On True Blood
Home is Where the Bar Is
By Maria Lima
SAM: Damn it, Maryann. This is my bar. These are my people.
–“Keep this Party Going” (2-2)
Every TV show has one: that place that when you go there, you’re part of the club, one of the gang, an insider–a home away from house, a place where you feel comfortable, whether diner, bar or pool hall. Cheers, the popular 1990s comedy, revolved around a Boston bar while Friends characters hung out at Central Perk, a coffee house. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you’d often find the officers, residents and visiting aliens at Quark’s, and on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the place to be was Ten Forward. In True Blood, that homey place is Merlotte’s, the local neighborhood family-oriented bar where the food is fabulous (as is the cook), the staff is amazing (in more than one way), and the customers? Well, depending on the night, it’s either feast, famine, or war. And don’t forget–at Merlotte’s, everybody knows your name . . . and what you’ve been up to.
TV hangouts like Merlotte’s or Cheers act as a sort of focused lens for an ongoing series, particularly those with ensemble casts. They concentrate the events, the characters, and their reactions, growth, and change. Not only do we, the audience, experience the lives of the primary characters, we also get a chance to spend time with the “other guys” (Lafayette, Terry, Andy, Arlene, Hoyt). Perhaps one of the most fascinating roles …