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Tuesday, 25 of April of 2017

Tag » True Blood

True Blood and the Rape of Jason Stackhouse

Oh dear, we've been here before...yet this time, I'm grossed out.

It has been a few days, and I still cannot get that image of Jason Stackhouse out of my mind.

I’m going to go on the record and say that Crystal’s rape of Jason was not only super icky but also downright disturbing. This man has been captured, stored in a freezer, tied to a disgusting bed, tortured (repeated panther bites sure qualifies), drugged (with Viagra, to facilitate the forced sex, ‘natch), and then raped while a crowd of female onlookers watch.

The worst part of that line of female onlookers is that I wondered if the show wants me to see all of them as in a queue to hop on board.  Gross.

Jason Stackhouse is a rather clueless character. But he has heart, so even when he becomes super annoying, he always find a way to bring you back in. Often, his storylines are frustrating because you just wish he would open his eyes and stop talking to that super dangerous woman (with each season, just insert a different dangerous woman, and you have Jason’s storylines pretty much summed up). Yes, I have sometimes wanted to fast forward his scenes. Yes, his ripped bare chest has often been his primary redeeming feature.

But the character, even a horndog character likes this, does not deserve this story line.

Let’s think about all the ways this storyline can go really, really wrong. It will be something along these lines…

1)   Someone assumes a man can’t be raped, particularly by a woman

2)   Someone laughs at the notion that Jason would be upset to be raped by a hot woman

3)   Someone notes that Jason has already slept with Crystal, so it can’t be rape

4)   Someone suggests that within a love relationship, only assault (not rape) is possible

5)   Someone comments that Jason is a slut, so he got what was coming to him (there are many variations on this theme—he should have known better than to hang out with a bunch of panthers, etc.)

6)   Jason falls back in love with Crystal through this experience

I could probably go on, but let me tell you what all the above statements have in common. They are all vicious, vicious lies. And we tell them all the freakin’ time.

Perhaps part of the reason I am troubled is that we’ve been here before with True Blood. Tara, who is still the reigning champion of annoying characters (but don’t worry, Tara, there is such a long line of characters behind you vying for the title, I’m sure you can hand over the crown soon enough), but she, too, did not deserve to be raped, tortured, and manipulated by a psychotic supernatural.

Tara’s storyline was almost made too easy. Franklin Mott had zero redeeming value. He was a monster, and acted accordingly. The role of the rape in Tara’s storyline was to encourage her finally to stand up for herself. This is not an unknown trope with young female characters. In its more banal form, Marianne of Sense and Sensibility has to be brutalized (emotionally) in order to mature.  Yet even there, the sense that a part of her character (the part that shines brightly) has to be forced out of her by pain and anguish disturbs me.  You see, Marianne has to be broken to be ready for real love with a more appropriate partner.

Is rape a narrative trope? One that makes annoying characters more sympathetic/strong? Is it how we tame characters that reach too far beyond likeability or believability?

One other important point for the True Blood writers: rape is not sexy. If I ever see even the tiniest hint that Jason’s victimization by Crystal should arouse me, I’m going to be very angry. True Blood has a lot of investment in sexiness—just look at that poster with Sookie and the three men that vie for her heart. True Blood achieves sexiness in the most unexpected places—most often when characters stare longingly or the sexual tension becomes palpable. But quite frequently the sexiness is not achieved in the bedroom (or bathroom stall, whatev’)—that is just mechanics. Real sexiness happens in the moments that lead to the bedroom.

I may be exposing my gender here. I am not aroused (often) by explicit sexuality. But I am quite aroused by sexiness. As once discussed in a podcast available on this site, the gross use of nudity on Game of Thrones disappointed me less because I’m a prude and more because I like genuine sexiness.

But when rape is the center of the storyling, I want responsible writing. Rape is not a topic television has to avoid, per se (this was a question posed after the rape storyline on Private Practice played out during the last season of that show). However, how rape should be displayed, for what purpose, and to what extent is a very tricky issue, and the line between honest depiction of a human experience of violence and downright exploitation is very, very thin.

I’m not sure how True Blood plans ot handle this story with Jason. My fear derives in part from the fact that he’s male, making the depiction of male rape one that can educate or one that can resort to all the worst stereotypes about aggressive male sexuality. But I’m also afraid because Jason is the comedy relief. If he has become a victim of a violent crime, will the show be willing to portray his trauma without a snicker? Without Jason being unintentionally funny? Because again, there is nothing (may I repeat, NOTHING) funny about rape. Ever. I hope you know what you are doing with this storyline, True Blood.


True Blood – “Evil is Going On”

“I have never loved, nor will I ever love, as I have loved you”

With a show as cliffhanger heavy as True Blood it can be hard to obtain the usual shock value of hanging story lines that most season finales contain. This episode proved that. Actually this episode proved a lot of things that have become very apparent in the third season of the show. Some characters obviously don’t matter anymore. Some characters just cannot have good stories. The line between intriguing and absurdity in the supernatural world is very, very thin.

True Blood has changed a lot in three years. But in many ways it’s stayed the same. Both are problematic. Many of the events of the finale are able to be applied to the problems of the characters and the series as wholes. It’s awfully meta. And far more interesting to think about than the episode (and more and more the show) itself.

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True Blood – “Fresh Blood”

“Soon there will be anarchy. And then there will be me.”

Recovering from last week’s Faerygate, True Blood reminded us of evils of non-supernatural origins. In a show featuring vampires and werewolves and (fuckin’) faeries, there are still many real and terrible demons of other kinds that people have to face.

And Sam’s are coming out of the woodwork.

After a look back at Sawyer Sam’s past last week it seems it is catching up to him in a hurry. His anger issues getting the best of him, he goes on a drunken tirade, kicking all patrons out of Merlotte’s and insulting Terry, Arlene, Tommy and Holly.

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True Blood – “I Smell a Rat”

“I’m a faery? How fucking lame.”

My thoughts exactly, Sookie.

The faery’s out of the bag. The mystery behind “What is Sookie Stackhouse?” has been revealed and I’ve gotta say it’s pretty fucking stupid. I mean like “Who’s on the list?” and “Who’s Claire’s dad?” and every other Heroes mystery reveal stupid. A telepath with some sweet powers was enough of an explanation for me but when they started teasing there was more to Sookie than that I was pretty pumped for what the true source of her power was. All I was left thinking after this episode was “What the Puck?”.

That’s why her blood tastes so good. That’s why she has the powers that she does. That’s why everyone finds her so irresistible. Blah blah faery fuckin’ blah. I don’t know why the introduction of faeries to a show that includes vampires, werewolves, shifters, maenads, etc. upsets me so much but it does. It really does.

And it’s that terribly disappointing intro that set the tone for a somewhat meh overall episode. Even putting the faery business aside (which was very hard to do) “I Smell a Rat” sure smelled a lot worse than just a sewer dwelling rodent.

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There is a Problem with the Pears – This Week in Monster

These are pears.

We’ll discuss it later.

It’s been a busy week at Monsters of Television. This whole “summer-is-just-another-season/no-rest-for-the-weary” thing the networks are doing is wearing me out. But we can’t really complain about some of the great television we’re getting. Well, mostly great television. Hopefully Melissa & Joey doesn’t create a great abyss that sucks the life out of everything we hold dear. Forget the atomic collider in Switzerland: that show might obliterate the universe on its own, unraveling the fabric of time and space with ill-timed canned laughter and overacting that would make the cast of SNL blush.

Sorry. I digress.

We have some really great reviews for you to take a look at this week, from Mad Men to True Blood to Sherlock to, gods help us, that aforementioned pit of despair. If you missed any, it’s new to you!

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True Blood – “Everything is Broken”

“Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals. We will eat you. After we eat your children. Now time for the weather. Tiffany.”

Everything is broken indeed.

As Russell ‘s plans continue to move forward, with more rage now due to the murder of his beloved Talbot, things aren’t looking so great for a whole lot of people. Even those in story lines only vaguely (or not at all) connected to the overall “Russell’s bid for ultimate power and dominance over humans” aren’t having such a good time right now. Makes sense. With only three episodes left in the season things have got to get even worse for our characters before they can get better. But do they ever really get better? Bon Temps is kind of a shitty place to live what with all the drug trafficking, evil orgies, murder and the like occurring on a regular basis.

But it makes for good TV. And in the end that’s all that matters.

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True Blood – “Night on the Sun”

“I’m bored. Take off your clothes.”

Oh my.

The sex and violence contained in the last 10 minutes of “Night on the Sun” alone should be enough to convert any former nonbeliever. The beauty of it (besides all the naked bodies) is it’s not just for spectacle. There is shock value, sure, but there’s real story progression and character development behind it. And probably the most unbelievable part of it: it made Sookie likable. For 10 minutes anyway.

Let’s be honest: Sookie sucks. She’s whiny and stubborn and impossibly, idiotically impulsive. However, this season has managed to do a great job in getting characters and the audience alike to really want to know what the hell she is. While I too find myself staring up at my ceiling as I lie in bed on Sundays night pondering “Just what are you, Sookie Stackhouse?” it doesn’t make me like her as a character. Put a pair of scissors and a shotgun in her hands and then she gets a little more interesting.

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True Blood – “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues”

“Please don’t kill me, I’m pregnant. That probably just makes you want to eat me even more.”

True Blood has always been a show about character. First and foremost. Set in a mostly realistic world, the season storylines have always been more about how it paints parallels to the real world and the way it affects the characters. While this season overall is about power struggles between vampire kingdoms and between races of supernatural beings, it really comes down to character which in essence means it’s about people. As the stakes are being raised, both literally and figuratively, “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues” showed us that emotions run high even when you’re dead and vampires aren’t necessarily the epitome of perfection.

Greed, love and jealousy aren’t just emotions reserved for humans. It seems that even in living forever these feelings do as well. With every week we learn more and more how crazy Franklin is but it’s also apparent why he is the way he is. He’s said his work is his life, he doesn’t have much time for himself or relationships. Is that not something a lot of us can relate to? Sure, it doesn’t excuse kidnapping Tara and riding her every word and action as obsessively as he does, but he gets what’s coming to him as Tara puts an escape plan into action which involves drinking Franklin’s blood and bashing his skull in with a mace.

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True Blood – “9 Crimes”

“I’m a vampire, not a fucking idiot.”

HBO didn’t air a new episode of True Blood last Sunday. I guess they don’t think vampires are American enough. They divvy up land how they see fit, feel vastly superior to all others around them and suck the blood of others for sustenance. Sounds pretty American to me.

After a week off, things seem to be vamping amping up quite quickly. A third of the season is over and done with and with as many character and story convergences “9 Crimes” gave us, that fan is gonna be covered in shit for quite some time. Is that to say everything going on is interesting? Not necessarily right now. But there is oh so much potential. Except for Tara. My god, just kill her already.

In a scene we’ve all been waiting for since watching (and rewatching and rewatching) the season three promo, Bill breaks up with Sookie. He tells her he doesn’t want to be found and tells Sookie (and reminds the audience) of the crazy vampire sex he and Lorena had. Of course this is all so Sookie won’t come looking for him and he can keep her safe while he deals with Lorena and Russell. But he should know better than that as this only makes Sookie want to find him more.

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True Blood – “It Hurts Me Too”

“If you plan on rescuing a vampire during daylight I have seriously overestimated your intelligence.”

Ensemble casts are great, but they can be a bitch to keep in check. In just three episodes True Blood has introduced a number of new faces this season and it’s started to spread everyone, both old and new, relatively thin. Of course during a show’s run certain characters are going to have to sit in the backseat from time to time (isn’t that right Chase and Cameron from House M.D.?) but everyone at once?

The first two episodes of the season were shot out of a high-speed cannon, hurtling us right into the story. But after “It Hurts Me Too” we’re left to pick up the little pieces of story and character shrapnel spread out all over the place. And they’re very little pieces. Now this isn’t to say the episode was bad, it wasn’t, there is just so much going on with so many different people that everything feels rushed. It doesn’t help that not everyone has an interesting storyline either. Let’s start with some of our newcomers.

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