And the winner goes to:
If inclusion were a sport, we just won the gold freaking medal in the inclusion Olympics. The Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy went to Melissa McCarthy for Mike & Molly. Fat activists and Size Acceptance folks everywhere cheered. That’s right. For 2011, we have a fat woman as the funniest woman on TV.
Now, I hated the first few shows of Mike & Molly. So did many other bloggers in the Fatosphere, far more eloquently than I (check out Red No. 3’s great recap). It felt like fat joke after fat joke. Of course two fatties can’t meet anywhere other than Overeaters Anonymous (*eye roll*). Of course the skinny, chain-smoking mom and sis gorge themselves on cake, while the good fatty runs on the elliptical machine.
But it also sort of pushed boundaries for the everyman. Instead of watching fatties punish themselves (a la Biggest Loser or infomercials on how losing weight finally let them find true love BS), we get to see actual fat people doing normal things. Fat people falling in love, dating, dealing with the insecurity every woman faces of having a date see her (GASP!) naked body for the first time. It sort of gives me hope for acceptance. Mike & Molly is getting picked up again and winning awards.
It’s easy to hate on the sweating fatties melting off fat before your eyes. It’s hard to shrug off the overweight, funny friend who is excited about love, or freaking out about her relationship problems.
Then I was bowled over when Margo Martindale won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her protrayal of Mags Bennet on Justified.
Fat and funny has been done before, but very few fat actresses are taken seriously. We’re the funny sidekick, not the focus of a drama. It is unfortunate that this talented actress was overlooked for so long , but so telling that she won her award on Sunday.
Not since the days of Roseanne have we had so much mainstream media exposure. In 2009, Gabourey Sidibe was nominated for just about every award possible for her portrayal of Claireece “Precious” Jones based on the novel Push by Sapphire (a truly harrowing read by the way, but oh-so-true in some cases… a week as a social worker in some inner-cities will toughen you and break your heart).
Glee, one of the top 10 shows on TV today by many measures, has not one, but two fairly realistic portrayals of fat characters in their main cast: Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink). With story-lines about them. And they are not there just to be the buffoon, like Kevin on The Office. They’re real people with real emotions dealing with real issues.
And what’s more mainstream than a Real Housewives or Jersey Shore-type reality show? I guess we have made it big… Big Sexy that is (sorry, horrible pun, I know). The show on TLC follows the lives of five plus-sized women involved in the fashion industry, and the everyday harassment they face. Modern Family has a fat, gay man on it, not eating his fabulous way through a pile of cakes, but dealing with being a stay-at-home dad (still fabulously though). And they, too, are winning awards, becoming, for a while at least, officially the best comedy on TV.
I’m not saying life is perfect, I know these are baby steps, but inclusion on TV, not cast as the dumb, fat friend, is how we break out of stereotypes. This is how the battle is won: one baby step (or Emmy) at a time. To win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, that’s what we aim for next. Now GO!