Welcome back to our continued recap and analysis of sex and gender issues in HBO’s True Blood. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out last week’s article, where we discussed the questionable transformation of series regular Tara into a cagefighting lesbian.
Throughout the previous three seasons of True Blood, Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse has been a character embroiled in contradictions. She’s sweet, innocent girl-next-door that everyone loves, but she’s also been sexually and romantically involved with a vampire – still a serious taboo in the world of the show. Similarly, at one time or another, pretty much every male character on True Blood has tried to protect Sookie, but between her ability to read minds and her crazy fairy-magic light attack, she’s proven herself to be one of the most formidable forces on the show.
This past week, a particular conversation between the character and the vampire Eric (played by Alexander Skarsgård) put on a finer point on Sookie’s dual nature:
While trying to convince her to become “his,” Eric points out that “there are two Sookie Stackhouses,” the side that wants to be merely human, and the more powerful fairy part of herself. When Sookie responds with some sarcastic, sexually laden snark, Eric mentions that it is her fairy side coming out to play. This establishes that while Sookie’s character certainly exhibits some classic virgin/vamp characteristics, her conflicted nature goes much deeper than that. And perhaps even more interestingly, it is hinted that Sookie’s saucy, vampy fairy side is what could save her, a subversion of typical dichotomies, wherein the woman is often punished for deviating from the virgin archetype.
The human/fairy struggle constantly playing out within Sookie is given even more thematic weight when we consider the opening scene of the season’s first episode. While relaxing and mingling in a heavenly garden, Sookie and the other semi-fairies are encouraged to eat the light fruit, drawing heavy parallels to the Biblical story of Eden. Unlike in Genesis, however, people aren’t cast out into the world for eating the fruit, but instead, are forbidden from leaving their fairy “paradise.” Once again, a classic trope with misogynist leanings is tweaked and repurposed to highlight the strength and power of Sookie Stackhouse, who is allowed to safely return to her human world (and escape the suddenly demonic fairies) specifically because she did not partake of the light fruit.
What do you think? Does the human/fairy divide within Sookie comment upon a classic virgin/vamp dichotomy? And if it does, do you think it’s an intentional connection, or just a consequence of the story the show’s creators are telling? And finally, would you like to see more of Sookie embracing her fairy-side?
Watch True Blood with us on Sunday nights at 9pm on HBO, and then make sure to join us back here on Wednesday to talk about the show.