Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!


No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A True Blood Season 5 Retrospective: Turn! Turn! Turn! Part I

Greetings and Happy New Year! 2012 was challenging for us to say the least, and last year's roller coaster ride of ups and downs resulted in very little time put in at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern. For that, your salonnières offer a public mea maxima culpa; or in plain 'ol English, my bad!

In 2013 we intend to keep the metaphorical drinks flowing here, and what better way to start than to put the time we've had to reflect on Season 5 of True Blood in its entirety to good use?

While it certainly was never our intention to go a whole season without offering commentary, I must admit that watching S5 straight through gave us quite a different vantage point from which to view the show than during seasons past when we posted on each discrete episode. This past year, we were able to take in True Blood from a more holistic perspective, noticing themes that stretched across and unified the arc of the season that perhaps we wouldn't have had we been commenting on each episode right after it aired.

So, in the spirit of a retrospective we'd like to offer some of our thoughts on Season 5 and its greatest hits, misses, and the overarching themes we noticed, starting with Episode 1, Turn! Turn! Turn!

During this premiere episode, our favorite Bon Temps denizens seemed to be adjusting to some new realities. And, as the Biblical verse this title is drawn from suggests, there is a time and a place for everything. Here's a bit of a recap:

Bill and Eric were coping rather differently to Sookie's rejection...

(while on hands and knees scrubbing Nan Flanagan's splattered remains off King Bill's office floor)

....looking up, intensely concerned in response to what he senses as Sookie's distress at Tara's shooting, Bill exclaims, "Sookie!"

Eric: "Fuck Sookie...Did you not hear her tonight? She rejected us both".

Lafayatte and Sookie are facing the possibility of losing Tara, as she lies lifeless in a pool of blood on Sookie's kitchen floor, having taken a bullet for Sookie at Debbie Pelt's hands. Now, remember, Lafayette had just lost Jesus - having stabbed him to death while possessed by Marnie's spirit the day before.

Unable to face the prospect of losing another dear one, Lafayette begs Pam, who had just happened by since she was apparently making the rounds of anywhere Eric might be desperately looking for him since their falling out, to "turn" Tara for them.

Pam: "Turn her, I don't even like her!"

Sookie is incredulous, and at first can't accept this as the right course of action.

Lafayette: "Bitch, she took a bullet for you, you gonna deny her another chance?"

Pam begins to see how this proposition may work in her favor, and bargains with Sookie for her to use her "magic hands or super snatch" (interesting way to ascribe Sookie's value to isolated functional/sexual body parts!) to "fix what's broken" between she and her maker.

Sookie agrees to owe Pam one, thus putting in motion a series of events that will ultimately lead to a very different reality for Tara, one not of her own choosing but which she must deal with the fallout of.

Here, we see the emergence of a theme of Season 5: CHOICES

Meanwhile, outside Jason's house, Reverend Newlin has made his reappearance and is dealing with some dramatically different realities of his own!

Steve: "I woke up in a hole in the ground with a strange women who didn't tell me anything...didn't even give me her name".

You guessed it folks, Steve came back a vamp, without his followers, who he now characterizes as "People I trained to kill folks like me", his maker, or even his wife Sarah to turn to for support, reassurance, or guidance.

Now, only in his transformed state, can Steve Newlin admit...

Steve: "I'm a gay vampire American...and I love you Jason Stackhouse".

Steve does imply, somewhat disturbingly, that his repressed homosexuality and unrequited longing for Jason is what led him to act "all murderous and whatnot". Let's think about this for a second. We know that one of the criticisms leveled at the show is that if the vampire rights movement is an allegory for the gay rights movement (a far too reductionist analysis of the show IMHO), then by framing vampires as stand-ins for the LBGT community, True Blood is essentially saying that LGBT folks are violent, antisocial monsters. Can we simply construe Steve's admission as a device, albeit taken to the extreme, for exploring the destructive effects of denying one's sexuality and identity? Or can his declaration be seen as fuel for the aforementioned critique? I hope some of you out there will weigh in on this!   

Jason, bewildered and naked except for the blanket Steve strategically draped over him while he was still glamoured, had quite a different response than one might expect from a typical, heterosexual "vain-ass, body-conscious ex-jock" (Tara's characterization of him in S1 during the infamous priapism scene): "First off, I'm flattered, that was without a doubt the nicest 'I love you' I've ever gotten from anyone, male, female, or otherwise".

Steve looks pleased at first but can't take it when Jason let's him know, "this dog...just don't bark that way".

Right before Steve, in a fit of exasperation, frustration, rage, and lust, sinks his fangs into an unwilling ans struggling Jason, Jessica bursts through the door and with an unmistakable air of new found confidence and comfort in her own skin as both woman and vampire, declares herself the older (and therefore more powerful) vampire, and utters those potent words, "Jason is mine". With his invitation swiftly revoked, Steve is run off. But not before he can get in one more, "I love you" before he's sucked out the door.

Her self-assurance and confident sexuality palpable, Jessica initiates sex with the still bound and naked Jason...only now, he's much more willing.

And that's not even the halfway mark of the episode!

Over the course of Turn! Turn! Turn!, we are confronted with a host of other new realities,  as well as issues and themes that prove to be recurring throughout S5, from the political factions and hierarchies of the werewolf pack and vampire authority, self-sacrifice in the persons of Sam Merlotte and vampires Nora and Eric...and Pam ;) to the sexual politics of hook-ups between so-called vampire siblings and waitress-sheriff couplings, choices involving when to pull the trigger and when to lie, whether or not to let your past into your present (if it can be held at bay), and how one's past influences the person one is today.

We have entree to the very real issues of wartime trauma and recovery which couldn't be more timely as veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict are arriving home in greater numbers in the story arc of Terry, Patrick, and Arlene that launches during this episode.

And, in Lafayette, we are faced with the heaviness of grief and regret in a way that is startlingly true-to-life, human, and so very relatable.

We've also got the very human desires to be liked and accepted playing out in the friendship-kinship-belonging plot lines that touch many characters as part of this episode.

This leads us to the question, "can men and women ever just be friends", or perhaps, "can men and women's relationships ever NOT be sexualized" that reverberates across a few story arcs this season, beginning in episode 1 with Jason and Jessica, Eric and Nora.

I'll be back in the next post to discuss some of my observations along those lines!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Checking Our Inventory & Restocking Our Shelves...

Getting ready for the True Blood season 5 premiere! New content coming soon!!!

Looks like Fangtasia and/or Merlottes is stocking up too...
...for more on that check out the Inside True Blood blog!

~ Rebecca & Rachel

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Very Special Birthday Mini Post

The PPT  would like to wish a very happy birthday to one of our own! It is my pleasure to wish my sister and fellow salonniere Rachel all the best today. If you happen to stumble upon this mini post be sure to leave some happy birthday wishes in the comments section below! Happy Birthday Rachel....this Tru Blood's for you :-) ~ Rebecca

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Resurrecting Steve Newlin's Argument That Because Vampires Don't Respect Death They Can't Respect Life

Here’s a provocative (perhaps overly) philosophical concept.

Remember how back in Season 2 Steve Newlin challenged Nan Flanagan on TV, baiting her with the logic that because vampires don’t respect death they also can’t respect life? He was essentially implying that their undying bodies are an affront to the endless cycle of death and rebirth―of course, his vision of rebirth being one awash in His Holy Light as the immortal soul splits from the body, leaving this mortal coil behind.

Pam’s decay, while utterly horrifying to her (and us!), can be seen as a return to the natural processes of birth, death, and renewal.

Our culture worships birth and its correlates youth and beauty, but it can’t acknowledge and uplift that single phase of life alone; we need the goddess of death to chew and destroy the unneeded so new forms can emerge.

I’ve spoken about the neglected value of the death aspect of the goddess before, i.e.  Who Is She Who Munches The Dead? and Pam's Taken The Veil.

Let’s think about the process of death and rebirth in cosmic terms. A fundamental truth, the most profound property of time, is that nothing lasts forever; this plays out on earth and in the depths of space. 

A supernova burns out to a nebula with a tiny point of light at its center―the remnants of a star crushed to oblivion by its own gravity. In the nebula― a gas cloud of elements―all the elements a star produced in its life and death is pumped out across the universe yielding greater complexity, the seeds of our own existence.
Orion nebula

But eventually, all life on this planet will cease to exist.

Decay, entropy, and disintegration will rule as the universe becomes less ordered. According to the 2nd law of thermodynamics― everything tends from more to less order.

Stars cannot shine forever.

In 6 billion years our sun will explode.

The cosmos will one day be plunged into eternal night when the stars fade and die―the end of the stelliferous era.

Only black dwarves―dark dense balls of decaying matter―will remain.

black dwarf

Then, only a sea of photons tending towards absolute zero.

Life only exists for a fleeting, bright time.

But in death to old forms once again comes the potential for new life.

Life is the cosmos made conscious, how the universe understands itself.What new life will emerge from the death of our universe?

A new big bang…

…come on, sing it with me

our whole universe was in a hot dense state…

As we've seen, True Blood alums can be reborn on CBS's The Big Bang Theory!
None of it’s possible without the old forms first passing away.

Now, we know vampires’ undead bodies are static and unchanging, seemingly closing them off from life's cycles.

But their minds and hearts, as we’ve seen over the course of four seasons of True Blood that that’s another story entirely.

What deaths and rebirths of the mind and heart can we expect from our undead friends in Season 5?

We’d love to hear your ideas!

~ Rachel

Sunday, September 25, 2011

ALL THAT & A VAMPIRE JUICE BOX!!! Our Season 4 finale party

Who needs the bag of chips when you've got an anatomically correct human organ as part of your fiesta...

Just for fun, I give you -



Held at my house, it was a kitchy Halloween-themed fête with a very different vibe than our much more formal True Blood Season 4 premiere party; which we have yet to share photos from!

Don't despair, they're coming...accompanied by some TB-derived viewpoints on being open or closed to the worlds and experiences of the Other..but that's for another post.

For now, you're welcome to step vicariously into our world of goofy finale party fun...but don't get too crazy, or your invitation may be revoked!!!

As you'll see, we take our feminist analysis of social issues in True Blood mighty seriously here at the PPT, but we also know how to cut loose and have a good time.  

Oh, and credit to Rebecca for supplying the vampire juice boxes; Eric would be so proud!

Eric's got his juice box... 

...and we've got ours!

the dessert spread, artfully staged

mmm...Halloween candy!!!

a taste of the Adirondacks...drink local, act global!

pumpkin spice brew masterfully poured into cinnamon and sugar-rimmed
Merlotte's pint glasses by bartender extraordinaire Rebecca!

Too bad you couldn't join us, maybe next time!

What did you do for the Season 4 finale? Anything that can trump our Eric-approved sippy cups? Please share below.

Yours in TB withdrawal...
~ Rachel    

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ginger and Pam & The Power of Female Friendship

The late radical feminist philosopher, academic and theologian Mary Daly espoused the controversial idea that women's primary loyalties should be to other women.

Seeing phallocracy as the root cause of "rapism, racism, gynocide, genocide, and ultimate biocide" (p. 203), she urged women to drop their ties to all patriarchally created groups and tribes, including ethnic, religious, and national identifications and to cleave to their bonds with each other.

Allowing that women (for example, slave-holding women) have often expressed unspeakable cruelty to each other, she understood this cruelty as a function of the patriarchal "soul molding sado-institutions" (p. 203) we are socialized into that enable our oppression of other women, that desensitize and dissociate "the woman who has 'power' from her more oppressed sister" (p. 202).

While Daly's view that women's primary loyalties should be to other women is disputed by other feminist thinkers who, while sharing Daly's commitment to women, also affirm other loyalties, her work does point to the importance of female relationships and friendships.

Although in her essay "Be-Friending: Weaving Contexts, Creating Atmospheres" Daly wrote, "I do not mean to suggest that every woman, or even every feminist, can 'be friend to' or 'be friends with' every other woman" (p. 199) she did envision, in stark contrast to the hair-pulling, eye-gouging state of perpetual and allegedly natural female rivalry hyped by reality TV, "the creation of an atmosphere in which women are enabled to be friends".

Imagine that.

Imagine that it might be possible for women whose existences couldn't seem more divergent from one another's to become friends.

Women like Ginger and Pam.

Oftentimes it seems that Ginger is Pam's only true friend in the world; and a dedicated friend she is.

In Pam's moment of anguish over the loss of Eric who is seemingly the single most significant figure in her life, it was Ginger who braved her wrath and offered her comfort.

And although Pam's cutting words and tone warned Ginger to back off, the vampire was in desperate need of the solace Ginger's simple embrace offered; the human woman remained steadfast and held her boss close despite her fear. Like the hug Holly asked for from Andy, it was just what Pam needed, and ultimately she realized this and accepted it.

Ginger has always been there for Pam; a woman who despite her extreme femininity could be characterized as an Athena woman - a woman born of man (she was made by Eric) who, like Joan of Arc, or Queen Elizabeth I seems "constitutionally born for a man's world" (Ward, 2006, p.127). An archetype described by Carl Jung as "a man who is accidentally a woman" (Ward, 2006, p. 127). Pam's sexual attraction to and preference for female partners does not necessarily translate into an appreciation of and desire for friendship and mutuality in platonic relationships with other women.

Is Ginger a participant of sorts in in what Daly saw as the process of Be-Friending; a metapatterning in personal relationships, in political activity, in a work or theory or art, in spiritual understanding, or all of the above that makes our friendships possible? That allows us to break through the rancor society fosters between us to invent new ways of living and being? That helps us accept our own femaleness?

Ward writes of the misogyny of Athena. Can Ginger's olive branch of friendship open the Athenian Pam to the power of female friendship?

I hope so.

~ Rachel  


Daly, M. (1989). "Be-Friending". In Plaskow, J. & Christ, C. (Eds.) Weaving the Visions. (pp. 199-207). San Francisco, CA: Harper.

Ward, T. (2006). Savage Breast. New York, NY: O Books. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Women Setting Boundaries in True Blood S4 Finale

WOW. I mean, really, WOW. There's so much that can be said about the unreal True Blood S4 finale that aired this past Sunday, "And When I Die".

Multiple viewings of it may in fact be truly hazardous to your health!

Case in point: I crashed at Rebecca's house on Tuesday night, and we decided to re-watch the episode together. Just as the opening credits began, our brother pulled into the driveway and we shot each other looks acknowledging the fact that as soon as he came in the door and realized we were watching it AGAIN, he might just kill us!

You see, Johnny's a fan of the show too, but for him watching each episode once is enough. And when he comes in from work, he likes to relax in front of the tube and decompress. So as the key turned in the door we braced ourselves and when we heard him in the hallway, we both grimaced and Rebecca almost timidly called out, "hey man" to test his mood. 

Luckily for us, his shift had been good and he was feeling benevolent. Striding up the stairs, he caught the strains of Bad Things rising and joked, "third time's the charm, huh?" before briefly taking inventory of the fridge and descending back down the stairs to his room.

Whew, close call. We were now free to watch "And When I Die" yet again, and although each of us had already seen it at least once (we viewed the finale together late Sunday night and Rebecca had re-watched the next day and taken notes), we were both still feeling the effects of the fangover and attempting the process the show's dizzying chain of events. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, so much happened during the finale that we could discuss here at the PPT. But since the Web has been abuzz for several days with recaps, reflections, and questions concerning the central action, I'd like to address a subtly nuanced theme of female empowerment nestled within the episode's dizzing action.  

Easy to overlook in light of the general craziness of the S4 finale, this theme is made evident in the pattern of several female characters drawing boundaries for themselves in their relationships that emerged during the course of the show, particularly in relation to Sookie, Jessica, Luna & Holly.

Rebecca and I started to flesh out our ideas on this topic on Tuesday night.

When the episode ended, we joked a little about how I had, in a moment of denial that the season had actually come to its conclusion on Sunday night, told her "no, we've got to see the coming attractions" when she lifted the remote to switch the station. Rebecca had astutely pointed out on Sunday that there would be no trailers for next week and that I'd have to face the fact that a sobering nine months of True Blood withdrawal stretched out like a barren wasteland before us.

Maybe a little over-dramatic, but true nonetheless.

So we laughed a little about that again, and Rebecca quickly turned our attention to an article she had read online that pointed out how, in her two-way break up with Eric and Bill, Sookie has actually chosen herself.

Although leaving without either of them in her life caused she and both her lovers great heartache, Sookie realized - perhaps due in part to the poignant words of her dearly departed Gran's spirit - that being alone is nothing to be afraid of.

And that maybe the best thing for her to do instead of trying to choose between Bill and Eric was to take some time to discover and get to know herself, outside of a relationship. Although shocked and deeply hurt, both vampires respected Sookie's wishes enough (at least for now) to let her go.

Similarly, during her sexy Halloween night tryst with Jason, Jessica verbalized her own sense that she is just barely getting to know herself.

Jessica is Rebecca's favorite female character for the reason that she feels the baby vamp displays the most real, believable [human] emotion. Sorry Sookie - Rebecca's words, not mine ;-) but I don't disagree.

Despite their strong mutual attraction and genuine caring towards one another, Jessica was brave and authentic enough to draw a mid-coitus line in the sand, telling Jason that she did not want to be his girlfriend. It's not that she doesn't want him; she's simply not ready to commit to him yet because she recognizes her inexperience in relationships and she doesn't want to hurt Jason the way Hoyt ended up hurt when they broke up.

In this scene, Jessica asserted herself as a sexual woman and vampire who is beginning to know what she wants and needs and isn't afraid to articulate that to the man in her life. And for his part, Jason was understanding and accepting of Jessica's reticence to jump into a committed relationship with him or to be intimate enough with him to drink his blood; as Jessica said, at least not yet.

Luna, too, put the breaks on a close encounter that could have heated up into quite the romantic night for she and Sam.

Not because she's not ready to stay the night with Sam or for them to be an official item (although that may well the be the case), but because she felt her baby girl Emma may not be. Luna and Sam both displayed the emotional maturity required to take their budding relationship slow; let's hope the snarling wolf that confronted Sam just as the van carrying Luna and Emma home drove up the Merlotte's driveway towards the parish road and out of view doesn't put the permanent brakes on this promising couple!

Last but not least, we've got fairy-costumed Holly, who, despite (or maybe because of) her mental and physical exhaustion brought on by the drama of the night had the gumption to tell it like it is to a persistent, Halloween bouquet-toting Andy Bellefleur.

Here's the dialogue courtesy of Television Without Pity

Andy: "Sorry about the last time, when I took your flowers."
Holly: "That's okay, you were nervous."
Andy: "No, I was a drug addict. V. thought I needed it to do the job, and to talk pretty ladies like you... So I didn't feel like a loser all the time. It worked for a while, then it didn't."
Holly, wearily: "Okay look, honey. You're really sweet and everything, but this is all just too much for me right now."
Andy: "It's no problem. Lot of baggage, I get it. I just wanted to say that I'm sober and I'm lonely. And I can be good to someone if they let me. 'Night."

After taking in and weighing what he had to say, Holly asked Sheriff Andy for a much-needed hug, which I think may have been balm for both their souls. I look forward to seeing what will come next for these two, and if the kind of "rigorous honesty" the tragically doomed Debbie Pelt had talked about having with Alcide might prevail for both of them; given their respective pasts (Holly as a survivor of sexual assault and Andy as a recovering addict) should they become involved.

Now, the above is not to suggest that self-actualization and being in relationship are mutually exclusive. In fact, as the introduction to the section on self-in-relation in the book Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality asserts, the idea of self as relational is prominent in feminist thinking.

The concept of the relational self has not caught on in the traditions of dominant Euro-Western philosophy and theology in which Descartes's' vision of the self as essentially rational, disembodied, and solitary holds sway. From this perspective, it is easy to see how relationships could be seen as detrimental to the growth and development of the self - especially for women - whose stereotyped roles as nurturers and caregivers of others threaten to swallow us alive.

Another vision of the self suggests that we are by nature embodied, passionaterelational, and communal. Many feminist adhering to this viewpoint stress that identity is found in community. Black womanist theologian Delores S. Williams coined the term "relational interdependence" to name Black women's struggles for freedom from racist and sexist stereotypes within the context of relationships, family, and community. In this view, women's independence is relational.

There is no you without me; no me without you. The self is forged in relationship.

Even so, drawing healthy boundaries for the relationships that structure our lives and bind us to others is necessary, and it's refreshing to see the women of True Blood taking these steps - and their men responding in kind!

Yours in TB withdrawal...

~ Rachel