Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Sasha Torres


This thesis is an in-depth analysis of racial discourse surrounding HBO’s True Blood and its reoccurring Black female character Tara Thornton. More specifically, it addresses how Tara’s character and the use of ironic racism complicate essentialist definitions of race and common representations of Black women on television. This thesis employs a Black feminist framework to perform a textual analysis of True Blood and evaluate racial discourse surrounding the program in American news columns and high-traffic online message boards. True Blood's high ratings, print media coverage and active fan communities point to its impact on contemporary popular discourse. Thus its depiction of Black women and “Black” culture in America have the potential to reconfigure or perpetuate dominant media codes or cultural assumptions associated with this marginalized population. True Blood’s use of Southern Gothic narrative conventions to address homosexuality, gender roles and class structures in the United States prove successful, but racial commentary is mostly unacknowledged by entertainment journalists and fans alike. Though True Blood has made significant advances in American cable television by integrating numerous racialized bodies into its narrative, creator Alan Ball’s use of ironic racism muddies his attempt at provocative or transgressive programming. Teachable moments or opportunities for cultural revision available due to Tara’s strong presence in the narrative are rarely articulated in a meaningful manner. Instead, True Blood provides racially insensitive images for viewers and reinforces common stereotypes of Black women in the United States



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