True Blood – 3×06: Sym-PATHETIC

I follow screenwriter, John August, on Twitter (and if I lived in L.A. I’d probably follow him to the supermarket, too). Well, about a week ago he tweeted this hilarity about the show I love to hate:

“For this season of True Blood, I’m pretty sure the writing staff took their whiteboard markers and smoked them.”

Harharhar. At least I can get a good laugh at their expense being that I’m getting very little else (;

Just last night I saw the latest episode of True Blood, “I Got A Right To Sing the Blues”. It took a minute what with all my blinding excitement over the Mad Men premiere on Sunday evening, as well as that whole working-to-make-a-living thing I had to do for 9 hours the following day. Anyway, I feel as “meh” as ever about the episode considering that I have finally given up, and into, the fact that it’ll just never be great. I’ve bitched enough about the ways in which it continues to fail to even try and continue to look for something to save it.

In the end though, watching TB has turned into a fulfilling learning experience as an aspiring writer. It’s incredible to follow such a television anomaly containing (1) a premise with great potential for political/social/philosophical themes, (2) the rarity of total creative freedom (due to its near ratings-proof existence on pre-payed HBO), (3) an Academy-Award-winning showrunner, and (4) an immense fan-base and reach… but yet continues to create anything meaningful in spite of all these advantageous factors. After all, it helps me to play the “What-Would-I-Have-Done-Differently?” game every once in a while, as opposed to the “How-The-Frak-Did-They-Think-Of-That?” game I’m so used to. So thanks for sucking, True Blood!

It’s come to my attention that I’ve been discussing the concept of ‘sympathy’ a lot in my Treme, True Blood, and Mad Men posts this summer. Through the slow and arduous process that is the art of screenwriting, I’ve come to learn the importance of creating sympathy and what a legit requirement it is for all characters (good or evil) to be sympathetic. However, I’ve also come to realize that it’s only half the fight. The other (and perhaps more important!) half is making them interesting enough to care about in the first place. I could feel sorry for the situation a character finds themselves in and want them to rise above it and enjoy watching their struggle as they try to do so, but if they aren’t a particularly interesting person to boot, then why would I care THAT much about them surviving it in the first place? Sure, no one wants an innocent person to become a victim, even if they are a victim of themselves, but we also need something extra from them aside from their ability to continue breathing if we’re going to follow them week to week. In other words: What does this person add to the world by staying in it? Characters like Tara and Jason Stackhouse of True Blood are perfect examples of victims that have worn out their pity-party because they add ZERO to the world they live in. In other words, they put the “pathetic” in sympathetic.

Alright, its bullet point time (in no particular order)!

  • Eric is very tall and delicious and can pull of seafoam green. Nom nom nom.
  • Oh God, I cackled outloud at Jason’s ‘confession of love’ for Crystal: “Don’t break my heart. Not when you’re with me. I’ll take care of you.” Sweet Baby Dios, its only been an hour you moronic bag of air!!
  • For the life of me I can’t see the dramatic purpose for Jessica and Arlene’s storyline at Merlotte’s all night. Every time they would cut back to it I kept thinking: “What the hell is at stake here: That some fat white woman won’t get up from her booth and they are going to get out of work late? That was MY day today. I don’t need to relive this again!!” It all ended with nothing more than the revelation that Jessica is still victimizing humans and… we already knew that. Addressing Jessica’s vampiric thirst for blood one would hope that they are finally going to touch upon some of the issues regarding the nature of vampires, free will, and their moral compasses… but its highly doubtful considering the shallow and superficial direction the show has consistently taken. Personally, the only thing that made these scenes bearable to me was that they starred Jessica and Arlene, whose comic relief as well as their relative lack of blatant stupidity tends to be enjoyable. I even giggled at Arlene’s delivery of this line when she cut her finger and Jessica’s fangs came out:
  • “Don’t kill me. I’m pregnant! Ohhhh that probably just makes you want to eat me more!” – Arlene

  • Jesus and Lafayette!!!! I think True Blood should be canceled and HBO should just have a spin-off of these two with Eric cast as the new Vampire King. After all, Lafayette is forever linked to him via blood and their business partnership with the V. They could be badass gay superheroes who go around tag teaming (no pun intended) hicks with their baseball bats and brass knuckles. By far, after only two episodes, Jesus and Lafayette are one of my favorite gay couples on television (but still forever ousted by OZ‘s Tobias Beecher and Chris Keller!). Although Jesus seems to have walked out on Lafayette for his involvement in dealing V, this isn’t over. If I had to guess, I’d say that Jesus will think of some kind of plan to get Lafayette out of the bind he’s in with Eric and the V after Lafayette explains that he’s doing this against his will. This could lead them into the drama between Eric, Queen Sophie-Ann, and Russell by the end of the season.
  • No Hoyt. WTF was up with that?
  • Was this some kind of non-funny Sookie joke, or did this happen and I forgot:
  • “Once I threw a chain around someone and it wrapped itself around them like that snake thing from Alien. That’s all.” – Sookie

  • Okay, not kidding here, I got a little sick to my stomach when Tara began telling Franklin that shit about drinking his blood while making love to him. As if the delivery of every line in that voice of hers isn’t enough to turn my stomach as it is! Of course, you can imagine the consequent heaving sensation that rose up once she bit into his neck and chewed the flesh right off! No, I am not queezy; I love blood and gore! I’ve seen every George A. Romero zombie flick multiple times and Dario Argento makes me laugh… but this? Gag. It had to have just been my extreme hate for these two that made it so disgusting.
  • I’m sorry to continue with the negatives but it just cracks me up. The telepathic message that Tara sent to Sookie in the middle of the night might as well have been out of an episode of Passions:
  • “Wait until sunrise. We’re going to need all the luck in the world. I’m not going to give up without a fight.” – Tara

  • After the disgust had subsided — and Sookie and Tara were running around the house like dumbasses and thus representing women everywhere as confused idiots who just scream and flee during times of danger and can only kill a bad guy by “shooting the gun with their eyes closed” — I suddenly got a different kind of pang in my stomach: Alcide and Tara! When he finds her running through the fields behind the mansion I had the horrifying sensation that the writers might try and create a romantic storyline between these two, thus finally destroying any semblance of hope for a great new character left inside me along with it. I pray pray pray I’m wrong.
  • On a brighter note: Half of Team Taraklin gets hacked to death! One down. One to go.
  • Lorena = Chatty Dexter. Snoreeeeee. Just made me wish I was watching Dexter stab someone in the heart instead.
  • More talking about the inner workings of vampire nature without actually talking about them:
  • “You never embraced our nature.” – Lorena
    Your nature! It was never mine! I welcome death because only then will I be truly free of the disease. Is you.” – Bill

  • ^^MISSED OPPORTUNITIES! Make your show about something more! Discuss what makes people people by telling us what makes vampires different! I’ve said this before but I’ll say it another hundred times until perhaps the writers wake up: what makes a vampire a vampire?! And what happens to vampires that are convicted of killing humans? Are they in normal jails? Are there special vampire jails? Is it illegal to turn someone into a vampire if they willingly agree to it or is murder? So much opportunity for amazing plot lines in a world where vampires are out in the open, but instead we get Jason Stackhouse banging amnesiacs in the forest.
  • Dog fighting. So we find out what kind of abuse it was that the Mickens were using on their son, Tommy, and it wasn’t sexual. Quite possibly another missed opportunity if you consider how sex is thrown around like its free, meaningless, and inconsequential so often on True Blood that its gone beyond unrealistic, but whatever. Creative choices. I guess this dog fighting thing explains all those scars that Sam saw on Tommy’s back a few episodes ago. I feel bad for Tommy, obviously, but like I said above, that doesn’t mean I like him enough to fall knee-deep into his plight. On the other hand, I care about Sam enough to understand that this is his only brother and he’s not going to let his life be ruined the way Sam’s was, so I’m willing to follow him for now if not only for that.
  • Eric and Russell crack Hitler jokes. Awkward. Then they scare the death out of the Queen and let her know that the war is coming. I’m actually super interested in seeing how this will all play into Eric’s big plan to fuck Russell over for his involvement in the murder of Eric’s parents. Actually, this is the best storyline the show has got going on. I hope it pays off.
  • Oh yes, I forgot. True Blood is about Sookie and Bill right? We were suppose to worry about him dying or something like that? Right. So… big shocker, in case you missed it: he’s doesn’t! Sookie gets attacked and bitten by Lorena and (here is where I prove I’m a televisionary genius), I know what’s going to happen in the next episode! Ready? She doesn’t die either! You may not believe me now, but something deep down inside tells me that a certain someone might come in and save the day. Just sayin’.

So, is Pam still hanging from the roof in Fangtasia? Oh well. Episode Six. Half way through the season. Mom, are we there yet?

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 28, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoy this show for its action and drama, but I think I’m getting tired of the vampires being at the top of the food chain and our heroine quivering with fear every time a big bad vamp shows up. Paging Buffy, the Vampire Slayer!
    http://andyx27.wordpress.com/

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