Some Series That We Used to Know: The Racialicious Roundtable for True Blood 5.8

The Roundtable is really not feeling this one. Sookie continues her existential crisis, we’re worried about Luna, Tara’s situation gets even more racially icky, and we don’t even know who Bill is anymore. Tami, Alea, and Kendra chose to sit this episode out, leading Joe and I to invite a new tabler – longtime reader (and friend of Joe’s) Carly – into the mix just to keep up the flow of conversation.

Oh Sookie

Carly: First off I want to thank everyone for letting me drop in and share my thoughts. I love reading the panel’s postings so I’m excited to have this chance to be part of it.
Joe: We welcome you with open virtual arms, my dear! Now on to the dissection…
Latoya: Something that’s been bothering me since last week – why doesn’t Sookie ask more questions when people tell her things? He didn’t say “Hey, your life is gonna be nice, normal and human.” Dude said “You’ll be fae no more.” And as we all know, you gotta read between the lines with these kinds of things.
Joe: I agree. “You’ll be fae no more” could in fact mean, you’ll disappear into nothingness, or you’ll turn into a tree, or something weird and mythical like that.

Luna? Is That You?

Latoya: I really hope they give Luna something to say besides repurposing Magneto speeches. And didn’t you have to kill someone to shift into them? Maybe I am misremembering.
Carly: I can’t remember the rule for shifting into other people either… Did Tommy also shift against his will? The way they’re playing this out with Luna makes it seem like a sickness. I wish she had shifted into Marcus. Now that would’ve been pretty shocking.
Joe: I think the rule was that you could turn into anyone you’ve met, but if you kept doing it, you would die a horrible and painful death. I wonder what the point was of Luna turning into Sam. Was it that she was mad as hell and wasn’t gonna take it anymore? I don’t remember why exactly someone would make a change like that against her will, unless maybe she was mad and thinking about Sam too much at the same time.
Latoya: Boyfriend’s guess was that she’s up the stick. The vomiting then makes sense, but the weird rippling pains don’t. And if she shifted into Sam because she’s pregnant, then wouldn’t that have also happened with Marcus? (And I just realized I am trying to grok the logistics of supernatural pregnancy. I think I’m gonna go read a book…)

[Note: NSFW GIFS of Alcide shortly after this point.]

Jason’s Logic

Latoya: Can we just pause for a second and realize Jason is the most sensible character this season. Jason, who just told Sookie it was fine she shot him in the head with her faerie light. Jason!
Joe: I like the notion that Jason is just a simple man with simple rules about life and that’s how everyone should be thinking. But no one realises that’s how one should think in this particular world and that’s why this show is so gosh darn insane.

Vamps on Parade

Latoya: Lilith wants me to eat a baby? Really now?
Joe: That says something about last weeks crazy episode that I didn’t realise Melty McFace was in the group of zoned-out revelers.
Carly: Speaking of vampires being high as kites… Have they been unable to get high in the past and recognize a case of the (baby) munchies? I was just reading a book where the vampire character would get high from humans who had consumed opiates.
Joe: I was just thinking the other day actually, the worst thing about being a vampire for me is never being able to have a Tequila Sunrise… or a cinnabon. If I became a vampire and like… made a human eat like four cinnabons, would that transfer to blood? This is how I’d spend my centuries as a vamp, all the taste experiments I would conduct. I could open a vamp restaurant.
Latoya: You could take over Merlotte’s. I bet no one would notice.
Latoya: Steve and Russell’s creepy exotifying side convo was not the business.
Joe: That lap ride from earlier… I was like “Mmhmm.” I know how it is when you’re the only two gays in a social group and then you get drunk. You’re like… “I guess, why not.” Russell even turned Steve down last week.
Latoya: Poor Steve. Russell has appeal, but he is a total downgrade from Jason Stackhouse. If I was Steve, I’d be working on my vamp combat skills to take Jessica out. And considering how Tara almost cleaned her clock, it could happen. Also, I am sad that Steve’s realization didn’t happen a few seasons ago where they might have actually done something with that plotline.

No Need for Words

Naughty Time!

Carly: I love that True Blood is working hard to catch up to Game of Thrones to meet HBO’s nudity quota. Being a female too, it’s really nice to watch shows that have more than the women stripping down for the men.
Latoya: Hey Alcide, we see you dining on Southern Cuisine! Top that, Eric!
Carly: It was noted in my household that there were more sex positions than lines in that scene. No objections from me!
Joe: The only word I had in my notes in that scene was “thrusting.”

Uh, Bill?

Latoya: So, is there a reason why Bill’s maker sense isn’t going off while Jessica is chained up by the most pathetic hate group on the planet?
Joe: He’s much too busy eating brides in New Orleans to notice. He’s winning the “worst maker ever” title from Pam.
Carly: It so refreshing to see Bill in a different role. I’ll put it out there, I’ve read the books and have never, ever, ever enjoyed Bill. Outside from book-Bill I think tv-Bill’s character a bit grasping and cheesy. Looking at Bill’s character on the show, the beaten down, chivalrous line he is constantly given is so worn out at this point. I would love to see him be the power hungry, zealot they are hinting he may have within him. That being said, I’m calling it now that this is all an act and the Bill I’m tired of will turn up next week – because of Sookie’s “magical snatch.” Again. *sigh*
Joe: Yeah I like this evil Bill. I also like slightly more moral Eric. It’s interesting to see him give “WTF?!” faces to all the other vampires.

Does This Count as Long Distance?

Latoya: Oh Jesus and Laffy. I wish y’all were on another show, where your love could have survived.
Carly: Cosign on that Latoya. Every time they have Jesus make a guest appearance I curse Alan Ball for killing him off.


Latoya: “Now you are a member of two minorities!” This is when I miss hardware store working Tara. Speech, speech, speech!

Wait, don’t get uppity with me Tara? WTF is this racist ass bullshit this season? How did we travel this far? (Also, True Blood fans on twitter, Tara isn’t being a bitch when she’s calling out a passive aggressive racist. Nor is uppity a cute little turn of phrase.)
Joe: From my notes: “Coded word alert!” Tracy the one who owns that clothing store Tara owns in the book I think. Perhaps they’ll glamour it into Tara’s possession. That would be a fun way for Tara to coincide with the book.
Latoya: See, I can’t even feel right about this racist revenge subplot with the whole chocolate mouth, Pam as savior thing. I see what they wanted but I just can’t.
Carly: Well, I really don’t understand what they are trying to do with this relationship between Pam and Tara. I thought maybe they were trying to give Pam her hard-ass act full on, allowing her to fall back on her insults as her protection and then come around as a more loving mother, insert something about learning from Eric blah blah blah… but even if that’s the case, and even if she turns around and gives Tara the love she needs… what the hell is the message? That it’s okay to be knowingly racist as long as you atone for it later? Or really care for the person underneath? This was and is continuing to get more and more ridiculous. I love the strong Tara from last season and now, but I don’t like it being tied to to rage or tied to this enslavement with Pam.
Joe: I agree. I usually love “Big mistake. Huge!” moments in TV and movies, but this made me feel funny, and not in a good way.

Gender Open Mic!

Carly: One thing that’s driving me a little nuts about this season (maybe even this show?), even though I’m loving it much more than last season overall, is the lack of positive female roles. The women are either in need of rescuing, caretakers, are callous or zealots, or “uppity” and rageaholics lashing out. Oh and not to mention the painful line down which the white women and the women of color are split between those stereotypes? Granted Sookie is stronger this season, but her whole life revolves around being rescued and here we are again with Warlow hunting her. Where are the sane, strong female leads? Maybe Marcus’ mom? But even then she’s helpless to the situation with J.D. Even Russell condescends to Salome. It’s all more than a little disappointing.
Latoya: I get a bit twitchy when people talk about positive female roles or strong female characters (check this Overthinking It article for the full breakdown) but I am less concerned about this change. Almost all the characters have spun into one dimensional plot movers – Sookie is giving slightly more attitude but her default mode is still nosy damsel aka Daphne. We spent the first few seasons hoping Tara and Laffy would get some backstory, but we see where that got us. This appears to be the season of Sam, and possibly Eric. I have no expectations for better female characters because the character landscape is fucking flat.
Joe: I think they’re telling us Pam should be that strong female, even though she’s like the oddest character right now in terms of character evenness.
Latoya: Again, see article. They are making her “strong” by way of upping the outfit game and giving her more one liners. Pam spent all last season pining for her lost bond with Eric and now she’s just…over it? She didn’t feel any need to do something afterward? Yes, I know Eric was like “everything is gonna be fine if we just separate” but Pam from a few seasons ago wouldn’t have gone for that.
Carly: I like that article. I agree with a lot of its points… especially the note about the radically different standards for attractiveness when casting male and female roles. But I’ll stick to my guns about the strong female character. That article just makes me want to add strong, capable and not a caricature of competence and accomplishment. With perfect hair.
Latoya: Is that what they were thinking with those crimps?
Carly: And to the Pam thing, I dislike also that to be the lone capable female she has to be so cruel. I don’t even think ‘bitchy’ is the right word. At the end of the day I agree, there’s too much writing that narrows down the characters on the show to one word descriptions.

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  • Bob Gordon

    True Blood and race is a bit like Mad Men and gender: The writers attempt to have their thrill and preach it, too. Someone’s having a tiresome wank making Tara the submissive who hates being submissive (which is especially vile given Tara’s four-year arc of abuse) and they’re even pushing literal-minded slave metaphors into her dynamic with Pam, which is not only amazingly tasteless but makes you wonder why you’re still watching (hope, perhaps). The thing that’s especially awful is how Tara hates what’s being done to her but never gets to do anything about it — it’s as if they’re giving her last-minute Stockholm Syndrome. I have the sense they *might* be hammering the dynamic because Tara is going to turn Harold-Pinter-top on Pam, but even if she does (and she hasn’t ever, really), the writers have taken Pam — one of the series’ most beloved characters and a woman who could wear no wrong — and turned her from a stylish all-business cynic with great lines to a control freak with awful tame-the-exotic-maid fantasies. “You’re free to lash out when I say so.” It isn’t even about decorum — it’s about “decorum” as a pretext for catching Tara off-guard and administering pain and relief in ways that seem to involve Pam’s never siding with her in public. What a waste of what I think could have been a satisfying dynamic: two characters whose nonsense-weary worldview and visible/audible disapproval hadn’t protected them from taking crap until they partnered up.

  • MJ

    Does anyone have an opinion on Tara and Pam’s outfits? Does anyone else feel like their sex-worker cum club culture Oriental costumes speak to the ways in which ethnicity is sexualized?

  • Keith

    Garbage, This show like x-men or any other series featuring fiction white oppressed minorities is an example of appropriation and the silencing of actual oppressed groups voices.

  • Keith

    Garbage, This show like x-men or any other series featuring fiction white oppressed minorities is an example of appropriation and the silencing of actual oppressed groups voices.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve said EXACTLY that before! Not to mention Tara & Alcide had more chemistry in their 2 minutes together during season 3 than he and Sookie did.

  • LM

    I strongly dislike the Authority storyline. First off, consider Russell Edgington; the oldest, strongest vampire in the world, who just so happens to be insane. Why are Salome and Norah so certain that he’ll play along? Salome better have a secret weapon to keep him in line or something because when push comes to shove he won’t hesitate to obliterate every single vampire in that complex. Also, cool torture devices notwithstanding, I don’t find the Authority to be all that intimidating. They seem more like bickering bureaucrats who will turn allegiance on a dime as opposed to a powerful, fearful group whose reach spans the globe. This may change in future episodes (especially episode 9, where they start taking over), but I’ll still have my reservations. How do they expect all vampires around the world to fall in line when they aren’t even united amongst themselves?

    I’m calling it: Bill is just going along with this for now. Before he spoke up, the Authority members were going to kill the mainstreamers. Bill’s plan to destroy True Blood factories will keep the mainstreamers alive. I don’t think he’s really changed all that much.

    It’s hard to enjoy Tara’s vampire awesomeness when someone (usually Pam) says something racist to her almost every. Single. Episode. Why can’t we see Tara and Pam scouting humans to feed off together, or Pam teaching Tara how to glamour or something? Pam can be just as caustic as always without directing all of her comments to her own progeny. We get it, she’s mean but she cares. Try showing the caring side more often, or at least have her chew out other people more often.

    Finally, does anyone else think Alcide is pretty much useless? It seems all he’s done so far is get naked, forfeit, and lose.