Vampires and the Names of Women Who Love Them


Here's the thing: I don't like vampires. I'm not interested in stories or movies about vampires. I have, nonetheless, developed a habit of paying attention to shows about women who are in love with vampires, having been sucked (har!) into the genre because Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so good.

I understand that Season II of True Blood starts tonight. If I had HBO I would probably watch it. I'm about half way through Season I on dvd, and I like it well enough to keep going. Before starting the show, I read Dead Until Dark, the first novel in Charlaine Harris's series about southern vampires, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse books.

I admit I paid attention to True Blood only because I felt obligated to do so, given that I write about Buffy and that I'm going to write about the loathsome Twilight series. But it's... interesting. I'm interested. Dead Until Dark was about 50 million times better than Twilight, on every level: better prose, stronger character development, more realistic attraction between the main characters, and WAY more compelling supporting characters. (Though one of the nice things the TV show has done is make those supporting characters even more compelling--I didn't realize how much the story needed more from Tara and Lafayette until I saw more of them.)

True Blood isn't as good as Buffy, at least not so far, but it sure as hell doesn't suck. (Well, OK, it sucks in the vampire way. It doesn't suck in the bad way, of, you know, sucking something besides blood from a jugular vein.) But despite the fact that both shows focus on pretty young blonde human females with supernatural abilities who fall in love with vampires over a century old, they're so different that they're hard to compare.

I started to provide some background and analysis of TB, but also started worrying about spoilers, since I know I have quite a few readers in Europe where the show has yet to air, and besides, if you really want to know about the show, there are websites that already contain more information can I could provide. So I'm just going to make a few non-spoiler observations.

1. It drives me nuts how in the show, Jason Stackhouse always looks SO INCREDIBLY SWEATY AND STRINGY. Everyone else manages to look like they shower and wash their hair from time to time. Not this guy. His lank (but ever so artfully highlighted) hair is always in his face, which itself is slick with moisture. He is so sweaty that he makes Richard Nixon look as cool and dry as Egypt in December. ICK.

2. One of the things I really like about the Sookie Stackhouse books is that the heroine is named Sookie Stackhouse, an interesting, unusual name with some nice hard consonants to balance out the girly sibilants. You realize what a good name it is for an attractive young modern girl who falls in love with an ancient vampire when you compare it to the names of the others of her ilk: Buffy Summers, Bella Swann, Elena Gilbert. (I only learned about this Elena Gilbert person today when I went to and was confronted by an ad for the Vampire Diaries.)

I admit that when I first started watching True Blood, I confused Sookie Stackhouse with Sookie Sapperstein, the character played by Claire Danes in Igby Goes Down (which I like a lot). Not only are they both blonde 20-somethings, but the WASPs Sookie Sapperstein sleeps with seem pretty vampiric, so the women's sexual proclivities are fairly similar too. Anyway. That's actually an aside.

Ooh.... it just occurs to me that the word "sookie" is as close as you can get to naming someone "suckie," and might be a bad vampire pun.... Oh god, I hope that wasn't intentional. I hope C Harris had something else in mind when she came up with that name.

The name Buffy Summers was intended to be a joke, of course: Joss Whedon thought it was funny that someone supernaturally empowered to kill monsters should have a name as silly as Buffy. there is nothing ironic (or even very thoughtful) about the name Bella Swann: that character is not an ugly duckling; she's a beautiful swan--get it? It's interesting how much the names Buffy and Bella share: B/vowel/double-consonant/vowel(sound); Swann and Summers are pretty similar too.

I don't know much about this Elena Gilbert character; apparently she's a blonde in the novels but they cast a brunette for the tv show. Her first name is very girly and vowely; her last name is thoroughly respectable and at least begins with a nice voiced velar plosive. (That brief introduction to phonetics I had 25 years ago has finally paid off.)

But here's the thing: While Sookie (Suckie?) Stackhouse is a good name for a chick in love with a vampire, we've seen other blondes with supernatural abilities, an unconventional love life and lots of S's (i.e., Samantha Stevens). I'd really like to see a vamp-loving chick named, I don't know, Rhoda Morgenstern, maybe, or Victoria Barkley, or even Willow Rosenberg or Rudy Huxtable. Something with a little more edge and a little less hisss.

I was sitting here imagining really terrible TV names I hope don't come back. Shirley Partridge heads the list... That made me think of Carol Brady, and that made me think of Carrie Bradshaw.... those last two names are almost the same name. OK, I know Candace Bushnell chose "Carrie Bradshaw" because it had the same initials she did, but couldn't she have picked something a little less like one of tv's blandest moms?


I was about halfway through the fourth or fifth episode of True Blood, and all of the sudden I remembered that I didn't have to watch it just because I'd recorded it. I reset my DVR to not record it, and didn't watch it again.

I thought it was kind of boring, although I did like Tara a lot.

Huh. Here I thought the fact that I was kinda bored was due to my already having read the book--well, that, and the fact that I don't really like vampires, and that Jason is so sweaty and annoying.

I am definitely bored at points, but overall it's good enough that I'll probably manage to finish the season. Though I am sort of wondering how they're going to drag the story out for 13 full episodes.

Just wanted to point you towards Laura Miller's short piece on urban fantasy over at Salon, if you haven't seen it.

Thanks so much, erin. I did read the piece, and was thinking I should probably post a link to it before too long--and now you've saved me the trouble!

Plus I am always grateful when a reader takes the time to mention something like this to me. I'm glad people try to help me stay in the know. :-)

I'm glad you love buffy as much I do! You'd probably appreciate who won the #1 hottest male vampire award!

Hi Sara--thanks for sharing that! It's very cool that Spike beat everyone from Twilight. :-)

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on June 14, 2009 1:33 PM.

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