True Blood: Sex, Gore, and Abortions Performed by Spellcraft
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I’ve maintained since its inception that True Blood does its darndest to defy strict allegorical reading. First its vampires were supposed to be gay, demanding the right to marry humans; then they were locked in an Israel-Palestine-esque suicide bombing-riden war with fundamentalist Christians, now they’re being obliquely compared to Muslims, as confused citizens equate a“terrorist” loner with an assimilationist mainstream. Over the course of the series, they’ve stood in for a hundred other groups from Nazis to social outcasts. Plus, these undead characters still maintain the qualities that have made vampires fascinate us from Nosferatau to Edward Cullen -- their bites indicate sex, their immortality brings both power and ennui, their status as nightwalkers asks what it means to be human. And so on, and so forth.
In terms of the sexual fantasies these vamps conjure up, the show tries to provide something for everyone. There are topless females at a rate only matched by rear male nudity. We’ve got gay and lesbian sex scenes and same-sex bites. And on top of all that, we’ve seen plenty of vampire-blood fueled dream sequences that pair up the most unimaginable characters for steamy make-out sessions. The show has ratcheted up the violence, the gushing blood and tissue, the severed body parts and exposed bone, to a point where it’s almost too campy to be believable. Creator Alan Ball seems to have figured out how to consistently reel the most disaffected, ready to give-up viewer back in by sprinkling the show with what amounts to a bit of visual candy for every type of television watcher imaginable.
And that is the essence of the show; True Blood is a concoction of playful, provocative and shocking visuals without much underneath them, some of which hit the mark, many of which don’t. Tara, the show’s primary black female character, running away from a vampire mansion in Mississippi pursued by werewolves brought up slavery imagery that didn’t sit well with race-conscious viewers -- while teenage vampire Jessica biting her formerly virginal human boyfriend Hoyt resonated because it reversed teenage gender roles and poked fun at chaste films like “Twilight.” Jessica, a baby vampire struggling to both accept and control her appetites for blood, sex and mayhem is one of True Blood's most consistently-developed and beloved characters, an assertive she-vampire in the midst of too many victimized women. With lovestruck Sookie and hounded Tara, both made into whiners by the writers, the show has lost some of the sassy “you go girl” attitude that makes the books a pseudo-feminist treat.
But one cheeky bit of satire that has worked well this season involves a Wiccan abortion ceremony. Arlene, another whiner, is the only waitress who has ever lasted long at local dive Merlotte’s. She’s meant to be a local Red-State gal, a small-minded, tough, single mother, susceptible to manipulation and suspicious of supernatural creatures. She loves men, but she still hasn’t recovered from the shock that the stable guy she recently found, Rene, turned out to be a psychotic serial killer targeting every vampire-friendly lady within a ten mile radius. Sookie finished him off with a shovel.
And then, this season, once Arlene has finally landed an actually decent guy (Terry, Merlotte’s cook), she realizes she’s carrying Rene’s baby. And she is convinced the deceased papa has passed on his evil ways genetically -- she’s got demon spawn inside of her! First Arlene goes into denial, letting Terry think the baby is his; then she tells him the truth and he swears to her that loving parenting will erase the satanic genetic coding of the future infant.