So! It’s time to look at the No Trope Bingo cards and this season of True Blood. It’s… shocking, to say the least. Almost as if Brian Buckner et al actually sat down with these cards and went “how much can we fit in?”
R1C1, Bechdel fail: the first few episodes of the season passed the Bechdel test pretty well. Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) talking to Adilyn (Bailey Noble), Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) talking to Lettie Mae (Adina Porter), etcetera. But… then that devolved. Almost every conversation Sookie (Anna Paquin) had with another woman exclusively was about Alcide (Joe Manganiello) or Bill (Stephen Moyer), suddenly Jess’ conversations fell into the same trap, etcetera. The last episode did pass thanks to a scene between Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp), but.
R1C2, disregarded logic: otherwise known as everything. But this is a good place to bring up the most glaring continuity error: in episode nine of this season, Jessica asked Bill to release her, but… Bill had actually already released her. In season three, episode eight, “Night on the Sun.” I’d actually recently looked this up just for other reasons and when this took place I twitched so much, then looked it up again just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
R1C3, underused/invisible POC: well, they killed Tara (Rutina Wesley) off in the first five minutes of the season. For some reason they spent more time with Lettie Mae than they have in the entire rest of the show, and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) did get dragged into that as well as have a… horrible bisexual love triangle, but he wasn’t hardly in the last few episodes. All Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) did was get kidnapped and talk about being pregnant/having a baby.
R1C4, dead family manpain: primarily fulfilled by Bill’s ridiculously tedious flashbacks to the Civil War.
R1C5, invisible lesbians: or bi girls, or girls who are some stripe of queer. Well, they killed Tara off in the first five minutes. (They’d effectively nullified her relationship with Pam, and this also ended any potential for a relationship with Willa that was totally there, I mean seriously, just look at Willa’s face when she was talking about Tara. Love comes in at the eyes.) And while Pam had some lines about being queer, the closest she got to acting on it was expressing her initial approval of Amber (Natalie Hall). Also I read an interview with Bailey Noble where she said something along the lines of “well, Adilyn was originally supposed to be a lesbian, I don’t know what happened to that idea. (nervous laughter)” It all adds up.
R2C1, vicious female rivalry: a little bit Amber and Sarah (though that was with reason), primarily fulfilled by Violet (Karolina Wydra) and Jessica.
R2C2, ho-yay: primarily fulfilled by Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and his completely pointless, gratuitous sex dream about Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) at the beginning of the season (despite the fact that it had been at least six months since Jason had Eric’s blood and in the past that particular effect of vampire blood had never lasted that long).
R2C3, infectious diseases: was the hep V the Big Bad of the season? I just don’t know. It was certainly the Big Pain in the Ass.
R2C5, dead little girls: mostly just in reference to that element of Adilyn and Andy’s (Chris Bauer) previous season’s experiences.
R3C1, sexualized violence: I am still so furious about the scenes in Violet’s sex dungeon oh my goodness.
R3C5, fridging: they killed Tara off in the first five minutes.
R4C1, gratuitous sex: Jason and Violet banging on the cop car. Jason and Eric banging in his ho-yay dream. Eric and his French girl banging in the flashbacks. Jason and Jessica banging at Sookie’s party that she didn’t want to have (which could have turned out to not be gratuitous, but given the way the plot dramatically switched after that it was). Violet blowing Jason in their house. Bill and Sookie’s sex scene that lasted just way too long. Jessica and Hoyt’s (Jim Parrack) sex scene that lasted just way too long. Etcetera.
R4C2, inappropriate male attention: in addition to the sketch attention that Sookie gets from strange male vampires always, I just marked this off because Bill’s attention always feels inappropriate.
R4C4, infidelity: James (Nathan Parsons) with Lafayette cheating on Jessica. Jason with Jessica cheating on Violet. Hoyt with Jessica cheating on Bridget (who’s not listed on imdb, and I don’t want to go searching through articles that are just going to make me sad to find the actress’ name).
R5C1, conscious irresponsibility: I also mark this square off just because Bill. He’s willing to say to Sookie, “I hurt you,” but he doesn’t ever actually say what else he’s done wrong. Allegedly he wrote a book, and other characters mention things from it, but it seems mostly to exist as a way for characters to know things that happened previously in canon that they weren’t present for.
R5C2, narrative neglect: THEY KILLED TARA OFF IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES. Also, once the plotlines they’d been dragged into wrapped up, any notable number of characters just… weren’t present anymore, or were only present in a sideline/background context, despite there being every reason for them to be (the most obvious victim of this is Willa, who was only in about half of the episodes this season; this also happened to Lafayette and James, somewhat to Adilyn and her stepbrother-boyfriend [confession: my DVR’d recording cut off after a proper hour of programming, shortly after Nicole and Sam’s [[Sam Trammell]] daughter disembarked from their van, so if anything happened after that I don’t know and I don’t care enough to go looking]).
R5C4, narratively excused sociopathy: another one I mark off largely just because Bill, honestly.
R5C5, love triangles: AHAHAHAHA. Alcide-Sookie-Bill. There’s the everpresent tease of Eric-Sookie-Bill. Jessica-James-Lafayette (which is my least favorite of them, because honestly, throwing the bisexual guy into the love triangle is actually the worst). Violet-Jason-Jessica. Jason-Jessica-Hoyt(-Bridget who then – back to Jason).
R1C2, narratively excused intolerance: well, there’s plenty of narratively discussed intolerance, but also… not. The whole thing with the fellowly WOC townswoman goading Kenya (Tanya Wright) into doing violence against supernaturals by saying that Sheriff Andy disrespects her for being a black woman didn’t sit well with me, because the handling made it feel like it was trivializing the issue of such biases, for example.
R1C3, lack of POC: again, killing Tara off is a big part of it.
R1C4, general male brooding: see also, Bill Compton.
R1C5, lack of queer people: again, killing Tara off is a big part of it.
R2C1, narratively enforced gender policing: primarily fulfilled by the ways that Violet taunted Jason about how in her (vaguely historical) time men were men, men didn’t feel things, he was being too soft.
R2C2, compulsive heteroeroticism: see also, the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies. Somehow a vampire drama turned into my Facebook newsfeed.
R2C3, crazy inbred hillbillies: well, not hillbillies, but definitely bigoted townsfolk were the little-bads for a couple of episodes.
R2C4, slut shaming: primarily fulfilled by comments thought about Sookie by townsfolk and said about Adilyn by Holly (Lauren Bowles) (who then did apologize, but still).
R2C5, children as plot devices: primarily fulfilled by Nicole and Sam’s unborn baby and then by… the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies.
R3C1, police brutality: primarily fulfilled by the aforementioned instance of Kenya being swayed to the dark side of bigoted townsolk.
R3C2, love interest syndrome: poor Sookie, the protagonist of the show, was narratively treated as little more than who she was banging.
R4C2, excused unwanted overtures: also marked mainly because Bill.
R4C3, forgive your abusers: Sookie and also Jessica re: Bill. The entire plotline with Lettie Mae and Tara’s “ghost” (which, are you kidding me, seriously, no that is not the thing). Etcetera.
R4C4, compulsive motherhood: the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies.
R4C5, “don’t do the brave thing”: somewhat Alcide re: Sookie. Somewhat Nicole re: Sam.
R5C1, (evil) white guy redemption arc: see also, Bill Compton.
R5C2, narrative double standard: there are also ways to apply this to Bill Compton, I’m sure. And so many other things. I’m too tired to get into it.
R5C3, women as plot devices: Nicole. Adilyn. Amber Mills. Poor dead Tara.
There were 6/24 squares free on each card. So 3/4 of each card was filled. Seven bingos were achieved.
–your fangirl heroine.