I will confess to only haphazardly watching True Blood this season. I drifted in and out of episodes in a daze and only turned it into Tivo/Appointment television around episode seven or eight. So I missed some things and had to go visit my True Blood encyclopedia (otherwise known as a family member who never misses an episode and has read all the books and will murder me if I reveal their identity here) to have a lot of things elaborated upon. This encyclopedia was happy to note the differences between the show and the books and even happier to explain all the nuances of vampire society. There is a lot.

One of the better storylines of the season, and one of the few that actually managed to get me to show up for episodes was the developing bond between Pam and Tara. Pam turned Tara into a vampire at the beginning of the season after Tara took a bullet for Sookie and passed from this mortal plain. Then she abandoned her progeny because it’s Tara and nobody likes Tara (even though REMEMBER WHEN SHE WAS A LESBIAN CAGE FIGHTER AND THAT TIME SHE CAUGHT SAM BARKING IN HIS SLEEP AND WAS COOL WITH IT?). Both women have seen changes. They’ve grown into new roles. Pam lost Eric but gained Tara. Tara lost her brain but gained fangs and a penchant for leather. It was sweet.

And it was…confusing–and perhaps the best exploration of the very weird and incestuous nature of vampires. A relationship that’s been discussed and even portrayed before. Eric, in case anyone’s forgotten, was madly in love with his maker, Godric, and had a long term sexual relationship with Pam. Also earlier in the season he bumped uglies for ages with his “sister” Nora.

And critics and audiences were all non-plussed. The chaste nature of his feelings for Godric was romanticized like they were characters from an 18th Japanese novel. Nora and Eric weren’t REALLY related. They just shared a maker. And Pam and Eric…well that’s where my eyebrow is raising.

Because that was a relationship that was meant to supersede all modern notions of love. It was meant to be a relationship that went beyond familial and romantic love. One that cooled as Pam went further in one direction on the Kinsey scale and Eric fell in love with Sookie’s bedazzled vagina.

Where Jessica and Bill have been purely paternal in their relationship Eric and Pam were more like Bill and his own maker. Reminders that these are all, for the most part, adults and not actually related/prone to the horrors that actual incest bring. So I didn’t raise an eyebrow when Tara (now bisexual) and Pam shared many moments equally maternal and sexual. Yes. It was weird. It was incredibly hinky, but no different than that between Pam and Eric or Bill and his bendy maker.

Then in last night’s episode Tara behaved in an utterly human fashion and like a teased school girl got all huffy when Jessica asked if she had romantic feelings for Pam.

It seemed natural. A perfect course for the road they’d been set upon from the beginning of the season. Generally speaking Twitter and Tumblr seemed down with it. There were the rare notes of dissatisfaction, and even repulsion, from fans, but nothing too significant.

No it was the critics. Many just avoided talking about the development all together. Others were bored. Others confused. While none cried “incest” quite as loudly as fans it was definitely a marked departure from fan reactions. They seem grossed out/confused by the idea of Pam and Tara becoming more than just bitches who drinky snooty racists together.

It’s just odd isn’t it? Pam and Eric’s relationship didn’t raise eyebrows. It was accepted. Even a cause for delight. But when a virtually identical relationship is formed between two women there’s cause for concern. It’s odd that we seem more accepting of taboos when they still cling to heteronormativity, but as soon as they stray too far a limit is reached and what was quirky True Blood fun becomes “gross.”

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