June 26, 2011 7:49pm PT by Jethro Nededog
'True Blood' Premiere: EP Alan Ball on the Big 'Gay' Reveal, 'It Was Time'
[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Sunday’s “She’s Not There” episode.]
True Blood’s fourth season premiere presented us with a host of twists and turns for its characters and one of the biggest surprises to come out of it was Tara’s (Rutina Wesley) apparent sexuality shift. The plot twist has been out for a couple weeks now, but the character’s identity had fans guessing.
Wesley tells The Hollywood Reporter that she’ll be a bit relieved once the cat’s out of the bag. “I’m really excited, because people keep asking me about it and I can’t talk about it and it drives me crazy,” she says.
Last Season, Tara found herself in a deep depression over the death of her lover, Eggs (Mehcad Brooks), and then trapped in a violent affair with vampire Franklin Mott (James Frain). After discovering that pretty much everyone around her was connected somehow to the supernatural freakiness that is Bon Temps, she left town. It was that breaking point that informed the production team that it was time for a change.
“We felt like it was time for Tara to stop being the victim,” Creator Alan Ball tells us. “It was time for Tara to really take charge of her life in a way that would be surprising and would give us some fun places to go story wise. We thought, ‘If somebody has been through something like that, maybe they would be prompted to create a whole new life and identity.’ And why not?”
Wesley says she was surprised at first by her character’s storyline this season, but it began making sense to her. “After I thought about it, I was like I can see that,” she tells us.
“She’s got some new skin so to speak and she’s living life to its fullest and I think that’s a beautiful thing honestly to see a person go through that sort of change,” she adds. “Without putting any labels to it, she sort of fallen in love and that’s OK, you know. I just think that’s amazing.”
Tara’s storyline does open a can of worms when it comes to gay portrayals on television. After all, the series has gone a long way in training its viewers to see vampire sexuality as fluid and still some viewers have found issue with the show’s “barrage of homosexuality” as Philadelphia Eagles player, Todd Herremans, tweeted last August. And that was definitely discussed by True Blood’s producers and writers.
“Yes, we did talk about what that meant,” executive producer Alexander Woo says. “Was she always curious? Did she always have sexual interest in men and women? I think we figured that we certainly were careful not to suggest that her life and the course of her life drew her into a relationship with another woman. But I think what Tara does at the beginning of this year is that she sees an opportunity to start completely fresh, start completely new and not being tied down with all these patterns that created so much suffering.”
Wesley tells us that she really only worries about one message her character’s lesbian relationship may send to viewers. “My main thing is I don’t think it’s because my character has such bad luck with men,” she says.
“I hope that people can understand that,” she continues. “Because I know people, of course, are just going to go to the ‘Oh, they’re just doing that, because she had that relationship and all of a sudden she’s gay.’ No, no, no, it’s not that. It’s just something that happened and she ended up being open to it, which I think is really cool. It’s nice to see Tara a little more Zen and open to things. And she just seems more carefree about life. It feels good to see her smile for a change.”
So, that of course brings us to the question of is "gay" even the right word to call Tara at this point? “I’m not entirely sure that Tara is gay,” Woo says. “In the case of Tara, she has decided to take on an entirely new identity which also includes sexual identity. We’ll see how well that works.”
And Wesley’s personal distaste for placing labels on anyone extends to her character, as well. “I think people are who they are,” she says. “You love who you love and it doesn’t matter.”
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg.