TV: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Paper Giants.

One of the best shows this year. Unfortunately, it only ran over two nights.

The Kennedys.

Wow. Just wow. I loved this miniseries that was cancelled by the History Channel in the U.S. because it allegedly portrayed the Kennedy family in too negative a light. Luckily, it was picked up by the ABC here. I am now officially in love with Greg Kinnear.

Go Back to Where You Came From.

Apart from Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners expose on the meat industry (below), SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From was the most groundbreaking television this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it changed anyone’s minds about the plight of refugees in this country, because those who already empathise with asylum seekers were the show’s target audience, and those who think refugees should go back to where they came from snubbed the show.

Sookie & Eric Finally Get Together on True Blood.

While I’m more of a Sookie and Bill fan, and an Alcide-in-general fan, Eric’s turn as sensitive Sookie-lover in True Blood’s fourth season was a must-watch. But thankfully, the Nordic vampire is back to his old, heartless self.

Charlotte King’s Rape in Private Practice.

Private Practice is an oft-shunned show, in favour of its Seattle counterpart, Grey’s Anatomy, but season four dealt with abortion and rape particularly sensitively and realistically.

Four Corners’ Expose on the Meat Market.

This was probably one of the most talked about news stories in Australia, if one of the most poorly rated episodes of Four Corners. Not because people didn’t care, but because it was so hard to watch. It’s perhaps too soon to tell, but I think we are seeing a chance in meat practices in Australia because of this story.

The Slap.

I found one of ABC’s most anticipated shows of the year to be a spectacular letdown. I’d had Christos Tsiolkas’ novel on my reading list since it was released, however I missed out on reading it before the show premiered in October. Perhaps if I had read the book first I would feel differently about the show, but I found it to be stereotypical and tokenistic, and a massive disappointment from the screen version I had hyped up in my mind. Fail.

MamaMia Gets Its Own TV Show.

Probably not many TV watchers outside of the insular community of MamaMia and Sky News would have known about Mia Freedman’s lifestyle website making the switch to TV. I don’t have pay TV but, luckily, the shows are available to watch on the MamaMia website, YouTube and Facebook, where the panelists talk about all manner of things, like sex, mental illness, celebrity, porn, religion, parenthood and more.

Angry Boys.

I hadn’t watched any of Chris Lilley’s stuff before Angry Boys and, while a lot who had thought the show was a bit of a letdown, I really enjoyed it.

Housos.

Another one that was a bit hit-and-miss, I’d anticipated the show all year. While some moments were gold, others were just supremely unfunny.

At Home With Julia.

Finally, the cherry on top of a parody-tastic television year. I really enjoyed Amanda Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard, but I still found the fact that there was a show about a sitting prime minister pretty offensive.

Any TV moments I missed here that you thought defined 2011?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

Sookie as Feminist? Hear Her Roar.

Ever since I started watching True Blood, I’ve had a hard time believing Sookie Stackhouse as a feminist icon. Sure, she kicks a lot of butt, sometimes seeking danger out herself (taking down the Rattrays when they milk blood from Bill in the car park of Merlottes), is in charge of her sexuality, if that means staying a virgin until the right man comes along, and doesn’t take shit from anybody. But… she’s just so damn annoying!

So is Glee’s Rachel Berry and most of the Gossip Girl cast, and they could be seen as icons of feminism for the texting set. However, instead of whining to her teacher, withholding sex from her boyfriend or plotting revenge against her nemeses, Sookie is just the opposite. She may be blonde, virginal and innocent in every sense, but she is also very much like Buffy Summers, who was created with bucking the horror movie victim stereotype in mind.

As one commenter on True Blood’s Nest points out, “Sookie is brave to the point of being stupid at times…”. While this can be an admirable quality sometimes, it does contribute to her annoyingness.

Speaking of characters who act before they speak, Tara Thornton comes to mind.

True Blood is all about juxtaposing discrimination against the blacks and the gays against the discrimination of vampires. The book True Blood & Philosophy, which I reviewed last week, mentions that Sookie and Tara were both raised—for the most part—by Sookie’s grandmother, yet Sookie is “admired, protected and coeveted by every heterosexual male main character and loved by a sweet, nurturing grandmother” while “Tara is blunt, sarcastic, morose, love-starved and goes home each night to an alcoholic mother” and gets caught up in Maryann’s spiral of lies and magic. Racist stereotypes or social criticism?

And while we’re on Maryann, she seems to embody “certain stereotypes of late-1970s feminism”, both in the clothes she wears (floaty, feminine and ethereal maxi dresses) and the hedonistic, maenadic lifestyle she espouses. Given her obsession with taking down Sam, using Eggs as her partner in crime and erecting the meat-statue in Sookie’s yard (not to mention her “hunter’s soufflé”!), she really embodies the “feminist as man-eater” ideal.

While these are good examples of other, non-blonde/innocent/virginal heroines in True Blood (and while we’re at it, let’s not forget Pam, Lorena and Sophie-Ann), I would also like to examine Sookie in relation to the men of Bon Tempts. Let’s look at True Blood’s Nest again:

“… Bill and various other hot men are always rescuing Sookie from certain death, or so it seems. But remember y’all, it was her that tried to find the town serial killer, not the useless cops. It was her that killed Rene the Killer with a shovel to the neck while the menfolk bumbled around the graveyard uselessly. It was her that decided to go to Dallas in order to get Lafayette out of Eric’s icky dungeon, AND she wanted money and a driveway as part of the deal. Once again the menfolk spluttered and marvelled at her bravery and sauciness, and lusted after her even more for it. She is the mistress of her own kick ass destiny while Bill, Sam and even Eric can only follow in her wake, hoping to be of some use.”

The original title for this post was “What is it With Sookie”, and seriously, what is it with Sookie?! By the end of season three, we have found out that Sookie’s appeal to the “menfolk” may be because of her fairy heritage, not because of her physical attributes or personality traits.

This is unfortunate for Bill, because it is plain to see that he does love Sookie for who she is, not what she can do for him. But I will say that the fairy blood storyline is an intriguing one; did Sookie’s blood allow Bill to crawl, albeit with his flesh charring with each movement he made, to her rescue in the graveyard at the end of season one? Is that also why Eric wants her?

But when you take away their supernatural abilities, Bill and Sookie’s relationship is one with issues that I’m sure a lot of modern day couples face: Bill has old-fashioned sensibilities in wanting to protect his lover, while Sookie struggles with the concept of maintaining “independence in sexual relationships”, which second- and third-wave feminism have told us we must do. Nothing illustrates this conflict (and metaphorical backlash?) than the second episode of season two, when Sookie storms out of Bill’s car after a fight about said independence and protection only to be attacked by a mythical creature for her efforts!

[True Blood’s Nest] Fangirls Speak Out: Sookie—Feminist Icon?

[Racialicious] True Blood. Tired Stereotypes.

[Feminist Frequency] Beyond True Blood’s Sensationalism.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Book Review: True Blood & Philosophy by George A. Dunn & Rebecca Housel.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Has Feminism Failed?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Top 10 TV Moments of the Year.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Gossip Girl Proves There’s No Such Thing as Wonder Woman.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.