Then and Now: Comparisons of this year’s Mike and Molly to 1988’s Roseanne
2010: Mike and Molly–Weight part of characterization and plot for plus-sized characters
By Lisa Respers France, CNN
October 20, 2010 11:16 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — Can plus-sized actors have starring roles in which their weight isn’t a major part of the character or story line?
In an era when plus-sized, Academy Award-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe stirs negative and positive buzz by appearing in fashion magazines, weight continues to be a major topic in Hollywood and one that often creeps into story lines.
1988: The Connors’ Storyline Didn’t Focus on Weight The Connors were constantly facing money problems as they both worked in blue-collar jobs–in factories, hanging sheetrock, running a motorcycle shop, and eventually owning their own diner where they served “loose-meat” sandwiches. Their parenting style was often sarcastic, bordering on scornful. Once, when the kids left for school, Roseanne commented, “Quick. They’re gone. Change the locks.” But caustic remarks such as these were always balanced by scenes of affection and support so that the stability of the family was never truly in doubt. Much as in its working class predecessor, All in the Family, the Conner family was not genuinely dysfunctional, despite all the rancor.
And then there is the Marie Claire Blogger….
Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?)
October 25, 2010 9:00 AM by Maura Kelly
“…..So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room – just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair. ” Kelly tries to atone in the comments by saying her remarks are lingering effects of her previous history of anorexia. “Though I don’t think of myself as anorexic any more, being freaked out by obesity to the insensitive, even cruel, point that I was is certainly a vestige of the anorexic mindset; maybe so was being righteous about how easy it is to lose weight. (Because once I lost an extreme amount of weight, of course — about half my body weight — etc.).” I can personally attest to the mental havoc that eating disorders wreak. Not only do you have no concept of what you as a person look like, you really don’t see other people accurately either. And the crazy doesn’t go away just because you start eating again.
This is a vivid insight into the prejudice that people who do not fit the “cultural” norm for size in today’s world face. The eating disorders treatment field has advanced vastly since 1988 but it seems the idealization of size keeps getting more distorted and even cruel; are we fighting a battle we can win when we talk about the cultural influence on weight and fear of fat and its backlash in the form of the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia?