We’ve often focused on the men of True Blood, and for good reason—an inability to wear shirts, serious sexual charisma, and many, many abs. But what about the ladies? So we thought we’d represent them as well, and do a H & H Throwdown on which True Blood woman you like the best. First we had vampire Pam pitted against faery Sookie. Now we’ve got Merlotte’s waitresses Tara and Arlene in the ring. Let us know in comments which is your favorite, and that winner will go against the winner of the next round.
If you like a girl with poor taste in men, bad attitudes, and mommy issues, then Tara Thornton is your girl. In the last three seasons, we found her in more horrible situations than any other character—at least that’s what it felt like. But this season, the True Blood gurus are giving her some resilience. Viewers are seeing what seems to be a stronger, less victim-y woman who knows how to protect herself from the creatures that walk in the night, and sometimes the day.My favorite Season 4 scene so far, one that epitomizes a Tara that won’t take anyone’s Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea (the acronym anyway), is when Tara defends Lafayette against Pam, like a lioness protecting her young. She seems more willing to accept responsibility for her life and is determined to make something of it—in a cage fighter kind of way.
Tara’s come a long way from someone that we almost didn’t want to see anymore, ever, during the middle of season three. The overall concensus (okay, what I read on two blogs and heard on a radio show) is that the New Tara is a winner. We want to keep her this way, and we are praying that crying, whining, weaker Tara is gone for effin’ good! Maybe she’s a lot happier because she came out of the closet… hmmmm. Girl power!
I’m not here to talk about Book Arlene. Book Arlene is an evil, evil bitch. I’m here to talk about TV Arlene.
And TV Arlene is awesome.
Maybe it’s my redneck heritage, but Arlene speaks to me on a deep and personal level. I’ve known Arlenes all my life: Hard-working, good-hearted women who were dealt a crappy hand at birth and have played it best they can.
They don’t always make the best decisions, but there’s never anyone around to save them from the consequences of those decisions, so they become tough, resilient and resourceful. The Arlenes of the world have to be their own safety nets.
I figure her daddy was a drunk, if she had a daddy at all. Her mama did the best she could, but that wasn’t much. Arlene was on her own at an early age—probably sixteen or seventeen. The kids came soon after. I’m sure she was convinced that their daddy was The One. He wasn’t—but Arlene didn’t give up. Every time she falls in love, she’s sure it’s The One. (“I know I’ve done it four other times, but it never gets old.”)
Everything Arlene has, she worked for—hard. And she does it all for her kids. Any single mother who’s ever had to worry about dating another loser (“I’m sorry you fell in love with a serial killer, alright, but honestly, who here hasn’t?”), getting time for herself (“Everytime I get a night off my babysitter falls through on me”), or telling the boss she was late because of a family emergency (“Lisa decided to give Coby a nose piercing like she saw on America’s Next Top Model and now he’s got an infection.”) knows Arlene’s life.
A lot of women would be left bitter and man-hating after finding out their fiancé was a serial killer. Not Arlene—Rene hurt her, but he didn’t harden her. She still had the presence of heart to recognize the worth of Terry Bellefleur.
And if she’s not quite as sophisticated and tolerant about vampires as her economic betters (“No, darlin’. We’re white. He’s dead.”) —well, who could blame her? Just look at what Russell Edgerton did to that poor newscaster! Yeah, Eric and Bill are sexy—when they want to be. How comfortable would you feel having sex with a guy who could exsanguinate you in seconds? The only thing holding him back is, what—his better nature? No. I don’t think sex with vampires is an evolutionarily useful trait.
(Werewolves, on the other hand, are part-time humans. They’re mortal, warm and cuddly, and they can cook you breakfast and take you to the beach.)
Sookie runs around in real and constant danger, but you know that on some level she likes it that way, else why wouldn’t she just get up and move someplace where the vamps and shifters and fairies can’t find her? Because she digs the drama, that’s why.
Jessica struggles with vampire monogamy and the pain of losing her virginity every time she has sex, but she’s young and hot and has hundreds of years in front of her to do whatever she wants.
Tara’s had a hard life—as hard as Arlene’s, I suppose. But Tara is younger and hotter and unencumbered and can pretty much kick anything’s ass, up to and including vampires if she’s pissed off enough.
Pam’s a glamorous vampire and Portia’s a glamorous lawyer.
Arlene? Arlene’s a waitress with three kids, one of whom might be possessed, and a husband who loves her dearly, but has some issues. Arlene gets to experience all the danger and trauma of life in Bon Temps without the mind blowing sex or supernatural gifts. She’s never even gotten to see Alcide with his clothes off.
It would be easy to laugh at Arlene’s taste in men, or clothes, or hair color, or her grammar or her parochial view of non-human sentient beings. Come on, admit it—it’s easy to laugh at people who are different than us, as long as they’re of the same color and culture. Then it’s not bigotry, right? Then you’re just laughing at someone who’s poorer or tackier than you. If it wasn’t easy and fun, no one would visit www.peopleofwalmart.com.
But don’t laugh at Arlene. Instead, ask yourself: if you had an emergency and needed to drop your kid off at someone’s house, who would you call?
Sookie? No. Sookie’s either screwing a vampire, or running away from a vampire, or looking for a vampire or driving to Mississippi to make googly eyes at Alcide.
Tara doesn’t do children.
Pam eats children.
Portia Bellefleur? Girl, please. You’ve lived your whole life in Bon Temps and Portia still doesn’t know your name because you are Not Her Kind. (Rather high and mighty for someone who’s banging her own great great great granddaddy, isn’t she? I know what the hottest topic at the next chapter meeting of Daughters of the Confederacy is likely to be…)
No, you call Arlene. And what does Arlene say?
“Oh, honey, of course I’ll watch her! We got a pizza in the oven and Lisa and Coby made chocolate chip cookies yesterday. Just come on over.”
Really? Are you sure? I don’t know how long I’ll be, it might be overnight—-
“That don’t matter! We’ll make pallets in the livin’ room and the kids can camp out. Terry? TERRY! Kinsey’s mama’s in the hospital and she needs someone to watch the Diva. Run down to Blockbuster and get some movies for the kids, okay? Thanks, baby. Now, Kinsey, listen to me, just drop her off and don’t worry about it. And tell your mama we’re prayin’ for her, kay?”
Thank you, Arlene.
Aliza Mann, Paraplayground.com
Kinsey Holley writes about werewolves. She and her husband have college degrees. But he owns a lot of guns, and she’s been known to let the kids strip down to their underwear and play in the hose.