Do Black People Watch HBO’s True Blood? or Do we Only watch BET’s the Game?
I am very excited about the première of the third season of True Blood—dashing Bill, virginal Sookie, stereotypical of black women Terra, sinisterly charming Eric, and rogue-like Jason Stackhouse. To say the least, I am a fan, but not a cult-like fan. I would never attend a True Blood movie première dressed as a Vampire, a Hobbit (i.e. Lorde of the Rings), a boy wizard (i.e. Harry Potter), or as an Upper East Side fashionistas (i.e. Sex and the City). That’s not me.
I’m just a regular-ole-everyday kind of fan who wanted to invite her regular-ole-everyday black friends to her modestly small apartment to watch the third season première of True Blood. In my mind, it was a simple request. But, the response from my dear “tried and true” black friends was, “Black people don’t watch True Blood.” What? What do you mean black people don’t watch True Blood? The sheer numbers of weekly viewers alone attest to the fact that there must be a percentage of black people watching the show. Perhaps, the type of fandom black people display is more low key then die heart Twilight fans. Perhaps, we do not join online groups and play fantasy football version of True Blood’s picks.
But, I know I am not the only black person who enjoys watching the blood sucking love triangle between Sookie, Eric, and Bill. Or, watching Terra who I will admit displays every stereotype of black womanhood reconnect with her sober Christian fundamentalist mother. Or, watching Jason Stackhouse evolve from Season One’s vampire-phobic to Season Two’s vampire ally. The series is addictive. But, my regular-ole-everyday black friends argue, “Black people are not interested in the show because Black people do not get down with Vampires like that. We rather watch the Game or the Wire.” Really? So, if the show does not involve black dysfunctional predominantly hetero-relationships or a black man killing black people through the sale of narcotics, guns, and women then the show by racial default is not black enough?
Mind you, I know that True Blood is problematic in many ways from its stereotypes of black women to its parody of racism/vamp-phobia in the US. So, the show is not perfect. But, when I ask my regular-ole-everyday black friends have you ever watched True Blood to be able to form an opinion for why they dislike the show, they answer no. So, my question is this, “How can you have an opinion on something you have never watched?” It’s like taking my inner city cousin to a 3 ½ star restaurant and she tells me in her best black girl urban tone, “I don’t eat dat.” Mind you, the girl has never tried the dish, but yet she knows like Jesus walks on water knows that she does not like the dish. Yes, I honor her agency and space to say what she likes and dislikes, but a part of me says, “Little girl try the damn dish and then tell me what you think.”
So, for me the issue is not about my black friends liking or dislike the show, but about their willingness to try something new and different . . . instead of reading the classics of Toni Morrison, how about reading some Octavia Butler—science fictions/speculative fiction . . . instead of eating dinner indoors, how about eating outside (and family reunions don’t count) . . . instead of always watching the Game marathons on BET, how about watching only “one” episode of True Blood.
So, the question is: Do Black people watch True Blood?