the sookie stackhouse problem

I know. I feel this confused too, after EVERY EPISODE.

I’ve said before that the female leads of True Blood are “weak and annoying.” It’s been two years since I wrote that and now— better late than never, eh?— I will explain.

True Blood, now more than before, has a Sookie Stackhouse problem. That is to say, although Miss Stackhouse has made a bid against being called weak with those uber-magical spirit fingers, she’s definitely still irksome; and how can a show function when it’s main protagonist is easily the most unlikeable of the bunch?

Since midway through season two, I’ve found it hard to root for Sookie. Yes, she’s smart, and yes she’s sassy. But she’s also self-righteous, to a fault; she’s indignant, full of I told you so’s. And I find her disingenuous— in a recent episode, she tries to turn herself in to her brother, a cop, for the murder of Debbie Pelt, of which she is truly and obviously guilty. Also obvious: her brother won’t accept her admission, as he’s one of the many characters charged with protecting Sookie at any cost. Doesn’t it seem that if she felt she truly deserved the reprecussions of her actions, she would have admitted herself to Sheriff Andy or really, any other human authority figure?

This show, ordinarily lacking in self-awareness, makes up for it tenfold with camp and hotshirtless dudes (you’re welcome— although I’m not including Bill Compton because Ebony says this season, his hair looks like “90s era Keanu”). Season five attempts to bring us True Blood’s hand at sentience, which is everyone just shitting on Sookie; Lafayette accuses her of leaving a trail of dead bodies in her wake, which is very true; Tara threatens never to forgive Sookie for turning her into a vampire, natch; and of course, the ever reliable citizens of Bon Temps won’t forgive her for the latter either. Everyone is mad at Sookie. And it’s about time.

Seems to me that Sookie knows not of repercussions for her actions, at least not personally. Even with all of those heavy faults, she still gets all the hot dudes— even when she kills their ex-fiancées. Yep, looking at you Alcide, you handsome, ridiculous thing, you. In episode four of this season, Sookie, supposedly full of shame for all of the death that just keeps happening around her, cracks open the Peach Schnapps and gets to it. She sings to herself and twitches her ankles in a subtle couch dance. I know I was supposed to find this endearing and relatable— hey girl, I bet there’s a Freschetta in the oven and some rocky road in the freezer too!— but instead, I found myself annoyed. Yet again, we have Sookie playing at the coy victim. “Hope you like me in an orange jumpsuit,” she teases Alcide. Ever the self-congratulator, she later adds, “I killed your ex-girlfriend and you’re still speaking to me… You’ll do anything for me. You’re in love with me.” Woah Sook. Peach Schnapps makes you drunk, not cruel. That was kind of bitchy, yo.

And yet, guys in this show never run out of forgiveness as far as Sookie is concerned, because she’s supposedly the perfect woman. Supposedly. I recently rewatched the pilot, and I wrote:

“We (as) viewers are clearly supposed to be drawn to the attraction between Bill and Sookie… I don’t buy their immediate attraction, but I guess it’s all blood smells and not being able to read the other’s mind.”

As a viewer, I wonder— is it really more than bloodlust that has got these vampires (and werewolf, damn!) lusting after Sook? (Then again, the pilot probably isn’t the best place to draw conclusions from. I mean, Sam Merlotte looks minimally disheveled, and Bill’s hair is all scraggles. We all know that he brushes his hair into a soft sheen before he leaves Compton Manor for the night. Come on!)

My theory is that the men of this show love our iffy protagonist because at heart, True Blood is simply a nighttime soap opera, albeit one with an array of supernaturals and an overabundance of story lines (or maybe Pam was right about that whole “super snatch/fairy vagina” thing, who knows). Maybe we don’t need to like Sookie. Perhaps we only need to see ourselves in her shoes when she’s being lusted after.

But see, I love True Blood. It’s just hard to love Sookie.

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