First off, if you haven’t seen season 3 yet, then SPOILER ALERTS! We’re getting ready for major show withdrawal over here. The Vampire Diaries is off until January 27th, True Blood doesn’t come back until summer, The Gates was canceled, –ah, life cannot get any worse! But in the meantime, we’re still cooking up lots of goodies for you back here, so don’t worry that you’re not getting enough True Blood. We’ve got all the blood, true or false, you can stand.
I love Alan Ball’s talent; he weaves together the books and the show very well, without altering too much to exclude fans of the book, or including too much of Charlaine Harris’s original story, to make the show completely predictable. That being said, I have a serious problem with the Hotshot in True Blood, versus the Hotshot in the book series; Hot Shot first appears in Dead to the World, where Crystal, and Calvin Norris are introduced to Jason Stackhouse. I’m going to go through a short list of the major differences I find the most disturbing, and at the end, I’ll sum it all up and tell you why.
1. The Whole METH Thing – In the book, there’s definitely a ‘not-so-classy’ atmosphere in Hotshot, but the whole crystal meth thing was nowhere near as prevalent. If meth was mentioned, I certainly don’t remember it, so it must have been pretty brief. In the show, Hotshot is crawling with meth-heads and crack-whores, and skinny little drug-babies, everyone is doing it, selling it, or making it. Overkill? Yes, I think so.
2. Calvin Norris – Lived all through the book series, and even liked Sookie Stackhouse; the two even got along, and visited. Calvin actually asked Sookie if he could ‘be her man’. And in the book, he was definitely a good prospect, aside from being a broke hillbilly who was old enough to be her daddy and all. But still, in the books, Calvin was a good man. Now, in the show, Calvin Norris is a skinny, mean, junkie-type who is all for his own daughter/niece/whatever, marrying her own cousin, and letting him beat on her. He’s also a higher-up in the Hotshot drug business. Wtf happened here, Mr. Ball?
3. Crystal Norris – In the books, Crystal is skinny, mean, ruthless, –extremely manipulative, and …single. And there really isn’t that big of a deal about Jason being brought into the family, since they’re all in desperate need of new blood. So Crystal is actually pretty enthusiastic about getting pregnant. But in the show, it’s a whole different story. Everyone hates Jason for liking Crystal, and she’s a poor pathetic little canker blossom, who needs saving from the inbreeders.
4. Felton – Do I really need to say anything here? Who the hell is this guy? Are we just inventing people now? Really? I’d like to speak with the manager!
I love True Blood, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I think often of the show and the books being two separate entities. But this was almost unforgivable. I can even live with the whole, fruity fairy thing. But Mr. Ball took a quiet little town, hillbilly laden, for sure, a few incest issues, sure, –and then turned it into Ethiopia. Plus he turned Crystal into some pathetic ‘damsel-in-distress’ archetype. So… what, is it impossible to believe that Crystal can be a huge bitch trying to screw everyone around? Or that decent people can be poor white trash, –or that decent and inbred are two mutually exclusive qualities?
I didn’t like that the show ended up portraying Crystal in a very sexist light; women can be nasty, horrible, manipulative bitches, and still retain their humanity. We don’t always need to be saved by someone, and our characters don’t always need to be saved by someone, in order to spark our empathy. Small towns, where people are broke down and beaten, can in fact, exist without a big meth trade going on. People can be decent, even when they’re fucking their relatives; cousin-marrying in the South, is just another fact of life, in many communities and families.
I think it’s more than a little creatively unethical to mutate a small, morally ambiguous town of white trash, to a small, morally bankrupt town of drug addicts and inbred sister-fuckers. Not to mention the obvious sexism involved in turning Crystal into a more socially acceptable stereotypical female character. Am I offended? A little bit. Will I continue watching? Absolutely. But I do still think this was a misstep, and hopefully, the much-awaited season 4 will put a little more optimistic light on Hotshot, because it definitely deserves a little bit of reputation-repairing.
Alan Ball seems to have pitted Hot Shot for a quick destruction, rather than a lasting community of were-panthers having survived with their own traditions. Sure, drugs and meth are entrenched into the jobless rural communities in Appalachia and Ozarks, enough to have touched everyone’s families. I thought Charlaine always had Calvin Norris described as a good, hard-working man with old-fashioned values. He was a patriarch of Hot Shot as a pack-leader, not as a drug kingpin. Has she done any interviews that mention the portrayal of Calvin Norris and Hot Shot?
I’m re-reading the books for what seems like the millionth time at the moment, so I’m quite on the ball right now! There was NO meth ring in Hotshot at all, ever! In fact, I’m pretty certain that Book-Calvin would probably deal very severely with someone bringing that shit into his community: they would probably disappear forever! Calvin Norris is, in the books, a patriarch and head of the were-panthers in the hideously inbred Hotshot community. He has a steady job in a company called Norcross, which came with many lucrative benefits (health insurance, etc). We learn this quite soon after meeting him in the books as he uses these facts as a way of trying to establish himself to Sookie as a marriage prospect: he can look after her financially. Regarding Felton- He does appear in the books. He’s a jilted suitor of Crystal who takes offense at Jason’s pursuit of her romantically as he always wanted her as a partner. Here come MAJOR SPOILERS for anyone who hasn’t read the books! It is Felton who kidnaps Jason and locks him in a shed and covers him in the bites that mean that he is now a bitten were-panther. He also hides this fact and helps out in the search party looking for Jason in the woods surrounding his home. This is the main sub-plot in Dead to the World. Yes, Crystal is for all intents and purposes single but that doesn’t mean that she can’t have jealous ex-boyfriends or suitors. It’s usual for people in Hotshot to remain in Hotshot and marry within the community so, no matter how much it’s encouraged as something good for the whole, there is always going to be tension when a member of the group tries to entrench an outsider into it. Hotshot is treated with suspicion by most other characters in Bon Temps and Renard Parish in general, but that’s more because the people there are strange and distrustful than any overt criminal activity going on there. And if there was criminal activity going on there, it’s highly unlikely that the local cops would investigate anyway since the last sheriff to pay the town a visit never came back!
The portrayal of Hotshot isn’t the only major annoyance for me in True Blood though. I hate the portrayal of Sam’s family. I hate that they seem to have removed Eric’s funny bone (they being the writers, directors, etc and not Alex Skarsgard!). I hate the general misunderstanding of how shifters work. I hate the re-writing of Eric’s personal history- CH’s history of Eric is so much better and draws more accurately on the history. I hate how they seem to have given Sookie extra powers that remind me more of the X-Men than the Southern Vampire Mysteries. I hated the whole maenad story overtaking the Dallas one in season 2. I hate the horrendously overt pro-Bill stance that they’ve gone with, and the interviews about with Alan Ball about that bit are worse! I didn’t get through all of season 3 before giving up on it, and I did very well indeed compared with some people I know. My husband quit trying after season 1 and his dad couldn’t make it that far and gave up at some point in the 3rd episode. I’ll probably try season 4, but if in the 1st 2 episodes they’ve messed with the Eric/Sookie storyline and try to make it into something sordid and wrong (as they somehow managed with the bullet scene in s.2 and on several other occasions also) then I will most probably give up on True Blood entirely forever, as I probably should have done when s.2 brought me to tears of severe anger!
First off, thanks Estel for the info about Felton; it’s been more than ayear since I read the book this season was based on. A lot of the inaccuracies in the show really don’t bother me. For the most part, I can accept them as two separate things. But the part about Hotshot is a little too… condescending for me.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and honestly, I think you’ll enjoy the show a lot more if you think of it as “inspired by”, not necessarily as something that’s trying to be exactly like the books.
And trust me, if you think this is off-track, trying reading the book ‘Ella Enchanted’ sometime. Then watch the movie. It’ll blow your mind.
I am glad Jason is not a were panther on the show, but I like him as one in the books. The differences do not hurt the appeal to me, I just love not knowing what will happen!