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Monday, December 20, 2010

True Blood was bad about women last season, part π

A while back, a friend asked me why I'd given up on True Blood. We talked about misogyny and race and entertainment, but I felt like I wasn't really at the top of my game that day (I'd had a few other things going on), and I came away feeling that I hadn't done a good job of explaining why so much of what happened last season was problematic, or why so much of what happened last season shouldn't just be problematic to me, or to people who look like me.

Too late to change any of that, but I was looking at articles on Pop Matters this morning, trying to figure out their tone (long story), and came across one that takes a good, smart look at what I thought was one of the worst parts of last season, discussing why it seemed not just disturbing, but unacceptable (hooray!). He's talking about that Bill/Lorena scene at the end of the third episode. You know the one and, if you don't, I'm not telling you about it here. (A warning, by the way, that he describes it in some detail at the start of the article, so if you were hoping to start forgetting that image, maybe skip to third paragraph.) I think he does a good job, using examples of other instances of disturbing violence (drawn from films) of explaining what made this one problematic, and also of what why this seemed like only part of True Blood's problem this season:

The week after “It Hurts Me Too” aired I warily sat down to watch the following episode, “9 Crimes”, unsure of what to expect. I can’t tell whether I’ve been sensitised to the show’s violence or whether it has simply become worse, but none of the women fared particularly well. Over the course of the episode, True Blood’s women were held hostage by psychopaths, attacked in their homes, murdered in limousines, and in a particularly stressful scene, publicly branded.
I wouldn’t argue that acts of violence against women or marginalised groups depicted in popular culture are never OK, but here the context seems to speak for itself. One act of violence may be just that, but I’ve seen enough in True Blood to indicate a pattern, and now I find it hard to watch at all. For me, the show’s misogyny is pervasive and unjustified.
From "Vampire Misogyny: Violence in True Blood" 


  1. I agree. And as a reader of the books, I'm disappointed in how, um, weak and un-powerful the main character is - in the books, she's much more the agent of her own plot, she uses her powers more frequently, and is much less helpless at the hands of bad guys than you would think watching the show.
    The violence last season was too much for me.

  2. Ditto. I know it's a show about vampires and weres and assorted other supernatural beings, but that scene with Bill and Lorena is the perfect example of what went wrong with Season 3. It was graphic and violent and off-putting. You can have graphic violence and want to cover your eyes - but you keep peeking. This was just eww.

    Alcide was the only good part of last season. I found myself fast forwarding the dvr to get to his next scene (or anything with Eric and Pam, of course).

    Alcide aside, another thing I've grown to despise about True Blood is the introduction of too many new characters I don't care about when the show already had too many characters to comfortably service.

    I'm torn about season 4. I don't want to waste my time, but Alcide...