Friday, October 17, 2008

When secondary characters take over

Public Service Anouncement: there will be spoilers… so if you’re behind in watching Tru Blood, don’t read on.

I’m thinking right now of Tru Blood, a show I was iffy on to start with and have since come to really, really like. I wasn’t sure until a couple of episodes what the turning point was, but now I’m pretty sure.

It’s every character except for Sookie and Vamp Bill.

But it’s mostly Sookie’s best friend Tara, Sookie’s brother Jason and Tara’s cousin Lafayette. They all came off, initially, as bad sterotypes, but in the last few episodes I’ve come to love them.
Tara is my favourite, a large part due to the wonderfully appealing actress who plays her. In the first episode she seemed to be the loud mouthed, over bearing friend stereotype, but now, her backstory is tragic, and drives her bad decisions, but we understand the decisions she makes, good and bad. I even understand why she loves Jason and how that fact embarrasses her. And she is still overbearing, loud mouthed and rude and compelling like no one’s business.

The second reason is Sookie’s brother, Jason, who has been thrown into situations that are pretty unbelievable, but I still find him fascinating to watch. His decisions are unilaterally awful, he can be a total asshole, but again, they show us these cracks in his façade, where he becomes really appealing. The ending of this week’s episode where he’s crying during sex, because he just realized he’d lost everything.. so good.

And then there’s Sookie, who as the main heroine of the show, is burdened by having to make all the right decisions and be likeable and right and just and friendly to vampires and really tiresome to me. Although the scene of her eating the pie this week killed me.
But her relationship with Vamp Bill just hasn’t rang true for me, or really pulled me in.

It’s a case of the ensemble cast been given the best and worst traits, the most human characteristics and then running away with the show.


Molly O'Keefe said...

Secondary characters are such a tricky thing -- all the Anne Stuart historicals on my keeper shelf are there in large part because of the secondary characters -- who said that your secondary characters are the vehicle for your theme? Someone, probably you Sinead, but because they get less face time thier arcs and scenes are really focused and clear cut and can border on some melodrama -- ie the character crying while having sex. Basically they get all the fun and none of the hard work of the main characters.

Californication is coming around for me because of the secondary characters right now. Agent and agent's wife -- "Cokey Smurf" as Hank called her last week - hilarious.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great analysis, Sinead. I think that show proves how tricky it is to do good romance via TV or movies. I haven't read Charlaine Harris, but I'll bet in her books it's easier to understand why Sookie's so attracted to Bill and vice versa.

But because it was so instant in the series, so love-at-first sight, we don't really buy it, or at least aren't moved by it.

But the secondary characters are fabulous. I'm loving the boss who just might be a dog character, too. I was CONVINCED after the first episode that he WAS that stray dog... but then they showed him and the dog in a scene together. So loving that little mystery and his cuddly, love-lorn character.

BTW. I saw the actress who plays Tara in a small Canadian film the other week. How She Move. The film was promoted as staring Tre Armstrong, who's one of the judges on SYTYCD Canada, but it really stars the girl who plays Tara. (Guess I could look up her name, but too lazy.)
She plays a smart, ambitious girl who has to drop out of her expensive private school and return to her Jane&Finch high school when her mom spends all the family money on her now-dead, older sister's failed rehab. And of course, she bonds with everyone, gets the cute guy, and wins the money to go back to private school via a dance competition. (It is an urban dance movie. LOL)
And Molly... so right. The only way they can keep Californication interesting this season is to transfer all the focus onto the agent and Cokey Smurf. I keep wanting the evil girl who stole Hank's book to get her comeuppance, too... and maybe her slutty agent.

Tracy Belsher said...

Wonderful take on the show - I've only read the first book in the Sookie series and in it the secondary characters were not as in your face. The story is told in first person, Sookie's POV - very difficult to get into the other characters heads (although Sookie actually I, too am loving the show's subplot for Tara and the others. Those characters just shine.

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