I still can’t decide if it’s a good show or not, but I like it. I watched two episodes back to back last night because I’d forgotten it was on (not a good sign) but squealed with delight over and over while watching (a good sign).
I think, to Alan Ball’s credit, he’s managed to capture exactly in TV form trashy beach reading. I watch that show, I wish it could go on a little longer, but when it’s over, I’m not mulling over themes or symbolism or anything.
I am, though, I must say, delighted beyond words to see the return of chest hair to television. Not that I’m kicking anyone out of bed, mind you, but whew fan myself and call me sugar, chest hair just says to me “I have testosterone throbbing through my strong limbs. Do you mind if I scoop you close in and breathe in the luxurious scent of your hair and then kiss you right where you neck gives way to your shoulder?”
Edited to add: “your neck” Apparently chest hair’s first language is not English.
Chest hair; eeeewww!
Dolphin, Dolphin, Dolphin. Do I have to remind you that this was the formative image of manliness in my youth? I cannot be other than what I am.
I could introduce you to my fraternity brother Toombs. He lives in Nashville now, I believe, is into Hank Sr. and Dylan… was an English major… and… the boy’s sporting a man sweater.
He’s also big ol’ teddy bear.
A match made in Heaven, to be sure.
Now, about this show. If I didn’t know Alan ball was behind it, I’d hate it for the over the top acting and ridiculous plotlines. But, Six Feet Under was one of my favorite shows, and in my whole life, I have never seen a better series finale.
You nailed it as “beach” book as television. I just have to remind myself that it is supposed to be campy and over the top.
I wish there would have been a warning on that picture… As you know I cannot stand a hairy chest, but that may be because they don’t belong on women!!
FYI, Shug – women are mammals, and some of them have hair on their chests (as well as other parts of their bodies). Granted, not usually as much as the gentleman in that white shirt is sporting. But still.
I have to agree with Aunt B. But I think it’s less a yum-testosterone thing for me, and more about texture… skin’s pretty awesome on its own, but add a layer of curls, bristle, or fuzz to that and you have double the tactile fun!
So far, I am underwhelmed, Mack’s point about the overacting is valid.
But, what does Alan Ball have against non-gay Black men? And why does the one (stereotypically shrill) Black woman carry the brunt of expressing out loud (real loud) the show’s supposed subtext?
Ha, you know, you can stretch the magical negro just enough to fit Tara quite well, if we assume not that she’s the protagonist’s magical negro but the audience’s. She has a stereotypically “black” background–she is “sassy” and loud, she has trouble holding jobs, she’s from a broken home and her family is substance abusers and drug pushers, but she’s the one who continually gives the audience (who I think it’s safe to presume is mostly white. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but somehow I’m pretty sure most of black America isn’t sitting around saying “Hmm, what shall we do with our Sunday night? Oh, I know, let’s watch a dead Confederate find true love.”) the information and insight they/we need in order to understand what’s going on. Hmm.
The only drawback is that she isn’t magical, but in a world where everyone else has magical powers, and she doesn’t have any, maybe that counts as out of the ordinary.
She maybe mainstream entertainment’s first Unmagical Negro. Well, no, that was Chris Tucker’s role in that buddy movie he did with Charlie Sheen. Actually, the actress reminds me of Tucker in her line readings. Maybe that would make a better series, if Paquin’s character and Tara went around hunting mean vampires and Count Confederate would show up to help like Superman, and Tara could harrumph disapprovingly then deliver some folksy insight. Maybe not a better series, but certainly one that would have been a better sell to the three major networks.
Which reminds me, Kanye West made a pilot series with Larry David for HBO but the network passed, prompting David to say that HBO has a poor track record with Black series. Then I tried to recall what Black series HBO has had (if you do not include The Wire . . . or Oz).
I don’t get Showtime, though, so I have to say has anyone had a good track record with Black series? I mean, for me, the thing The Wire showed was not just that you could make a show that heavily featured all kinds of different black people, but that there are a lot of really talented black actors who should have work. I mean, I cannot for the life of me understand how the hell that show didn’t send some of those actors catapaulting into superstardom except for racism.
It’s like Hollywood is all “Well, we already have Denzel Washington. Do we really need any other Black guys who are so damn sexy you just about can’t stand it?” I saw some show, I can’t remember which, with Wood Harris (Avon) playing a killer who meets his daughter for the first time and he does this thing at the end, where he doesn’t really say anything, but his whole face… it’s like his soul pours out of it… and then he just put his head down on the table. And I was stunned. I felt like that was the most real thing I’d seen on my tv in ages. And my love for Idris Elba knows no bounds.
These guys are hot and they can act. Why is Harris still doing guest stints on other shows?
Whew, I’m on a tangent. Back to Trueblood, the more I think about Tara re Bill, the more I’m really frustrated by the show. I mean, this isn’t just “Your family owned slaves.” This is “You owned slaves, you fought in a war for the right to own slaves, and here you are wanting to sit in my bar and date my friend?”
I mean, it’s not a drama, but we’re supposed to believe that the biggest problem Tara has with Bill is that he’s a vampire?
I mean, I literally cannot imagine what that would be like for a woman growing up in a town where her family has seemingly always lived, probably since they were enslaved and then on down, and, considering the size of Bill’s plantation and the smallness of the town, probably enslaved on Bill’s plantation by Bill and his family, to come face to face with that man. I can’t imagine it.
But that’s what fiction is for, you know? Let me see her trying to work it out, trying to come to terms with it.
But it’s not going to, of course. The more I watch, the more it’s clear it’s just not that smart of a show. Which is really too bad because when you have shows like The Wire and The Sopranos, we know you as a network can do shows that wrestle with weighty things.
And that would require that TV audiences got their heads around the enslaved as humans and that the central barbarity of slavery was not that slaves were treated inhumanly, though they were. The real horror of slavery is that masters knew the humanity of the workers that they used, the complexity of their family lives, made keen observations about these humans — and then used that humanity as the most powerful instrument they had to coerce, manipulate, and punish their workers on a daily basis.
I don’t think white Americans are ready to look that one in the eye, except sidelong, through the conceit of a Confederate vampire that isn’t dead yet.
Which is too bad, though. The Butcher and I talked about this the whole way into work. It’s not hard to imagine something similar happening now (though this historical moment is almost past as well), but what if you were the grandkid of someone who was killed in the Holocaust and you ran across an 80 year old Nazi? And what if that Nazi spent the whole rest of his life being a good person? (and yes, I know just the other day I was complaining about everyone bringing up Hitler, and now I’m doing it). Does punishing that 80 year old accomplish anything? If so, what?
And it’s easy for me to see how deeply mixed a person’s feelings would be, how one person might find it somehow even worse that this person did this horrible thing, was never punished for it, and got to go on to be a “good” person with a good life, and now is only going to be punished when there’s so little of it left to lose. And another person might feel like that was so long ago it doesn’t matter. And a third person might be like “Ha, you thought you could outlive anyone who could give a shit, but here I am to see that you’re going to get what you deserve.”
The possibilities are pretty endless for what would be a human response to being faced with the actual person who caused the suffering of your family. And making that person a vampire does what good fantasy does–makes the stakes (so to speak) higher so that you can well see what the issues are. I mean, is Bill even the same person he was 150 years ago, since back then he was a person and now he’s a vampire? Does killing him now achieve justice?
I’d like a show that grappled with that a little.
I mean, it goes back to what I said a couple of weeks ago, when I noted that, if the Louisiana of the show is even remotely comparable to the Louisiana of real life, Bill is lying about how few slaves his father owned (just based on the size of the house), and lying about knowing the field slave better than the house slave (whose name he claimed to not even remember).
But the show is too stupid, sadly, to know that Bill is lying.
And it’s frustrating to me because it’s not hard to imagine a show smart enough to get that.
One thought here, not based on the show (which I don’t watch): I do think it’s possible for a former slaveowner or Nazi or whatever to become a good person, but not without confronting the evil that s/he has done and atoning for it. And, as you know, atonement for a sin against others must include making restitution to them (or their descendants or whatever). And this tends to be fairly public and out there if the sin has been public and out there along the lines of owning people as chattel or attempted genocide. And while it’s rare, it has demonstrably happened in individual cases. So, is this vampire a civil rights activist? Because I would accept that as proof that he had atoned. And then he could go on with being a good person.
Well, we learned this week that he did once sleep with a black woman…
But see, for me, your comment only further crystallizes for me that there’s a lot of good meat here that a talented writer could chew on, stuff I would find compelling as a viewer because I myself feel conflicted and unsure about it.
The gay/vampire gimmick kinda overshadows all this ‘subtext”.
Its obvious, though still kinda funny.
I’m reading the books now, and I am not shocked at all to find that Magic Negro Tara is (so far) wholly an invention of the show. (*I finished the first book and am 2 chapters into the second. They’ve mentioned only that LaFayette has ‘a cousin’ but nothing else has been said to indicate Tara’s existence.)
That being said I felt all through the series that Tara was very much a Neominstral Black character. It bugged the crapcracker out of me. They had her acting in all of these ways that sounded like what a white person would think would be funny coming out of a black person’s mouth. (That prolly makes no sense…) It felt very tacked on.
So far in the books there have only been two black characters mentioned–LaFayette and Kenya the police officer. Sookie’s interactions are all with white people. Which doesn’t bug me as much as the show. Because my experience with small southern towns is that there are plenty of black and plenty of white people. They either mix well or don’t mix at all. The Token Black People For Comic Sassiness that the show has going on seems much more false to me than Sookie only interacting with white people. IN fact the book actually talks about that being something she notices about their small town–that the whites and blacks DON’T generally interact. So I give Charlaine Harris at least props for not inventing the annoyance that is Tara.