Who’s Watching True Blood?

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?

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Comments

  1. I like the show so far but yes, I did kind of twinge after the first episode. Neck rolling, sassy black friend-check. Gay over the top sassy black man-check.

    Despite that, the show is intriguing. After last week’s show Bella….I think her boss is the dog.

    Hmm…love interest between Vampire and Were wolf?

    What do you think?

  2. well evidently my boo is watching. b/c he came to bed hyped up about how this werewolf he saw on tv was giving this girl the “business after he tied her up” so at least now I know where he got the idea from…lmao

  3. i LOVE this show. though Tara is NOT my favorite character at ALL…i like her sass, and she seems clever, but what kills me about her is how dumb she is around Sookie’s brother. you’d think that someone with such attitude wouldnt be such a basketcase around a guy like that.

    I like Lafayette though.

    I’m definitely addicted to this show and the cliffhanger from last Sunday’s episode has me anxious to see what happens next! :)

  4. I’ve been following the show and so far I’m a fan. I like the bold statements made by each “stereotypical” character thus far, especially the sassy black friend.

    http://www.Gangstarrgirl.com

  5. I checked the show out on Sunday as well…my BF was the one to initially start watching it, and I was intrigued by the fact that he actually sat down for the whole hour and watched every minute…even the commercials…lol. I do like the characters of Tara and Lafayette, but did have the same cringes when they sometimes crossed into “stereotypical Black character” land. However, I’m giving the show the chance to show me that we’ll be able to see a deeper side of both of these characters. I think this will be another addition to my fall TV repetoire :)

  6. I tried reading the first book years ago and didn’t like it. I enjoy the series so far. Tara gets on my nerves a bit. And her crush on Sookie’s brother, I’m like he isn’t even cute!! Anyway, I think as it goes on Tara’s character will evolve. I love Lafayette, though. I feel people should give the show a couple of more episodes before they start serious trashing it.
    Didn’t even think of the dog being her boss? Good looking out 1969.

  7. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    I’m gonna have to check this out.It sounds like a good soap opera.

  8. Shell…when he was talking to her in the office, he hadhat picture of a dog/wolf looking over a sleeping girl on his wall. The dog is always around her when she is in trouble.

    And she made a point to mention that “Sam was still in his office”.

    I’m just saying…..Werewolf?

  9. I miss the “Sopranos” as well. I will definitely have to tune in to the show that you mentioned. Sounds like a possible new favorite!

  10. Dang…sucks not to have cable, fortunately I can still get the goods online. The show is based on the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Great series, I love that the Sookie in the book has “evolved” as a character so it will be interesting to see it on the screen. Also interesting that they “colorized” the actors. The characters in the books are all pale (considering that the locale is the south, not surprising) so it is a plus for HBO to add some color to the mix.

    I also have hopes that the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton will come to the screen. Her sex scenes are….whew…mmmm..well…definately NOT PG.

  11. Sam is not a werewolf, he’s a shape-shifter. Werewolves don’t look at cute as that collie, last time I checked. LOL!

    I liked Lafayette a lot! I think he brings the humor to the series. Lafayette was kind of a background character in the books, so I’m glad to see that Alan Ball is adding more layers and a closer look at some of these background characters. And, he totally gets Sookie.

    Tara is annoying to me right now because I’m already tired of her bitterness. However, that being said, there are reasons she is the way she is, and the show will get into that. I think we’ll see a Tara who handles life the only way she knows how in order to keep from getting hurt even more than she already has been.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself because I’ve read the books.

  12. p.s. Sam is a shape shifter and can morph into any shape that he wishes

    he can morph any “portion” of his body that he would like

    I need a cold shower, dang flashbacks from the BOOKS have me hot and bothered

  13. 1969, when I saw the picture on the wall, I was like — foreshadowing, much??? LOL! I know the dog is a significant character. Werewolf? Shape shifting vampire? One of the two..

  14. I saw the first episode…I’m ambivalent…I missed the last one…..I’m not feeling Tara’s accent at all….I know plenty of people from Louisiana and have yet to hear an Afrobella speak like that…but, what do I know….I’ll see if I can get into it or not.

  15. oooh — Nettypooh — you just made me wanna go read the books! LOL

  16. OMG finally i can find someone who knows and loves the show. My ass is already on a count down til it comes on. I luv all the characters, especially tara she’s a say what she mean type of girl. This show already sucked me in and its a wrap.

  17. Shape shifter? I may need to read a few books. Thanks for the scoop!

  18. not feeling the show, its far too vulgar for my tastes, I like my vampires Bram Stoker style circa 92, that Francis Ford Coppola directed visually stunning masterpiece of a love story.

  19. i do love trueblood, i am a sucker for a good vamp flick/series.

    i will say this the show is sort of a stark contrast to the hbo on demand episodes of bloodcopy. did anyone see that? hbo was running 5 min shorts via ondemand about the vamps coming out and the worlds reaction to them and the japanese breakthrough of the product bloodcopy.

    so i was sort of surprised that the show had a small town feel to it, unlike the global feel of bloodcopy.

    anyhoo, love the show. sometimes tara gets on my nerves, but i am glad she’s not a hoochie or running around with no clothes on. and she seems to genuinely care about sookie. i do love her for asking bill if he ever owned any slaves, i had to laugh at that scene.

    also, a lot of the backlash and prejudiced sentiments of the show reminds me of how not too long ago that is how people felt about people of color (and some still feel that way). so its interesting for me to see black people included in those who are anti vampire. i think a lot of the tension mirrors the civil rights struggle. i wonder how the werewolf aspect will play into the plot and if people will react the same way to them as they have to the vamps.

  20. ChocolateOrchid says:

    Daag! Wish I had HBO. The show looks interesting/really good from its previews!

  21. There is always so much to say about the stereotypes of African American men and women being portrayed in the media (and dare I say music industry) that it seems an almost overwhelming chore. Mostly we all think it’s harmless fun and it’s is…until it isn’t. I just wonder why we are the only race that continually does this to such staggering degrees and then wonder why people buy into it.

  22. Bella, you really are a friend in my head. LOL I was just thinking about posting about True Blood on my blog, but have yet to do it. I LOVE Lafayette. I think he’s hilarious and his character is as intelligent as he is flamboyant…not to mention perceptive and caring. Tara…eh. She has some funny lines here and there and her crush thing is cute (lets her show a different, vulnerable side), but I’m not totally feeling her yet. We’ll see what the next few episodes do for her.

    I kinda like Sookie…although I’m not sure why she stays 75% naked all the time. Why do they have that child wearing slutty pajamas as outdoor clothing? LOL Her little vampire boyfriend is soooooo not sexy at all. I don’t know who told him that vampires have to look all shifty eyed all the time, but they lied to him. I tease my husband now with the “vampire look.” lol I put my chin to my chest and growl whatever I’m trying to say. We are goofy people, I tell ya.

    All in all, I like the show so far and I’ll keep watching. Oh and I like Sookie’s brother. He’s a believable small town man-boy.

  23. I watched the first episode and dvr’d the 2nd and egerly await watching it. I’ve decided to give the show a 3 episode trial, seeing after “John From Cincinnati” I refuse to commit to a new show all the way even if it is a product of the normally exceptional HBO network.

    The Tara character didn’t turn me off at first, maybe because I was and am still hopeful that the writers of this series are better than the stereotypical black women portrayal. What ever the case may be, showing that that Tara has a mind with her reading “The Shock Doctrine” isn’t going to placate my suspicions especially with her calling people racists in the same scene with out the viewer being given any visual proof.

    Lafayette doesn’t bother me…

    More troubling is how Sookie can read minds, but she has not chosen to use her gift/abitly to become anything above a waitress ……

  24. Any hints as to where those of us without HBO can find it I’m interested.

  25. Arg! Forgot punctuation…

    Any hints as to where those of us without HBO can find it? I’m interested in checking it out.

  26. Beth: You can go online and watch episodes on HBO.com (or just click on the link Bella has provided above).

    I can’t wait to see the series. I’ve read the books and loved them!

  27. I downloaded episodes 1-2 last night and synced them to my ipod…..life is good. I am a very happy camper.

    I didn’t understand the comments about Tara until watching. Her character is good and bad. She is more integral to the show but doesn’t feature as prominently in the book. Also in the book she owns a little boutique. But on the series, she’s a barfly…very weird, but you gotta admit..chick has some wicked ass lines lol.

    If you read the series you will discover that Sookie is not fond of wearing clothes and spends a lot of time in her front yard in a bikini getting her tan on. Remember that she is in her early twenties and is learning more about herself.

    Read the first book while you wait for the next episode!

    download the episodes from www. btjunkie.com
    use utorrent (www.utorrent.com) to manage your bittorrent downloads.

    nettypooh

  28. I haven’t seen it yet. Been meaning to look for it On Demand.

    I’m still waiting on the return of Big Love. :(

  29. I’m waiting for Big Love too. And LOST. AND TOP CHEF.
    AND AMAZING RACE.

  30. I absolutely adore this show, it will hold me over until the return of Big Love! Anyhow, whats the deal with Jason? I haven’t quite figured him out, or is he just a fang-groupie?

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  32. I actually haven’t seen the show yet (you just made me turn on the On Demand and find the show) but I will drop a comment after I watch it. But on the other subject I am not really offended by the stereotypical figures of blacks. I would rather see some type of balance between the stereotypical black person and a not so stereotypical figure.

  33. Yes I can see where one would cringe. First of all the fake Southern accents are just atrocious. Tara is a far more intelligent ‘sassy Black friend’ and I can see hints of a story building and am hoping the writers will take some of the edge off. I like Lafayette. The scene from Ep 1 where he and the other waitresses are having their sex appeal interchange was funny.

    I have been reading another Vampire Series by L.A. Banks that I highly recommend.

  34. Several of the characters are stereotypical, not just the African American ones…the matriarchal grandmother who is interested in Civil War era Confederacy history, is loving, but stern and cooks up a mean Southern breakfast; the slutty waitress (don’t know much else about her yet).

    And don’t even get me started on some of these accents…way over the top.

    That being said, I am addicted to this show already.

  35. Like you, I don’t spend much time with tv – I confess I just discovered The Wire on DVD at the library (didn’t know what I was missing).

    Haven’t seen this one, but will say HBO does tend to produce the only shows I’ll watch, so may give it a shot.

  36. Just read in the paper today that True Blood has already been picked up for another season

  37. Sassy blk friend character makes me cringe. I can’t stand it, it makes the blk woman come across as mamiish. I find that Neicey Nash often plays this type of roll, even on that show on the Style Network.

  38. shay-d-lady says:

    I lOOOOOVE the show. I too was a little taken aback upon first seeing the Tara character but to me its like they took the stereotype and nuanced it. She is a full character. She is black, she is angry comments like “I aint sassy, Im uppity” make you think if you take the time to understand the meaning. Lafayette is the same way, he is definitely not the stereotypical homosexual man. He is mammy, twan, thug love all in one again providing a very three dimensional view of an oft 1 dimensional character. Now I do think most of them have THE WORST accents I have ever heard but, the first 2 episodes have me hooked.

  39. Ok. watched the newest episode last night. I think I like it. The accents are more Kentucky/W.VA accents…
    ’till next time…

  40. Caught both the episodes on On Demand, I liked it.

    Yes, the Black characters do leave something to be desired though. Tara is just outright rude half the time, & it gets old real fast. And the fact that she’s such a sucker for Sookie’s idiot poon hound brother is such a contradiction for a person that’s so strong willed, I don’t get that… Lafayette is a little better, but still, typical…but if that’s the way they were written in the book, then, it is what it is…

    Man, you guys, I didn’t even get the fact that Sam is a shapeshifter/was the dog, how could I have missed that?! Thanks for putting me up on it.

    Did anyone peep Aunjanue Ellis in the last few minutes of the second series?! Hopefully, she’ll be a better Black character on here, even though it looks like she’s one of the baddies. I’m a big fan of her work.

    I’m going to have to get up on these books.

    And Nettypooh, oh gyrl, if they ever bring the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series to life, WOW, those love scenes will be off the chain…Oooh-whee!!!

    LOL…

  41. I think Sam’s a shift changer but not a werewolf but a simply a dog.

  42. I meant shape shifter. I think I’m thinking about my job lol.

  43. I am loving this series. Tonight’s episode was good. The part where Sam was growling in his sleep was funny. I can’t wait to see how the series progresses.

    The LA Banks series is my favorite. I am an absolute sucker (no pun intended) for Vampire series novels. I will definitely have to check out this Anita Blake series.

  44. jazzymelanin says:

    much prefer the vampire huntress books by l.a. banks. would love to see jada pinkett in the lead role

    maybe there’s hope for the portrayal of tara; she was reading the shock doctrine in the first episode

    the concept of this vampire tale is interesting but i don’t feel it’s being executed well

  45. Now I’ll have to add the LA Banks books to my reading list as well. I am also a huge fan of vampire literature.

  46. Yes True Blood is also my new Sunday to watch show!
    Next to Dexter. I must say HBO has done it again, cuz after the Sopranos and The Wire went off, I was soooooo upset, but HBO hasn’t failed Ur gurl yet!
    I’m Lovin the cousin…he is gay, but it’s like under
    the radar, Sookie is ok too and I’m lovin her Grandma, she looks jus like my great grandmother who
    we used to call Big Red! Tara is a woman after my own heart, but tell me y she likes Sookie’s Knuckle
    Headed brother?

  47. The only reason I would continue to watch would be Alexander Skarsgard. He appeared in Generation Kill and he’ll be seen in upcoming episiodes of True Blood. He could bite me anytime :)

  48. jazzymelanin says:

    flygyrl72 also check out Fledging by Octavia Butler. This was her last novel before she passed :(

    Banks also has a couple of werewolf novels that I just purchased

  49. I started watching the show because of this post and I think I’m going to love it! I really liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I love the vampire dramas. Plus this one actually has Black people so that is a plus! I like the best friend too. She did a good job in a movie called How She Move. I really like her. Thanks for turning me onto this show :)

  50. i really like the show already. i only have basic cable, but i catch up on episodes on http://www.surfthechannel.com

    I understand her boss being a shapeshifter, but why can’t Sookie read his thoughts, i’m sure his thoughts mention something about him being able to change.

    the very first episode that i watch had a different actress playing Tara, but then when i wiki’ed the show it said that the pilot was shot twice with two different actresses playing the role of Tara. Trust me the one that you guys see now it ALOT better then the first the had.

  51. Thanks Jazzy Melanin, I’ve been meaning to pick up Fledgeling for a while now.

    And also, since it seems that you like werewolves too (I totally dig them, even more than vamps. Everytime I see Underworld, I root for the Lycans), pick up “Lonely Werewolf Girl” by Martin Millar, if you’re not already familiar with it. It’s awesome! Such a fun read!

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Lonely-Werewolf-Girl/Martin-Millar/e/9780979663666/?itm=1

    And Devon, thanks for the surfthechannel link, I’m goin to use that since I haven’t had cable since The Sopranos went off…

  52. I like the show.. at first I did not like Tara..but it seems like her character is getting more complex. But I can’t stand her attitude… and her gay cousin gets under my skin..why are the only two black people on the show like this??? Even that black vampire has a serious attitude.

  53. My first time commenting on your site EVER. First off I love the site. Second I re-ordered HBO just so that I can watch this show. I loved the ads that they had in NYC which got me intrigued. So far the acting seems to be overdone but I still like it. The Black dude cracks me up.

  54. I like the show, but the exaggerated Southern stereotypes get old at times. I grew up in Monroe, LA, a city that lies 98 miles east of Shreveport. Both cities are mentioned prominently in the story. Yes, you can find people who fit some of the quirks displayed on this show, but that’s true in any place in the country.

    Tara’s character is more like many young sisters at home than I’d like to admit. I like the way that the scripts are building her story slowly over each episode. As for Lafayette–crazy on a stick…

  55. I’m in LOVE with this show. I must say for everyone who was offended by the characters on the show; I think you are missing a much bigger context.

    I find this show to be more about Social Commentary and stereotypes than a true portrayal of individuals and ethnicities.

    Look at the issues being dealt with – social integration for vampires, civil rights, and the percieved perceptions by the locals, etc. These aspects of the show simply relate to viewers how screwed up our country is when it comes to social issues. Once you look at it in that light, the stereotypical portrayals don’t matter much.

  56. what do you expect when a white man is writing the script? I still like the show. Although, I don’t understand why there’s so much sex in it. I am more of a Heroes fan.

  57. I love love love love this show! I am so hooked. I love tara she is my favorite character, and I like the way she because she reminds me a “real black girl”. meaning yes she is sassy and out spoken like most black women are but she also has a gentler side, that you see when you watch the episodes… and for the girl who said that sookie brother is no ot she is tippin! in conclusion the show is the best thing on television right now because it it different and not all about highschoolers and money. It’s dramatic, unique, and will definitely be on at my house every sunday!

  58. Hello everyone, love that people are raving about the show…..here’s a link where I view the show myself:

    http://www.fastpasstv.com/

    Here you can watch the show for free and whatever else is posted there – some pretty good stuff. I love the show and have been a trufan from the very beginning. Interesting things I’m hearing about Sam tho – it’ll be interesting indeed to see how his character turns out. Love Tara and Lafayette……I fully enjoy seeing both of them in this show. Cant wait until next Sunday – need my dose of TRUE BLOOD. For those who plan to use the site that I posted, just type in TRUE BLOOD in their search and all episodes should pop up.

  59. I’ve been watching the episodes on line, and the show is strangely addictive even those accents are not Louisiana accents. They sound like they’re more from Mississippi or somewhere.

  60. Hey, great site!.

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