There’s a problem in Hollywood with the portrayal of female characters. They’re either so “strong” (objective word) that they come off as emasculating “bitches,” or they’re weak, perpetual damsels-in-distress, who want to be strong and want to get ahead, but can’t seem to figure out the proper balance, which leads to them falling back on finding love as the only real form of validation. The perfect is model of this is The Devil Wears Prada. In the first category, we have Miranda Priestly; it was impossible for her to sustain her impeccable career and maintain a marriage/family life. She is basically the Wicked Witch of the West for the iPhone generation. In the other category, there’s Andrea, who chose to walk away from a career opportunity many men and women (especially those in New York) would kill for because she wanted a love life.
That’s why you rarely see a woman on TV or on film in a position of power being portrayed as a nice person who is also in a happy, healthy relationship. Because women can’t possibly have it all without sacrificing everything.
And then there are the Sookie Stackhouse’s of the world who send women back 50 years.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: this is not about Anna Paquin, the extremely talented actress and poster child for real bisexual women everywhere. We love Anna, and as wide-eyed, small
hick town waitress-turned Fang Banger-turned Faerie Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood, Paquin knocked her scenes out of the park for seven seasons on the hit HBO show. My beef is with the character Sookie Stackhouse and the writer’s of True Blood for making her the most man-dependent, selfish, self-absorbed character on a TV show. Ever.
On August 24th, 2014, True Blood said goodbye to Bon Temps in the series finale on HBO, and much to everyone’s chagrin, the show ended with a slow-paced episode (not to mention the rest of the final season, which more or less moved at a snail’s pace, at least for the last few episodes) that didn’t really satisfy viewers who were fans of characters other than Sookie and Jason Stackhouse.
- Bill dies the true death. He begged for Sookie to set both of them free before he died on his own of Hep V. He wanted her to show him the “True Kindness” and use her fairy ball-of-
light-death, which would have rid her of her fae-mind reading abilities and sweet blood-driven irresistibility to vampires, and Bill of, well, his life. She ultimately can’t give up that part of herself (score 1 for Sookie — and womankind everywhere), so she stakes him inside of his empty coffin in the cemetery beside his dead wife and children.
- Lafayette says maybe one sentence. And exchanges a few sassy glances with Jessica. (How the writers thought that they could get away with having one of the most interesting characters on the show say pretty much nothing is beyond me…)
- Jessica and Hoyt get married. Because apparently she forgot about all the shit she did that drove Hoyt out-of-town in the first place. I couldn’t help but think, “How could Jessica be with Hoyt knowing that she compelled him to forget all of the awful crap you and Jason did to him two seasons ago?” But, I guess that’s the beauty of True Blood, where form often defies logic.
- After 7 seasons of trying to think with something other than his penis, Jason Stackhouse apparently learns how to be a “gentleman” and not sleep with a woman. Oh, and the woman is Hoyt’s freshly-exed girlfriend, Bridgette. And in the flash forward, they’re married with three children. (Wouldn’t it have been something if Jason realized he was gay and slept with so many women to mask his homosexuality. I shipped Eric-Jason.)
- In the only truly awe-some moment(s), Eric and Pam kill the Yakuza and become billionaires by producing New Blood. Also, Sarah Newlin begs Pam to turn her and bargains with her by offering up her sexuality. Yeah, Fellowship of the Sun/Light of Day co-founder, crazy-religious vamp-hating Sarah Newlin offers to become a lesbian vampire for Pam. As always, Pam has the best line: “I wouldn’t let you go down on me for a billion dollars.” #PamfortheWin!
- Sam — remember him, True Blood writers? The shapeshifter who only ever really wanted a place to fit in who decides to move away to be with his baby mama? Yeah, viewers didn’t really either last night with that crappy, look-and-you’ll-miss-it send-off — resigns as mayor and moves away to be with Michelle Tanner’s best friend Denise.
- Meanwhile, Sookie cried a lot about Bill. She staked him. She chose to keep her faerie light. And in the flash-forward, ended up maybe marrying some random dude and getting pregnant and living the life that BILL always saw for her.
That’s the real problem with Sookie Stackhouse: throughout the seven seasons, she took giant leaps forward (like, for instance, last night’s choice to keep a part of herself instead of listening to her man and wasting her God-given gift in order to essentially please him), yet routinely made horrible decisions that revolved around the men in her life; the writers completely wasted her potential as a strong female character. Throughout the show’s run, she’d often ditch her job as a waitress to follow her various vampire lovers around on their missions. She routinely lost track of her friends, and what was going on in their lives, due to her insatiable need to be satisfied and “complete” by being with a man. One of the 7th season’s biggest errors was killing off her best friend Tara, a move that, fans were told, was for a “reason,” but at the close of last night’s episode, it was easy to see that the writers simply had no storyline for Tara.
And in true Sookie fashion, she barely mourned her best friend this season. How could she, really, when her live-in boyfriend Alcide and vampire soul mate Bill both died? How could she possibly think of anything else other than the hold these men have on her?
Also, can we talk about Alcide? Why would the writers get Sookie and Alcide together at the tail-end of season 6 only for him to die 3 episodes in? The writer’s said that they wanted to focus on Bill and Sookie this season, which I get, but why turn around and have Sookie, a character whose happiness we’re supposed to have rooted for from the first episode (or, at the very least, the first season episode where Gran died), marry (or just get pregnant, we’re not really sure what happened with Sookie’s future) some random guy? Why not save Alcide as end-game, especially because she did love him and he could have given her children and a happy, fulfilled life? That would have at least been somewhat fulfilling.
True Blood is known for its campy, over-the-top moments (Maryann the Maenad, anyone?), but its downfall is that it often relied on them to fuel story lines rather than flesh out the characters. One of the only truly dynamic and multi-dimensional female characters on the show, Tara, was killed off without any real resolution (I’m not even going to bother with the V-fueled visions Lafayette and her batshit crazy mom had in order to give Tara some sort of closure because it was messy and prolonged and pretty much just deadweight.) They would rather have Sookie’s crocodile tears over the death of her best friend than her actually sit down and really let it sink in that her friend had died. In fact, she barely reacted when Tara died (and can we just talk about how absurdly stupid it was for Tara to die? Her presence was sorely missed throughout this entire last season. Not to mention the missed opportunity to finally pair her with Jason, her longtime crush.) Then again, she had big, strong, manly Alcide by her side, so nothing was really all-that-bad. And then he died, and Sookie mourned him (again, not Tara, really), and ran straight into Bill’s arms.
Sookie was never complete without a man. She never expressed interest in any hobbies. She never expressed interest in becoming something other than a waitress. She never expressed any sort of independent thought, save for this wasted nugget of wisdom:
She was, from beginning to end, a damsel in distress, an object of the male characters affections and obsessions, and I think that was the biggest issue with True Blood as a whole, and definitely with the series finale. The writers made her strong enough to make the decision to stay fae, but didn’t really give her any future outside of being a pregnant housewife. And that’s the problem with Sookie Stackhouse; she’s nothing more than a 1950s housewife, a stigma that someone like Miranda Priestly probably fought hard to overcome. Why can’t females character’s in Hollywood have it all without sacrificing their integrity? Why couldn’t Sookie have found love while also pursuing her education or starting her own (vampire related-) business? Couldn’t she have ended up being a bit more independent, like Tara?
The True Blood series finale was more in keeping with the slow-paced season 1, where viewers and, presumably, the showrunners were still trying to figure out exactly what the show was. And after 7 years of watching Sookie chase after men, cry over men, and mold her entire life and existence around the men in her life, it was a letdown to know that, in the end, Sookie never became something more than who she was at the beginning. The only really strong female character who never relied on a man for happiness, Tara, was killed off without any real reason or explanation, much to the detriment of the shows final season.
Unlike Sookie, Tara left Bon Temps to find herself, and literally learned how to kick asses. She knew who she was and she wasn’t afraid to be exactly that. And where did it get her? The true death.
True Blood was a culture zeitgeist; it was zany, cooky, campy, and utterly ridiculous at times, but at it’s best, it was compelling and truly entertaining television. It will be remembered as one of the few entities that propelled the vampire craze to new, more adult heights. It was a part of pop culture for so long that it won’t soon be forgotten, but the final season, especially the final episode, was a let down.
At the very least, we’ll always have seasons 1-6.