Lafayette Reynolds

Written by @EllieDangerous
‘True Blood’ was a hot bloodbath filled with redeemable sinners like Lafayette Reynolds, who is played with √©lan and in gold pants by Nelsan Ellis. Lafayette is a flashy flash cook who’s quite happy with his life until the vamps take over. In his character we find much of what ‘True Blood’ claims to tackle, from racial and sexual prejudice to the dangers of drugs and religion. But hold up there, sugar boo boo. This post isn’t about what Lafayette represents; it’s about Lafayette himself, and how he tests the concepts of ordinary and extraordinary.

Spoiler Alert
It’s beat into us from the beginning that an ordinary life is exactly what our hero, Sookie Stackhouse, wants. But her idea of a normal life really is pretty normal. Think white picket fence. Lafayette, on the other hand, prefers what he considers ordinary, which includes dealing drugs, rocking a tight shimmering vest, and kicking back in an apartment filled with creepy religious idols.

Compared to Sookie’s idea of happiness, Lafayette’s is kind of off the wall; but his magic trick is that this doesn’t slam a door in our faces. A lot of people love Lala. And those people aren’t all shimmery and druggy. Even if we do want the white picket fence (and that’s fine), Lafayette is one of our favourite citizens of Bon Temps, because despite being so extraordinary in his ordinariness he’s often way more relatable than the rest of them.

Yeah so maybe we don’t call our best friends hookahs, but we can probably relate to that fearless playfulness and rude affection. “You go ahead on, hooker, with your badass”, he says to Sookie when she refuses to toe the line. “Good for you. It ain't possible to live unless you crossin' somebody's line.”

And while not everyone grabs life by the crotch and offers it an attitude and an illegal high, Lala’s confidence is an enviable pleasure.

As with all characters, if that’s all there was to Lafayette he’d get boring eventually, even if he is funny as hell. Which he is. But he undoubtedly has some depth, and we want to swim in it. He’s got strength and poise, standing up for himself and for others, but he also has a vulnerable side that he finds difficult to show. It’s so often the way with seemingly expressive people. Even his family, like Tara (who has her own damn struggles), fails to see it.

But Jesus does. Jesus is Lafayette’s love interest introduced in season two, and he has a different kind of confidence to Lala: emotional confidence. Through Jesus he learns to fall in love, and of course it isn't easy. For the first time we see Lafayette shy and unsure; he employs nervous smirking as a defence mechanism. It's far more interesting than watching him being possessed by a Mexican demon, which totally happens.

Seeing vulnerability in a tough soul is always fun, and his early horror in the Fangtasia basement is just a taste of that. But he adapts to the shocks, just like he adapts to everything. He even takes the rise of the vamps in his stride, selling their blood as a new addictive stimulant, and he rises to the entrepreneurial challenges that come with that. This is his extraordinary life. He’s smart and steady, weighed down extra by the problems of Tara, his homophobic mother, and half this inbred, superhuman town. “Life ain't not having problems”, after all. “It’s about being able to deal with the ones you got.”
I'm a good dancer, you've seen it on my site. Shit, I'd get up there and move earth and heaven Go-Go style.
Tara: "Well, obviously I can't."
Lafayette: "You can and you will, if I gotta drag your narrow ass through this world kicking and screaming. Buddha wasn't lying when he said life is suffering.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 10 September 2015
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