am one happy viewer. The novels are a rocking good yarn, with a wonderful sense of comedy and colliding absurdities, and a rich and slightly insane imaginary world that upends expectations and assupmtions.

The series captured all of that in spades, and enriched an already good story with surprising (or, given the author, not surprising) psychological depth. It was a great ride - in places hysterically funny, in places poetic, and even moving and sad. As a whole, I think it was a great iteration of the gothic story as seen through a postmodern and, frankly, smartass lens. At the same time, the show also has a huge, unironic heart - it is not afraid to love its characters and make it possible for us to love them too. I really dug this quality in Buffy and I dig it here very, very much.

I feel like the universe gave me a wonderful present with this show. I laughed, I damn-near-cried, I gasped in shock, I spent valuable weekend and sleeping time thinking about existential shiz in the context of for-crying-out-loud vampires and the people who love, hate and/or drink them.

My biggest complaint, like for many people, was Sookie's bitch streak, and for me, it was a gut reaction as much as anything else, because someone close to me has borderline personality disorder, and Sookie's behaviour in the latter half of the season reminded me of unpleasant experiences with this person. Unpredictable, rapid moodswings? Check. Outbursts of rage? Check. Distorted perception of reality and extreme reactions to imaginary abandonment? Check. *shudder*

I wonder how much of my response has to do with what the storytellers put on the screen, and how much with what I brought to the table as a viewer, with my particular set of associations. But I don't think they meant for a lot of people to lose the ability to empathize with Sookie, or to see her a tiny bit as an insane harpy, and that did happen, since I am not the only one who reacted this way.

But I forgive, ultimately, because we've seen a different Sookie too, and hopefully her bitch streak did have to do with the particular place she was in the story and was specific to that time and place. And, well, I don't actually care how many minutes which character spends on screen, so long as those minutes have something interesting and meaningful to show us. Although Bill is my favourite, and I really wanted to like Sookie too, this is such a rich tapestry of fascinating characters, there's always someone to watch, doing something valuably bone-headed, most likely.

I agree with the folks who said that inventing the series' own stories on top of the books added to the show immensely. I loved where they took Moron Jason. I loved the complexity of Tara, and how she unfolded Sam like some kind of narrative origami. I can't wait to find out what happens next. And how much nudity it will entail.

Edited by random, Nov 26, 2008 @ 7:47 PM.

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#19

OrchidLady

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:00 PM

Maybe it's the Thanksgiving spirit, but I feel the need to post about what I love about TB as I've spent much time posting about what is annoying me.

Here goes, in no particular order:
- Lafayette, no one can wear gold pants like him, I loved his unapologetic style, his variety of unusual head wraps, his way of speaking the truth, and I hope he's around next season in some form
- Terry, a wonderful touching character often played for laughs but also bringing the reality that many vets from Iraq do have PTSD to the screen also.
- MaryAnn and that pig! They are new but I love them already. She's sexy and with a delicious undercurrent of evil, always well-dressed (when dressed), and you can really just believe looking at her that she's up to all sorts of oddness in the woods that she will drag Tara into.
- Sam, I wouldn't have said that earlier in the season but I love how doglike he is, how faithful to fault, and willing to overcome his own jealousy to do the right thing. His backstory is heartbreaking too and helps understand his clinginess to Sookie so much better.
- Tara, another who in the beginning I disliked but who now is one of the most complex characters I've seen on television. At this point I really want that "good shit" to happen for her, for her to get to keep her purple eyeshadow and be happy. Have a feeling the path won't be so smooth...
- Bill....oh he should have been first on the list. I love not only how he's written but SM's portrayal as well. He really sells it - the vulnerability, the love for Sookie, the desire to keep what humanity he has, and his animal nature. He will always have a fundamental conflict within himself that can never be resolved and he shows us that so well.
- Sookie....okay I'll give her a break, half the time I really like her...she gives us a real window on how important manners are in society, white lies, lies of omission and what it might be like if we could really hear everything. Hers has been a hard life and it is really touching to see her finally find herself in Bill's "silence".
- Merlotte's - I love this bar. They got so many aspects of this place right on the money (I'm from LA) it brings back many memories. Sweet tea, odd animal heads on the wall, wood panelling everywhere, not bad.
- Hoyt/Maxine Fortenberry - these people are real folks! This unfortunate combination of the saintly sweet mama's boy stuck with his dominating mother repeats itself endlessly in the South. I cannot wait to see Hoyt with Jessica.

I may have left some out but anyway.....that's the good stuff!
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#20

clack

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:10 PM

The series failed World-Building 101. It makes no sense that a mere 2 years after it is revealed that vampires exist -- predatory supernatural creatures who feed on humanity -- that the government would allow them, unsupervised, to integrate into society. If I didn't know better I'd suspect the writers of satirizing wooly-headed liberalism.

What would it mean to the ideological underpinnings of modernity if it were discovered that magic is indisputably real? What would it mean to science, to religion, to English Department post-structuralists?

What would be the effect on the social order if people realized that immortality is an option? Wouldn't being "turned" become something that the rich and powerful would covet? How would that play out practically and politically? A world where the "haves" become immortal predators, with the "have-nots" as mortal prey?

Instead of a Botox treatment, Cher would pay to be turned at a vamp spa. Rupert Murdoch could live forever, and Bill O'Reilly could "glamour" us through the TV screen.
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#21

DeNile Queen

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:19 PM

I don't know if Alan Ball said he wasn't making the vampire/gay metaphor (though the "out of the coffin" marketing line definitely harkens to "out of the closet" -- that line was used repeatedly at Comic-Con, in their marketing literature, and on HBO promos). But even if vampires are being compared to any disenfranchised group on the edges of society, they're a damned scary group, which is why the parallel fails for me regardless of who the minority is. Like Holly_L said, if the scary stuff we've seen is a tiny minority, I could see it, but the scary vamps seem to be the majority, with Bill and his attempt at mainstreaming being the minority. So, yeah, I wasn't all that indignant at the cruelty of vigilante gang, since I felt from their portrayal that these particular vamps wouldn't hesitate to murder humans should the mood strike.

As for Sookie, I don't hate her. But I'm stubborn -- any time I'm told by other characters how monumentally special someone is (and any time nearly every male in the vicinity has the hots for a specific woman) I always have an opposite reaction. I need to see it for myself, believe for myself in her specialness. The mind-reading, yeah, that's special (but not special enough to prevent a serial killer from claiming numerous victims). But she's no Buffy at this point. Or even particularly insightful or interesting. I don't dislike her, but she hasn't grown on me like Tara has.

Possibly, V also works to heal first, and only has drug-type reactions as a secondary reaction; so Sookie, with her serious injuries, needed almost all of the V to heal.

I kinda fanwanked it that way, too. It'd be nice to have an explanation in that regard, though.

Edited by DeNile Queen, Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:25 PM.

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#22

Holly_L

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:26 PM

What would be the effect on the social order if people realized that immortality is an option? Wouldn't being "turned" become something that the rich and powerful would covet? How would that play out practically and politically? A world where the "haves" become immortal predators, with the "have-nots" as mortal prey?

Instead of a Botox treatment, Cher would pay to be turned at a vamp spa. Rupert Murdoch could live forever, and Bill O'Reilly could "glamour" us through the TV screen.


Those are good questions, but I think they highlight the problem that we don't have a very clear view as to how, in their essence or soul or what have you, vampires differ from humans. How similar is a new vampire to the human he/she was before, let alone how does the 500-year vampire compare to the former human? Can the vampire cling to his/her former humanity with any success, as Bill is trying to do? Take the example of Jessica - she seems very different as vampire than human, but is that just a rebellious reaction; might she have reacted the same way as a human if she had such a good excuse to rebel? Or Eddie - from what we can tell, he may not have been all that different as a vampire than a human; even as a vampire staying in and somewhat afraid to go out and try new things. The vampires at the tribunal seemed to believe that their nature set them above humans? Is that an inevitable reaction for many vampires, to set themselves apart from humanity, or can mainstreaming succeed? Obviously, I wouldn't expect all these questions to be answered in the first season, but I hope that AB at least has a plan and some world-building in mind (I'm not familiar with the books, but the series seems to depart from the books to some extent at any rate), such that someone already has thought some of this out.
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#23

clack

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Posted Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:27 PM

Yeah, it bugs me that we still don't know what vampires are. Are they the same exact person with the same consciousness, the same subjective "I", that they were pre-turning -- only now with an overwhelming hunger for blood?

If that's the case, I'd expect the demand among the living to be turned would be overwhelming. Live forever, have superpowers, exist on Trublood -- what's the drawback? Sleep during the day, instead of at night? Big deal.

But so far we have only Eddie as a volunteer vamp. What's wrong with this picture?

Edited by clack, Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:30 PM.

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#24

tvjunkie23

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Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 2:12 AM

Would like to add my 2 cents:

It has been a while since a TV series got me to watch the episodes repeatedly and so obsessively. Some of its plots may have holes in them but it does not matter to me so much if I feel emotionally invested in the characters. Hey, I'm a huge fan of Lost. And I'm emotionally invested in Bill and Jason, all for different reasons. Their storylines were the most interesting, IMO.

I do hope the writers write Sookie more consistently next season as well as give more Bill/Sookie time. It's strange that I loved Sookie up till the episode where she lost her Gran/virginity. It all went downhill for her (and me) after that.

I like this show and am willing to look beyond the plotholes, as long as the characters behave consistently and interact wonderfully with each other. Considering this is the first season, it's inevitable that there will be hiccups/inconsistencies. I just hope the writers step it up next season.
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#25

OrchidLady

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Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 4:06 AM

Considering this is the first season, it's inevitable that there will be hiccups/inconsistencies. I just hope the writers step it up next season.


A lot of shows come to mind that hit their best stride in their second season. Buffy comes to mind first (of course)...remember the awesomeoness that was season2? Season 3 wasn't bad either. I hope we have some wonderfulness to look forward to.
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#26

pagzz

pagzz

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Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:16 AM

I enjoyed the season. As to plot holes, I didn't see as many as others have stressed:

world building.... Bill can't "own" his property unless the VRA is passed.
Vamps have a PR person
When Sookie tells Eric the cops are going to raid, he replies, "We do nothing illegal here" and then she tells him that the female vamp is feeding in the ladies room, so it seems laws have been passed and they aren't allowed to feed at the bar...
We are only seeing a small subset of the population, Shreveport and Bon Temps in the conservative south...and there are fangbangers and wannabes ( the ones in the first Fangtasia scene with painted on bite marks).
The scene at Fangtasia when the woman wants to take Eric's picture...

I think there has been world building but it is not the main focus of the show which is this cast in this rural location.

Sookie I think they were possibly showing her V experiences with her personality ( high, giddy, telling Hoyt and Rene some vamps keep humans around for sex and blood, where Bill sleeps etc) and showing Jason's (who imbibed V from a young vamp, less stable per Lafayette) more with the visuals. In the final episode Sookie turns down Bill's blood. She wants to feel human.
As to not using her abilities all the time...I think they have stressed that unless a person is thinking about something the moment she tunes in, she gets nothing on that subject. Using the abilities gives her a front row seat on the many things none of us want to know...someone thinks you are trash, your brother is trash, all the sex stuff...yeah I think I'd turn it off as much as possible. There are also the maturity issues and her first relationship...so I cut her a lot of slack.

The mystery female who is above Eric, that Malcolm alludes to could very well have intervened in the tribunal...the Magister got creative and maybe he got creative because someone high up in the hierarchy told him Bill wasn't to be locked away for 5 years.

As to what is special about Sookie...I think part of it is they can't glamour her. They aren't sure what she is...I don't think it is about her looks.

Edited by pagzz, Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:19 AM.

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#27

Jubi

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Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:27 PM

Regarding what Alan Ball has said about vampires as symbols, here’s an interview excerpt from this very site:

I don't think it's necessarily a mistake to view them as stand-ins for immigrants or gay and lesbian culture, I just think it's very easy -- in fact, it's a little too easy. And I don't think it's the only thing that they can be seen as metaphors for, especially in this world. And that's one of the things I really liked about it was that it's a very fluid metaphor because on the one hand it's a metaphor for any disenfranchised group wanting to assimilate and wanting equal rights and power and on the other hand, it's a terrific metaphor for a shadowy secret organization that is all about amassing power and if you get in their way, they will get rid of you, which I think that's certainly at work in our culture, as well.

The entire interview is here.

What would it mean to the ideological underpinnings of modernity if it were discovered that magic is indisputably real? What would it mean to science, to religion, to English Department post-structuralists?

What would be the effect on the social order if people realized that immortality is an option? Wouldn't being "turned" become something that the rich and powerful would covet? How would that play out practically and politically? A world where the "haves" become immortal predators, with the "have-nots" as mortal prey?

Maybe I’m giving Ball too much credit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these issues begin to be addressed more heavily in Season 2. Season 1 was only 12 episodes long, and there were a lot of characters to introduce and storylines to cover. Season 2 might have a little more breathing room for delving into these kinds of issues because the character introductions are mostly over. Still, I think it’s important to keep in mind that the show takes place in and around one very small geographical area, so anything they cover ideologically has to make sense for that particular town and region. I can’t imagine they’re going to be able to address the effects of vampirism on science or educational communities, in Bon Temps, in anything other than a superficial, random-TV-show-on-in-the-background capacity.

Right now, I’m okay with still being unsure about the intricacies of vampirism physically, magically, spiritually, socially, etc.

And as for Sookie, I agree with those who are scratching their heads as to what makes her so special, within the confines of this show, as to have both Bill and Sam so ready and willing fight for, and over, her. I admit I found her quirkily charming for the first half of the season, though like many, she began to grate in the last third of the season. But still, she’s not that special, and having Bill and Eric bare fangs over her is actually kind of confusing. The way it plays for me on the show is that Eric doesn’t really care about her one way or the other except for her psychic abilities, and he just pushes the issue because a) he does want to have access to her abilities, and b) he enjoys fucking with Bill. According to comments I’ve picked up here, however, it plays a bit differently in the books, so I’m not sure if Alan Ball is departing from the books (which I’m actually hoping for), or if the chemistry just isn’t there, either because it's being held back for future developments or because the actors just don’t spark (and Skarsgard could spark off a fencepost, IMO, Paquin I’m not so sure). (Maybe this belongs in the relationship thread or the Sookie thread, but I mean it as “What did the writers intend in terms of Season 1?” so I’ll leave it here for now...)

Edited by Jubi, Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:33 PM.

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#28

TWoP Bayliss

TWoP Bayliss

Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:41 PM

I just look at it as: Either Sookie is wonderful, the main character -- and her relationship with Bill is central to the show -- or none of those things are intended to be true, or have ever been true for the show.

If A is the case, then the season was a disaster, and the show's not worth watching.

If, for whatever reason, B is the case and those things are solely the received wisdom of fandom culture, and thus have nothing to do with the aims of the show or the story that's being told, then the season has fulfilled its aims. Given that we've now seen the entire season, the entire story as it played out for weeks, perhaps option B is worth exploring.

To be disappointed in the show on its merits is one thing, but to be angry because it -- or specific characters and situations -- didn't match up to expectations created from thin air before actually watching the show play out seems like less of a worthwhile pursuit to me.
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#29

rhodie03

rhodie03

    Just Tuned In

Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 9:59 PM

My first reaction to the finale scene with Sookie lying on the couch, after Rene's attack, with Sam, Lafayette and Tara gathered at her side was that it was just like the final scene from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy wakes up with Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion at her bedside. In TB, the positioning of the three around Sookie corresponds to Lafayette in Tin Man's place, Tara in Scarecrow's place and Sam in Lion's place.

It's fun thinking about possible parallels between the TB and Oz characters because the Oz characters are rich in symbolism, correspond to four survival archetypes and follow a distinct journey. Each archetype has two sides - a light (good) side and a shadow (bad) side - and journeys from the shadow to the light over the course of the story. The three archetypes represented by Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion also play central roles in the development/growth of Dorothy herself (since they are each symbolic of shadow elements within Dorothy's psyche).

So was it a coincidental or deliberate positioning in the TB scene? Let’s see how the TB characters match up with the Oz characters:

The Prostitute: Tin Man/Lafayette
The journey of Tin Man represents the journey of the Prostitute. The Prostitute is the archetype of feeling and governs integrity. The shadow form of the Prostitute operates out of fear, making one feel like one has to 'give in' or 'sell out' one’s spirit, virtue or integrity to survive. The journey of the Prostitute teaches integrity and how to manage the boundaries that true love represents, that is, to learn when its okay to compromise on our values and standards and when it isn't. In his search for a heart, Tin Man teaches Dorothy how to love and be a true friend to oneself and others and that personal integrity is more important than security or gain.

Layfayette is literally a prostitute in TB. Did he complete the journey of the Prostitute when he met with the Senator? If not, then I sincerely hope Lafayette isn't gone since Sookie really needs to learn a lesson in personal integrity!

The Saboteur: Scarecrow/Tara
Scarecrow's journey represents the journey of the Saboteur. The Saboteur is the archetype of thought and value and governs commitment. The shadow Saboteur is made up of the fears and issues related to low self-esteem that cause people to make choices in life that block self-empowerment and success. It’s the voice in our head which sabotages us with thoughts like 'I'm not good enough' or 'it'll never work' - it creates a false illusion of the way things are, stops us from implementing positive changes in our lives and can manifest itself in the form of self-destructive behaviour. The journey of the Saboteur teaches 'right thought' or intelligence and how to totally commit to relationships and tasks. In his search for a brain, the Scarecrow teaches Dorothy how to see and evaluate oneself and others clearly and how to commit to relationships.

Tara is classic shadow Saboteur. Her journey is not going to be an easy one to watch.

The Victim: Lion/Sam
Lion's journey represents the journey of the Victim. The Victim is the archetype of action - of appropriate 'ownership' of what is mine and what is yours - and governs responsibility. The shadow Victim acts in a disempowered and pitiful state, commonly using ‘poor me’ dramas to elicit sympathy. Shadow victims allow others to take advantage of them, consider themselves weak or insignificant and often place themselves at the mercy of others. The journey of the Victim teaches how much strength we really have inside ourselves, to recognize and embody our own personal power and to take personal responsibility. In his search for courage, the Lion teaches Dorothy about inner strength and taking responsibility for what happens.

Sam still displays many of the negative traits of the Victim, in particular, he continues to act inappropriately.

The Maiden/Child: Dorothy/Sookie
Dorothy’s journey represents the journey of the Maiden or Child. The Maiden archetype represents purity, innocence of childhood, naivety and governs trust. The shadow Maiden is very self-centered, her energy is expended on achieving her own personal needs and goals, she abdicates responsibility and plays the role of a temperamental child. The shadow Maiden loses the natural aspects of the child and is pessimistic and lacking in trust. The Maiden archetype is the archetype that brings the other three survival archetypes together. The journey of the Maiden teaches us to take complete dominion over our lives, that is, to take responsibility for everything we do (Victim), everything we feel (Prostitute) and everything we think (Saboteur). Dorothy (a parentless child like Sookie) is undeveloped and unbalanced at the start of her journey - she needs to get in touch with her powers of heart, intellect, and courage in order to develop a more balanced sense of self. Herein lies the roles of Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion in Dorothy's journey - each symbolizes an archetype which Dorothy needs to integrate into herself to "grow up" and become balanced.

I now see Sookie as the classic Maiden/Child archetype. I couldn't accept this until the end of episode 11 when her overwhelmingly bad behaviour finally broke through the cognitive dissonance I'd been experiencing about her since episode 3. My cognitive dissonance was largely due to my wild crush on Bill and the B/S relationship. I wanted the B/S relationship to be between two adults for all kinds of reasons. So, I found all kinds of reasons to ignore, excuse, and rationalize her behaviour - cognitive dissonance.

Many posters have posited bad writing for Sookie in the later episodes but I believe the writing for Sookie's character has been consistent (and very deliberate) throughout season 1, especially when one sees Sookie as the Child archetype. We meet Sookie's light side in the first two episodes but start to see glimpses of her shadow self as early as episode 3. The battle between her light and shadow sides becomes more and more pronounced during the middle episodes and, by episode 10, she fully represents the shadow Child archetype.

One final point...AB has said that TB is about the terrors of intimacy. Interestingly, four key ingredients to a successful intimate relationship are trust, integrity, commitment and responsibility and these correspond to the four survival archetypes. Let’s hope that Lafayette, Tara, and Sam have successful journeys so that they can help Sookie “grow up” and have a successful intimate relationship with Bill!!!

Edited by rhodie03, Nov 27, 2008 @ 10:37 PM.

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#30

CheshrKat

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Posted Nov 27, 2008 @ 10:30 PM

I just look at it as: Either Sookie is wonderful, the main character -- and her relationship with Bill is central to the show -- or none of those things are intended to be true, or have ever been true for the show.


Bayliss, isn't there a third option, where Sookie IS the main character - but not necessarily wonderful? I'm not going to compare Sookie to Tony Soprano or Don Draper, but to my mind, the main character on a show doesn't always have to be a positive role model, or even likable. Sure, if you're writing a simple action adventure, and you're wanting a typical straight-forward hero, but other than that, it's not a requirement. And I do think Sookie is the main character, because all of the other lead characters intersect through her in some way. She's Jason's sister, and Tara's best friend, and Sam's employee, and Bill's love interest.

From that point of view, I don't personally require the writers to always make Sookie likable, but I do want to be able to understand why she's acting a certain way even if I don't care for it. And I think the writers mostly succeeded in that, with the exception of her behavior in a couple of the later episodes, so I'm not as unhappy with the characterization as some here. For that matter, I think even a character that does things that are wrong or mean or bitchy CAN be relatable - but I will make a generalization here, and say that I think it's sometimes harder for audiences to accept or want to relate to a female lead character with huge flaws as opposed to a male character with similar or even more troubling flaws.

I really think a lot of Sookie's behavior can be explained if you accept that she was reacting to her own intake of vampire blood combined with grief/loss over Gran, just as Jason's behavior can be explained on his addiction and his own mourning. However, the writing was far more blatant about the connection with Jason's behavior and V. Plus, they didn't help themselves by becoming inconsistent even with how Jason would react at any given time towards the end of the season as far as V is concerned, and so that muddies the issue.
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