Is True Blood overdoing it on the gay storylines?

True Blood lips

For those of you who’ve been watching season 3 of [[True Blood (TV Series)|True Blood]], you’ll know that there’ve been a stack of gay sex scenes between various characters.

Early on in the series, Sam Merlotte had a freaky dream that he had been summoned and seduced by Bill Compton. Sam had done a blood exchange with Bill during the events of the second season finale to defeat a psychotic supernatural. The blood sharing started a bond between the two, and Sam found himself fantasising about gettin’ down doggie style with Vampire Bill. (That was a shapeshifter joke, by the way)

We’ve also seen the extremist vampire Russell Edgington at home with his lover, Talbot. And of course, in Talbot’s final scene, he was having sex with Eric, just as Eric plunged a stake into him from behind. Again, not a metaphor. The vampire queen of Louisiana, Sophie Anne Leclerq, has a female lover, Hadley, and the vampire rights lobbyist Nan Flanagan was seen enjoying some blood from the femoral artery of a particularly captivating human girl. Eric’s right-hand vamp, Pam, is also a known lesbian. Phew.

And we’re not totally done yet. Merlotte’s resident fry cook slash drug dealer Lafayette Reynolds has embarked on his first romantic relationship with an Hispanic guy called Jesus. This has been a much more organic relationship than the vampire ones which are pure lust. The couple seem to have a cute dynamic in places, and having someone else as a partner has brought out Lafayette’s vulnerable side.

But is it too gay?

The show’s creator, Alan Ball, is openly gay. The pitfall of the gay showrunner is that they’re forever accused of forwarding a “gay agenda” in their shows. [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] fans will have seen the same accusations levelled at former show boss Russell T Davies, who introduced Captain Jack Harkness, the first gay/bisexual character in the show (though he described himself as omnisexual).

As a heterosexual male, naturally I have no trouble with the lesbian elements. I almost think they’re written for my demographic anyway, so I can handle that! I’ll admit though, to being a tad uncomfortable with the intimate scenes between the male characters – partially because we don’t see those on TV…ever. (Remember the Modern Family scandal that the two gay characters never kissed?)

But then, the treatment of the gay relationships is quite interesting too. Russell and Talbot had an ‘old married couple’ dynamic, where Talbot all but took the role of the submissive housewife, constantly fretting about his decor. In many ways, it turned the traditional notion of the nuclear family’s mom and pop on its head. Talbot was funny, but clearly doted on his ‘husband’, while Russell’s insane grief is testament to his feelings for Talbot.

And as I said before, the scenes between Lafayette and Jesus are often very touching and warm. We don’t often see that kind of normal relationship between gay characters on television, and I welcome it as part of a normalising process. You can say what you like about gay agendas, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing gay culture into the mainstream and letting people realise it’s not scary! Isn’t that what True Blood’s really about?

Comments on Zap2It

The television website Zap2It posed the same question, and received a wide variety of responses from readers – some who claim that you can’t be a proper True Blood fan and a homophobe at the same time, others who feel that they like the show, but would prefer less homosexual content. It’s clearly a delicate balance. Here are a couple of sample comments:

I like the show the way it is and personally Alan has to just make sure he can give us another great finale and I am sure any folks who are uncomfortable about the gay characters will overlook the “discomfort.” Does this mean I am pro-gay-marriage? No, I am not. But does this make me ‘homophobic’ or bigoted? No I am not. Am I a big fan of TB? One of the biggest.

And…

I think that if someone is anti-gay, they shouldn’t have the audacity to complain about ‘True Blood.’ It’s a fantastic show, NOT intended to be exactly like the books (that would be boring) and if people are uncomfortable with what’s covered in the show, they should stop watching.

So what’s your take, readers? Is there too much gay content, or do you think it’s perfectly acceptable given the context of the show? Over to you…

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