Here’s something I’ve always wondered. You’re going to laugh, because pretty much everybody does, but I’m totally serious.
So you’re a Sookie, or a Buffy or an Elena, and Bill/Eric/Damon/Stefan/Dracula/Angel is staring out at you with his deep, soulful eyes, his hundreds of years old dick straining in his just-this-side-of-unfashionable jeans. You’re overcome by the scent of jasmine in the air. The stars are twinkling in the surprisingly free of smog night, he takes you into his arms, you kiss and — what?
First: Isn’t he really fucking cold?
Second: What about the smell?
I admit, I haven’t spent a considerable amount of time around the dead, so I have no frame of reference, but come on. You can’t watch a single episode of CSI: Whatever without getting an eyeful of David Caruso making a face and plugging his nose. Decomp happens pretty quick, I would imagine, and even if all your internal organs stop working (speaking of — penii need serious blood flow to get hard. Is that typically why they like a little suck and nibble before going at it? The blood has to flow from somewhere, right?), does undeath cause your body to freeze in some sort of stasis? Excuse me for the crassness of this subject matter, but I’m genuinely curious.
Last night, as we are wont to do on our summertime Sundays, my sister and I sat around the ol’ idiot box to take in the penultimate episode of the sixth season of True Blood. There are other authors out there that can blog about it better than me, but that’s not what I’m interested in. What I really want to talk about is character motivation, if that’s even a thing that can be considered at this late date.
It basically boils down to this: When the series started, six long summers ago, we were introduced to the world of Bon Temps, where vamps had been “Out of the Coffin” for two years and attempting to integrate into polite society. Fine. A different spin on an old classic. Our plucky telepath heroine Sookie Stackhouse, she of the “town freak” moniker and perky blonde ponytail immediately imprinted on shady, Southern-accent-impaired Vampire!Bill and thus spawned a love story that spanned almost four seasons and roughly twenty-five minutes in show years, max. (I kid because I love, True Blood! You know, sort of.) After Vampire!Bill, there’s “dumb!Eric”, as my friend Nikki calls him, a drunken, almost!tryst with the extremely wooden (in more ways than one. Am I right, ladies?) Alcide, and currently, the handsome, properly accented, a billion and half year old, stalkery!Warlow. Macklin Warlow, actually, not that his first name is really divulged anywhere but on imDb.
The question, for me, is not, what’s the point? Because clearly, the point is that it’s a soapy, vampire drama with sexy leads and smoldering Swedes. The point is pure fun and campy entertainment. You can’t be a religious viewer of this show without getting your rocks off at least a little bit at Sarah Newlin bashing someone’s brain in with their own stiletto and proclaiming thanks to The Big Guy afterward. It’s a popcorn show, and a popcorn genre on a network that built itself around the idea that audacity is what sells. Clearly, they were not incorrect.
Putting Sookie aside for a moment, let’s talk about another tiny, blonde drink of water. Buffy Summers and the titularly titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer was definitely my first taste of the vampire genre. I missed the Ann Rice craze, and though I’ve seen Interview, it was a long time ago, and I found Kirsten Dunst’s Claudia much more compelling than Lestat. I saw the Christy Swanson version first, I’m not sure how, because I was 5 in ‘92, but we had a poster from the movie up in our laundry room for years, and I rented it at least twelve times during the summer I was 9. What can I say? I was a fan of Luke Perry, even though he whisper-speaks through almost every role I’ve been fortunate enough to witness him in, and has not aged particularly well.
Buffy was a turning point for me, televisionally. It was scarier than what I watched on a regular basis, but Buffy was just like me. Or at least the me I wanted to be. She was smart, and she was strong, and she was a cheerleader (!), sort of. She had a gang of scoobies, and a cool library to hang out in, and sometimes, she even got to wear cute, 90s halter tops. As a vampire slayer, she dealt with death on a regular basis. She knew the perils of getting involved, saw what it could do to her nearest and dearest (to this day, remembering Angel’s transformation into the soulless Angelus knocks me a little flat), and yet still, she held a torch. She fucked with Spike. She — well. The less the UPN years of the show are discussed, the better.
Why would an otherwise intelligent girl get involved with a murderous bloodsucker? Sookie’s and Buffy’s trajectories are different, of course. Sookie is older. Vampires are known entity in the world of True Blood, but the fact remains that will all the knowledge and brains they possess, they still forge forward into the world of vampire lovin’ and don’t look back.
…or do they? At the start of season six [spoiler], when Eric grants Sookie ownership of her house, she banishes him to the only storyline of season that held any interest whatsoever. (I go where Pam goes. Sorry, internet.) She wants to get her life back together. She wants to be that girl in the white dress again. Points for imagery, but the less we have to remember her pajama gown from season one, the better. She doesn’t do that, though. After a series of worse and worse decisions (except that fuck off speech to her parents’ graves a few weeks ago. That was Anna Paquin at her melodramatic, monologue-y best, and should garner some sort of nomination, because she was transcendent), she eventually decides to tie herself to Mr. MW forever, and that’s that. (Obviously, it’s not what’s what. This is True Blood. I’m still expecting Nan Flanagan to make another appearance.) [end spoiler]
Buffy sends Angel to a 5 year deal on what eventually became a rival network, but she still yearns for him. Even Elena eventually picks a vamp, although season one!Matt remains one of my favorite television portrayals of a jilted ex-boyfriend.
I was just talking to some folks about How We View Television. A lofty goal, I know, but also something I’m genuinely interested in. At first glance, the relationship between Logan and Veronica on Veronica Mars was a startling one. Their chemistry was so off the charts that seeing them on screen was almost watching a car-wreck in progress. I got completely caught up in it at the time, and in later seasons, when obstacles were thrown in their path, I continued to support them. Logan and Veronica 5eva! It was me with that giant neon sign, I admit it.
It’s been years since that show was canceled, but with the movie coming out, and all the new speculation about the characters since the finale, I’ve been forced to reconsider my previous position. Veronica’s a smart girl on a difficult path. Do we really want her with the manic depressive, abused and abusive guy that’s made the last year of her life hell? Shouldn’t Piz, a guy that’s maybe boring but who’ll never publically humiliate her, be a better fit? Why is it that we’re so willing to condemn our heroines to choosing the least suitable guy because that’s what her heart is telling her today?
I don’t have the answers, but I thought the questions were a step in the right direction. If Sookie or Buffy or Veronica were my friends, I would tell them to steer clear of the famous, the dead or the shape shifting. Find a nice guy, ladies! One that doesn’t want to suck your fairy blood or take nudie shots of your boobs. It’s not a mandate, but it is a suggestion.