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I Hate Sookie

Sookie Stackhouse is the worst. She is just plain awful. In the “Southern Vampire Mystery” books by Charlaine Harris or in the TV show True Blood, Sookie is one of the most irritating protagonists I have ever come across.

I guess I’ve had her on my mind lately because I just read the most recent book in the series, and the next season of True Blood is coming out soon. One of the reasons why Sookie annoys me so much is because she was clearly designed to be an everywoman type of protagonist. The reader or watcher is supposed to relate to her because she’s the relatively normal main character who is surrounded by supernatural beings.  At the beginning of the series, she is lonely and misunderstood, she’s never had a boyfriend, and everyone thinks she’s a freak. All of these things about Sookie seem to be designed to make readers feel like she’s the adorable underdog we want to root for.  But as the book and TV series continue, she becomes less and less likable, as she becomes more of a judgmental shortsighted hypocrite. In the show, she’s a terrible friend to Tara, is constantly putting loved ones in danger, and her priorities seem completely out of whack. In the books, her inner monologue is often her judging and looking down on people for their choices, when hers are just as unsavory. Based on what I’ve heard from friends who read the books or watch the show, I’m not alone in how I feel about Sookie, yet my Sookie-hating friends and I all continue to watch True Blood and read the books. Why?

Some protagonists are meant to be horrible. We can read the book and enjoy the story without loving the protagonist. Humbert Humbert isn’t someone most people would like or relate to, yet Lolita is considered a classic novel. I guess in the case of Lolita, it is possible to love the book simply because it is good writing, not because the main character is likable or relatable.  At other times, I have found myself loathing what was proclaimed to be a great book because I disliked the main characters so much. Wuthering Heights comes to mind as one that drove me bonkers. I found all the characters to be terrible people, and it made it impossible for me to enjoy the book. Yet at the same time, I love TV shows such as Shameless and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia precisely because the main characters are so despicable.

I’ve come across some books where I was able to love the story even when I didn’t like the central character.  My username here is one I’ve used online since high school. At the time I was obsessed with Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat books. When I first read them I felt a connection to the characters and their world that I had never experienced before. I loved Weetzie and her friends. Once I got to the later stories in the series, I connected most with Witch Baby. I couldn’t stand Cherokee, and I didn’t like Weetzie nearly as much as I did in the earlier books. My favorite weirdo teenager was now the mother of two teenagers, and she couldn’t fix the brewing problems between the two. The problems that I always saw as Cherokee being cruel towards Witch Baby, the sad twisty girl I saw myself in.  Why did my beloved Weetzie let this happen in her home? How did she end up raising a daughter as mean as Cherokee and one who felt as alone as Witch Baby did?

In the case of Weetzie Bat, I was able to love the stories just as much, even though the main character grew into someone different that the person I originally felt such a connection to. Why don’t I feel the same way about Sookie Stackhouse? I thought she was an OK protagonist in the first few books, but as the series continues, I find her so obnoxious that it completely ruins the books for me.

What about you, Persephies? Are there books or shows you like despite a protagonist that makes your skin crawl? Are there books you can’t stand because the main character is so obnoxious? And will Sookie Stackhouse make us all throw things at the TV on this season of True Blood?

By weetziebat

Brittany - 24 - NJ.
I have a lot of feelings about horror movies, Batman, John Waters and trashy reality tv.

27 replies on “I Hate Sookie”

In my experience, the difference between a horrible character that is likable and a horrible character that is not likable is whether or not the writer seems aware of the fact that what the character is doing is honorable. Even without saying it explicitly, the audience almost always knows. I haven’t read Lolita, but my impression is that the main character’s actions are supposed to be controversial and perhaps even condemned. I haven’t read these books either, but it sounds like we’re supposed to root for her, without criticism or question, even when she is being insufferable. That rubs people the wrong way.

Well, from an outside perspective, the HH (the narrator of Lolita) is a horrendous person. From inside the narrative, because he’s the controller of the story, he tries to justify everything he does and shifts all the blame for his behavior onto Lolita. There are loads of readers who do not understand that HH is a monster; they’re seduced by his voice in the book.

I think Harris is very aware of how Sookie is behaving. But, again, this is a book series told from Sookie’s POV. The reader needs to employ some between-the-lines analysis to get the full story of what’s going on.

While I can half-heartedly agree with most of the comments, meeting Sookie through the books first made me feel like she was really human. Part of it may be because she’s actually Southern, and not just “set in the South.” I realize I’m a fish IN the water here, but Sookie’s attitudes, judgements, affections, and blind spots seem familiar to me, whether I like them or not. I like that I can see them, and still see a resourceful girl who is basically honest, basically good, and perhaps only normally self-centered. (Read: No worse than I was when I first fell in love, made love, etc.) In the TV, she comes off as a lot weaker and bitchier, I agree, and if I hadn’t read the books, I’d definitely want to fuss at her a good long while about now.

My biggest hate-on with Sookie is that she acts more like a hot girl than a freak. I mean, I have to accept, from evidence, that Sookie actually can read minds and that she’s hot. And then she says she’s a virgin because she’s a freak. Oh. Kay. If the mind reading is that traumatizing, how is it that she’s not suffering PTSD? How is she confrontational? How is she spunky and sassy? Sookie may be supernatural, but she doesn’t act like someone who has lived her life as a freak.

Anyway, I manage to get past that. I managed to get through six Harry Potter books, too, but it still disturbed me to get normal-seeming behavior like that from a child who supposedly lived in a closet. Both Sookie and Harry should be traumatized, reactive, lashing out or withdrawing… But it seems like it’s just a way of putting them in an envelope, so they’re pulled out, all fresh and clean and shiny when we first meet them–the opposite of what that condition should have produced.

Oh Sookie, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

TV-Sookie is just awful. A horrible, horrible person. Rude, petulant, dismissive, impulsive to the point of insanity, selfish and a truly awful friend. She rushes into dangerous situations without a thought for the safety of those who inevitably come to her assistance. She entirely dismisses her “best friend’s” kidnapping and rape ordeal with the throwaway comment, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. (I put “best friend” in quotes because Sookie doesn’t treat Tara as a best friend.)

Book-Sookie is not too bad, though is somewhat insufferable in the early books and displays a strong tendency to slut-shaming up until the most recent books. As another commentator also mentioned, book-Sookie has more mundance concerns to deal with than TV-Sookie. She has to pay bills, juggle shifts at Merlotte’s and pay for whatever havoc is wreaked on her home by various supernatural “visitors”.(*Book spoiler below). TV-Sookie doesn’t seem to have any trouble paying bills and blows off work whenever she runs off to save Bee-yul.

Also, book-Sookie is usually the one doing the saving, not the one needing it. She’s way more resourceful and brave than TV-Sookie.

*Book SPOILERS
Sookie is often worried about money. In the later books Eric buys her a new coat and pays for her driveway to be re-gravelled (or paved, can’t remember which). He also pays her jobs she does for him. At one point (this is after she left Bill) she muses that Bill never seemed to realise that money was tight for her. He gave the Bellefleur siblings money because they’re family but he gave Sookie nothing. Sookie compares him to Eric in that regard and Bill is found wanting.

I actually disagree whole heartedly. To be fair I’ve only read the first 3 books, but one of the reasons I liked them so much was because Sookie seemed like a very realistic character to me. I liked her faults and her level of strength and her seemingly petty reactions. They all screamed human to me, which is important for any human/supernatural story in my opinion. I never saw her as a Sue either. She’s not overpowered, the men attracted to her have good reasons within the narrative, and she is never presented as perfect or perfect except for a superficial fault. Any perceived whininess also always seems to come from a logical place. She’s constantly in high stress situations. I’d get gritchy from time to time too.__

I hate hate hate hate Seinfeld for the terrible person aspect. The sexism! The racism! The self-indulgent “I’m horrible so I can say it and you can laugh at it!” It’s not cute or funny.

As for Sookie, she’s a reader/author avatar- I bet tv tropes has a specific “Sue” for this. So beautiful it’s a curse? Magic that’s also a curse? Everyone wants her? Anti-Sue period? Yep. I wonder if a human can ever date a monster in a book/show/movie and not be a Sue. Isn’t being the token human a form of Suedom?

I hate Seinfeld and thought I was the only one :) I’m not exactly sure why it rubs me the wrong way but I think it has to do with the self-indulgence you mentioned and the smugness. I always wonder how that show gets a pass for having no people of color on it despite being set in NYC yet a show like Friends get shat on for it all the time….With that being said I am a huge fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm for the cringe inducing situations Larry deliberately puts himself in.

I hated Seinfeld, too. I’m not crazy about any of the shows where the leads are just horrible people, except Arrested Development, but on AD at least we got a lead who suffered along with us, and there were consequences (sometimes hilarious) for the awful actions of the cast. On Seinfeld there were no consequences, until the very last episode.

One of the reasons why Sookie annoys me so much is because she was clearly designed to be an everywoman type of protagonist. The reader or watcher is supposed to relate to her because she’s the relatively normal main character who is surrounded by supernatural beings. At the beginning of the series, she is lonely and misunderstood, she’s never had a boyfriend, and everyone thinks she’s a freak. All of these things about Sookie seem to be designed to make readers feel like she’s the adorable underdog we want to root for. But as the book and TV series continue, she becomes less and less likable, as she becomes more of a judgmental shortsighted hypocrite.

Eh. I think there needs to be some distinction between show-Sookie and book-Sookie, because they really do have significant differences.

SPOILER TALK

She’s pretty awful in season 3 of TB, but so is almost every single female character. It was a horrible season for the women — just weird plot diversions, horrid characterizations, really poor grasp of how women relate to each other. And the lumping of all these things into one 12 episode arc just made everyone come off poorly. But in terms of how self-centered Sookie seems, I do think we need to keep in mind that less than 3 months have passed from the beginning of the show until the end of season 3. That’s a lot of stuff to absorb in a really short amount of time for a character — we, the viewers, have had several years to process stuff. The Bon Temps crew is basically dealing with one crisis on top of another — hell, they still haven’t cleaned out Sookie’s house from the death orgies in season 2.

I am still really pissed off that Sookie didn’t kill Lorena.

I’ve been liking the progression of Sookie’s character through the books for the most part. I think you see some real changes in her — there not all good, but they seem fairly consistent to what’s been going on. Especially when you read between the lines of Sookie’s narrative — she’s loath to discuss the really upsetting things that have been happening to her. We basically don’t even understand how badly she’s tortured until she makes the cast off remark about how much flesh is missing from her thigh after the fairies bit it out of her. I mean, that’s some screwed up shit there.

I did just finish the new book this weekend — I was upset with her jumping on board with Amelia’s plan, but I could understand it. And the end of the book? She sounds like someone who is deeply depressed. Everything that’s gone on for the last year and a half is completely in contrast to who she thought she was (literally and figuratively) and the morals she thought she’d live by. I wish they’d carry over some of her desire for a normal life where she had some kids and married a nice guy who just take care of her to the show, but I don’t really trust them to do anything un-hamhanded with that.

I agree about Sooki, I’ve raged about it on here before. SPOILERS – the entire book about Crystal/Jason and Crystal’s death PISSED me off. The books made it seem like she deserved her horrible end because she cheated on Jason. Eric makes a comment about her being “worthless” which I thought was way too harsh. I don’t really care if they were married. Jason is a dick. Plus he seemed unaffected by her meanness AND death and seems to get over it pretty quick. Sookie is WAY to judge-y. She does whatever she damn well pleases but then condemns everyone, especially the female characters, for being “slutty” sometimes.

The first main character I ever really loathed was Winston Smith of 1984. It was so hard for me to finish that damn book because I hated his guts so much. I could probably go on for pages about why I hate him, but I can’t. I’ve seriously bitched about that guy too much. Even though I’m probably going to talk about him here the least, I hate him the most.

Next one is Anita Blake. I’m currently going through those novels and I’m only on 8 “Blue Moon” so please don’t spoil later books for me. I go back and forth with her. I love her strength and the fact that she very seldom changes, and I also appreciate her want to protect ALL the people she perceives as “innocent”. I HATED the whole “I don’t want to sleep with a man because I’m the type of woman who always falls in the love with who I sleep with.” I was like, wtf. Plus she’s constantly making snide comments about women. “Women just weren’t designed to look tough.” <– this, or something similar (too lazy to look it up directly), was said because a female character had crossed her arms to look tough, but had to tuck her arms under her boobs because they were too big. Perhaps I have trouble with the author's view of women? Pretty much every damn female character in those books turns out to be evil. Oh and ugh, she's 106 pounds. Which would be fine, but I just don't picture her like this. This last book she freaked out for gaining 4 lbs. In every other way Anita does NOT care about her appearance, in fact she lets her sexy French boyfriend dress her most of the time, and yet she whines about a slight weight increase. And the whole, "boo-hoo I never thought of myself as beautiful" crap. I don't even get that. At least Sookie says she's hot and therefore it makes sense that hot men want her.

I won’t give you any spoilers for the later books but I will tell you these two things: Blue Moon was the last of the Blake books that I liked, and that the Anita from the later books bears so little resemblance to those of the earlier books, its kinda of shocking.

SPOILER TALK

As for Jason/Crystal — I don’t think that Crystal was worthless because of the cheating, I think the books did a pretty good job of painting her as a pretty horrid person way before that. And that same book has some pretty damning characterizations of Jason — the scene with Calvin and the brick is one of my favorites in the SM series. Sookie just so righteously pissed off at how terribly her brother has behaved. By the same token, we can’t really know if he was affected by Crystal’s murder because we’re limited to Sookie’s perceptions and she’s pretty down on her brother at that point.

I’m interested in what you said about the Anita Blake books. Guess I’ll have to see how she changes. From what I hear, or have glimpsed since I try to avoid spoilers, a lot of people stopped reading after book 10.

As for Crystal, I don’t see how the books made her horrible before that though. Yea, she spent too much money but I just don’t think getting addicted to shopping makes a character “worthless.” When Sookie met Crystal they didn’t like each other, but that doesn’t make me hate Crystal. I really thought the books were trying to say she is horrible because she cheated. Am I forgetting something nasty that Crystal did?

I’m not saying the books glorified Jason in any way. We know he’s a dick and Sookie agrees. However, no one called him worthless and if he died then Sookie would be pretty upset. Yea, we didn’t see how Jason dealt with Crystal’s murder, but at this point he has practically a new wife. Though, it is Jason, so we’ll see what happens with that new girlfriend.

I hardly have the trouble with Sookie that I have with other characters. I’m excited to see what happens with the Cluviel Dor.

SPOILER ALERT VIS A VIS THE SOUTHERN VAMPIRE (TRUE BLOOD) BOOKS AND POSSIBLY ALSO THE SERIES (I haven’t seen Season 3):

I was actually pleased with Harris’s treatment of the Bill/Sookie relationship in later books, because she provided a reasonable explanation for what was a very unrealistic love story at first. Kind of like in Twilight, where Edward gloms onto boring milquetoast Bella for no apparent reason, Bill just seemed to swoop down and fall for Sookie and put his life on the line all the time for her, providing no real reason for his passion for this human, out of all the humans he had to choose from over the many decades he’s been alive. We know why Sookie loves Bill (first vampire + he’s really nice to her + she can’t hear his thoughts) but not the other way around. When we find out later that 1) Sookie’s fairy blood makes her yummy to vampires; and 2) Bill was sent as an undercover vamp to research Sookie, it’s oddly pleasing. Like, a-ha! Reality bites, amores perros, thank you for acknowledging it.

I also love that Harris spends book-time describing Sookie’s everyday problems (needing a warm winter coat; paving her driveway). When Sookie perseverates on her driveway during a supernatural war, it can make her seem self-centered, but I think there’s not enough literature out there where such mundane trifles exist alongside the supernatural ones. Like, in Lord of the Rings, they never seem to get blisters from all that walking, or bug bites from the swamps, or accidentally scream a profanity when something scary happens, but I sure would.

If anything bothers me about Sookie’s it’s some of her moral stances, especially when she refuses money or help from people with power, even under dire circumstances. I could understand if Harris had explained this by having Sookie mention that being indebted to certain people with power doesn’t always turn out so great. But it seems like her objections come from a general moral stance of never accepting help from anybody, ever, because helping people is wrong if you’re not the one doing the helping. Boo-hiss on that.

Oh, I so agree on Sookie! I can’t read the books in part b/c of my dislike for her character.

I also think that Buffy was frequently the least interesting/sympathetic character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although I never actually disliked her. Just didn’t like her as much as I liked some of the Scoobies and other supporting cast sometimes.

I second other commenters on their enjoyment of Arrested Development because the characters are such terrible people.

I’m a huge True Blood fan and I agree with you that Sookie is not particularly likeable. She grates on my nerves, but I’m still a huge fan.

All the characters in my fave book, ‘The Great Gatsby’ are incredibly flawed, and all of them are dicks. Even Nick, the narrator, does selfish and dishonrable things. But that’s kind of the point of the novel. All the characters are floating in a sea of self-importance and self-absorption, and only bump into each other now and then to fuck up each others lives royally. I love the book, but I can admit that all the characters, even my beloved Gatsby, are kind of horrible. Same with Wuthering Heights. I think you can still enjoy a book, movie or tv show as long as you’re aware that the characters are hopelessly flawed…

In the case of True Blood, I fell more in love with the character of Bill Compton after I realized that he’s not a vampire boy scout, and in fact has many secrets and may even be pretty evil. I think the show is starting to acknowledge that Sookie is kind of a self-centered, ignorant bitch.

I have hated Sookie for a long time too. She’s just like Carrie Bradshaw in that she is self-absorbed, annoying and in constant need of some sort of rescuing. It would definitely be more enjoyable to watch the show if I didn’t hate her but I sort of look past it now and think the rest of the characters make up for her. I wondered if maybe the show did a bad job of interpreting her character but it sounds like she’s the same in the books.

I think Nancy Botwyn from Weeds is another good example of a really horrible protagonist. However, I accept it in her case and like her character because Nancy is just being who she is, unapologetically. Sookie just comes off as naïve and oblivious.

oh Carrie Bradshaw (shudder). She is a viewer avatar (she sashays her way through counter cultures and declares herself too cute or too cool for them (the polyamorous boyfriend one makes me grit my teeth)), a manic pixie (credit cards? Shoes? Squeeeeeky girl voice! bleh!). I think Sookie is also an author/reader avatar character, and those are never a good idea.

Of course it’s impossible for every character to be one who encompasses the viewer’s particular ideology but I think both of these characters possess these really irritating stereotypical female flaws. The flaws seem so simplistic, outdated and immature and I think that is what is so grating to the viewer.

I’m with you about Wuthering Heights. I can’t get past how awful I find all the characters and it does temper my enjoyment of the book.

I can’t make up my mind about Sookie. I don’t relate to her, and never really did, but I do enjoy her as a protagonist and always root for her even though she is annoying at times. Whilst I don’t relate to her, I do find her realistic and I think that this eases the pain for me – in this ridiculous world that Harris has created a heroine who is quite familiar. Her tendency to judge and make stupid decisions is pretty common amongst humankind, I’ve heard.

I also second deuteragonist in the Arrested Development love. I adore Gob and Lindsay and they are both fairly reprehensible characters; and I actually like them, not just enjoy them as characters.

I recently read The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch and I struggled to enjoy that primarily because I hated the main character and disliked all the secondary characters. The main character is such an ass and all the beautiful writing in the world couldn’t make me care about a book about him. I reviewed it here: http://acaseforbooks.blogspot.com/2011/05/25-sea-sea-by-iris-murdoch.html, if anyones interested!

I hated The House of Sand and Fog because I disliked all of the main characters so much. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to like one of them more than the others, or if I was supposed to hate them all. While the story was compelling, it’s one of the few books I actively recommend people don’t</i? read due to the main characters.

I also disliked the main character in Pred by Curtis Sittenfield the first time that I read it, but, re-reading it a few years later, I identified with her and enjoyed the book much more.

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