Maenads in 21st Century Pop Culture

For any fan of the HBO television show True Blood there is no surprise that today I am going to focus on Maryann from season two.   The second season of True Blood has long been a favorite of mine due to the way they handled the maenad storyline!

The books that the television show is based on by Charlaine Harris also featured a maenad.   Personally I actually preferred the maenad storyline from the television show (a rarity as books are nearly always superior)!    So today I will be focusing on discussing the maenad story from True Blood, the show.

In the final episode of season one we meet Maryann.   At first the character seems to be just a helpful woman looking to take care of Tara.    It quickly becomes apparent that she is a very enthusiastic party animal.   Maryann often hosted fetes at the house that it was assumed that she owned.   The audience knows something is wrong when she admits to Tara the house was owned by her friend, and she needed a place to stay.   Tara, of course, invited her to stay at Sookie’s house while her and Bill are away in Texas.

There is a hint of what is coming in the third episode of season two when Sookie is attacked by a maenad, but the audience does not know the identity of this woman.   When Sookie and Bill travel to Texas the previous attack falls to the wayside.   At that point, Maryann had already begun gaining the trust of the townspeople of Bon Temps.   When she and her posse move into Sookie’s home it is not long before the raging parties begin again.    

Many of the town people of Bon Temps become drawn into the vortex of Maryann’s maenad powers!    The parties take place constantly, and sometimes for days on end.   During the parties the maenad powers alter the perceptions of those in attendance, and lead to the classic atrocities of Dionysian rituals.   We as an audience can see the eyes of the effected people turn pure black, and they lose all inhibitions.    Maryann used her powers to turn everyone around her into hedonists, and worse.   The only people in Bon Temps not under her thrall are Sam Merlotte (who as a shifter can resist, and also had a history with her), and Andy Bellefleur.

From the very beginning Sam and Andy wanted to expose Maryann for her violent acts.    Andy did not even know what was wrong with her, only that he did not trust her.    Sam met another shifter this season, who was a follower of Maryann.   She was a willing participant in all of Maryann’s parties and rituals.    Maryann had made her a true believer in the horned god!

By the end of the season Tara and her boyfriend Eggs are highly suspicious of all of the time they have been losing.   But, they alone are not able to break the thrall of Maryann’s maenad powers!   When Sookie, Bill, and Jason return they begin to help Sam and Andy in the fight against Maryann.    Since Maryann wanted to sacrifice Sam in a ritual to bring forth Dionysus, they use this as a decoy (pretending to give up Sam)!

Of course once it is proven that the horned god is not coming, and Maryann loses her belief, she loses everything!   It turns out in the world of True Blood maenads only became immortal and empowered because of their obsessive belief!  

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on maenads in pop culture!   Let me know you opinions in the comments section below!

Further Watching

  • True Blood (2008-2014) ~Season 2, but really the whole series is great!