I’ve become less and less of a TV junkie. My comedic TV must-sees, The Office and 30 Rock, and Curb Your Enthusiasm are currently off the air, and my dramatic HBO addictions, The Sopranos and The Wire have gone for good. I wasn’t looking for a new show, but one found me.
I gotta tell you, HBO’s True Blood is my new gotta watch Sunday show. And it’s all about vampires living on the bayou.
Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse as sweet and complicated (despite her short shorts and tight white tee), her new vampire boyfriend is seductive, with old fashioned manners (must be that Civil War era upbringing), and — despite my initial pause — I really liked her best friend Tara, played by the beautiful Rutina Wesley. Apparently, the Tara portrayed in Charlaine Harris’ series of books, is a meeker and less dominant character.
When I saw Tara appear on screen, I was like great — sassy black friend alert. I can’t deny that Tara is indeed a variation of the oft depicted, poison tongued, eye rolling, gum snapping, whatchu-say caricature we’ve seen on television ever since the days of The Jeffersons, but by the end of the episode, I liked her. I did. So sue me.
From what I’m seeing in the comments on Entertainment Weekly, quite a few folks are complaining about the stereotypical sassy African American characters, like the aforementioned Tara and her cousin, the out and proud, tell it like it is diva of the kitchen, Lafayette — ably played by Nelsan Ellis.
Lafayette is gently critiqued in this review at After Elton : “The character of Lafayette is supposed to be controversial, but I liked him. Yes, he does sort of crossdress, and he wears make-up and is just a step away from doing finger snaps at people, but he’s also a nice guy with a big heart for his friends, and can probably wipe the floor with any homophobe who comes in the bar.”
The New York Times calls the show’s two opinionated, broadly drawn black characters “the equivalent, in True Blood, of clowns in Shakespeare and ghosts in Toni Morrison.” I hope there’s much more character development to come. I’d hate to see Tara and Lafayette turn out to be little more than that. Either way, I’ll be watching next week to see how the plot thickens. This week ended with an afrobella vampire threatening to bite Sookie. Dun dun dunnnnn….
I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been watching — do you like what you’re seeing so far, or do the stereotypes make you cringe?