Whether it was Skyler on Breaking Bad, Rita on Dexter, Lori on The Walking Dead, or Margaret on Boardwalk Empire, TV wives often seem to be on the receiving end of a lot of hate, even when their on-screen husbands are often guilty of much worse crimes. So it was not altogether surprising when many Sons of Anarchy fans set their sights — and vitriol — on Jax Teller’s wife Tara.
Granted, she faked a pregnancy and a miscarriage to trick Jax into signing a restraining order against his own mother. And granted, she was doing this to get her sons away from the dangerous world of SAMCRO, and, it seems, their father. But is removing the boys away from such an environment such a bad thing? Is Tara just the latest victim of another sexual double-standard, in which female characters are held to a different standard than the male protagonists to which they are married?
We spoke to the woman who plays Tara, Maggie Siff, on Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) this morning and asked her about fan reaction to her character’s misdeeds, and viewer reaction to such female characters in general. “I really try not to read those message boards because they make me break out in hives,” said Siff. “But I do have some sense of what’s out there.” She then offered the following thoughts:
“I think it’s a really interesting conversation. I think these shows are always set up so we follow a protagonist and the story is very intricately built around caring for them in some way. And so anybody who runs counter to that is going to run into the problem of people turning on them. But I also think there are pretty deep gender cultural issues that have to do with a certain kind of fantasy of male and female roles, and a certain kind of fantasy around this anti-hero — the man who does terrible, terrible things but who we root for anyway because it’s an enactment of an adolescent male fantasy that people take great pleasure in seeing played out. And people who run counter encounter a lot of hostility. I think it’s the hostility that’s the most disturbing thing — the amount of vehemence or anger or righteousness that people can feel when they say, “She should be shot. She should be killed.’” That’s the thing that’s most startling and disturbing, when you really sit down and think about it.”
What will happen to Tara? Tonight’s season 6 finale of Sons of Anarchy may hold the answer. But perhaps as interesting as how it unfolds on screen will be the fan reaction to what they see. To hear Siff’s comments for yourself, click on the video player below. Also, click here to listen to Siff’s comments about the evolution/devolution of Tara this season.