Ted Cruz Has Some Thoughts About True Blood

What Women Really Think
July 23 2014 1:13 PM

True Blood May Be a Lot of Things, Ted Cruz, but It's Not Misogynist

true_blood
Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer in True Blood, a show that makes little sense but doesn't have anything against women.

Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO

Ted Cruz, once again demonstrating that he has an ego too tender to be in politics, threw a tantrum on Facebook on Tuesday upon learning that the HBO schlock-fest True Blood made fun of him in a recent episode. “Sunday night, they aired a misogynist and profanity-ridden episode where Texas Republicans are murdered attending a ‘Ted Cruz fundraiser,’ ” he wrote, not even giving his followers the courtesy of a spoiler warning.

It was a masterful display of completely missing the point, and not just because he complained about the profanity in a show whose sex and violence make Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street. Still, at least that complaint was accurate enough. But “misogynist”? It’s like Cruz heard somewhere that “misogynist” was a bad thing to be and just started flinging words around to discredit the show. I mean, sure, one of the characters in the clip in question uses the words “Republicunt,” but considering that she’s a self-identified “asshole” who murders people for fun, it’s a stretch to argue the show is endorsing her language choices here.

Advertisement

True Blood may be a muddled mess that riffs on touchy political issues without having anything coherent to say about them. You can definitely ding the show for having some racially unsavory moments or for accidentally perpetuating the homophobia it seems to want to denounce. But the show isn’t misogynist, and not just because you can see Alexander Skarsgård or Ryan Kwanten in the altogether in any random episode. (Though having a show that panders to the female gaze as much as the male gaze is a quiet triumph.) No, it’s because in the topsy-turvy, screwed-up world of True Blood, female characters are allowed to be just as crafty, evil, autonomous, and straight-up horny as the men.

Take the show's main character, Sookie Stackhouse, who gets to live alone and have sex with whomever she wants, but anyone who suggests she's a cat lady or a slut is clearly a villain. Arguably, you could say she's even rewarded for those independent ways by getting to bang both Skarsgård and Joe Manganiello. Sookie was first presented to viewers as a traditional damsel in distress, but over the course of the series, it’s become clear that her male vampire lovers need her to save them more than she needs them. 

Another example: Sookie’s brother Jason, a blond bimbo (a man) who gets exploited by members of the opposite sex (women) over and over again, as he's too dumb to learn from experience. Then there are the many, many supporting female characters who get to be villains and heroes in equal parts, and usually in ways that are closer to how the male characters get to behave than to female stereotypes. The show may not be feminist—it’s too muddled for that kind of coherent political statement—but it’s a real stretch to call it misogynist. 

Oh, and the show is terrible. I can't believe I've outed myself as a regular viewer. Look what you've done, Ted Cruz.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 18 2014 6:00 AM All Shook Up My 11-year-old has been exploring herself with my “back massager.” Should I stop her?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?