Can plus size people/characters on television be taken seriously?
After reading and watching the 1980s sitcom Roseanne for this week, this is the question that came to mind. Roseanne Conner truly was and still is (to quote Professor Dalton) a “breath of fresh air.” Her presence on television not only challenged ideas of class normally depicted on television, but also challenged the norms of the physicality of women that seemed to have developed through the years of television. Roseanne was not super skinny (like her predecessors), but a healthy and more normalized depiction of the typical American woman’s size. In 2016 this remains the same; according to a University of Texas study, the average American women is between a size 12-14! Who would think that with all the ultra skinny celebrities and models advertising? Really is an astounding statistic! However, often times these aren’t the size women we see on television shows that we are suppose to take seriously.
Although there are definitely exceptions to this thought, more so than not, larger women are the funny ones. Take for example: Melissa McCarthy. She is a plus sized woman and in nearly every role, she plays the clumsy, goofy, sometimes crude, and general comedian. It is very interesting to also look into the idea of these women often being the sidekick within the television show or movie. For example, Melissa McCarthy’s character, Sookie, in the popular television show Gilmore Girls is definitely not the main character, and serves as Lorelai’s best friend. Sookie is known for her clumsiness and comedic relief throughout the show. Another actress that takes on this sidekick role is Rebel Wilson, in her many roles in television and movies. Wilson typically plays the funny, ditsy, and often crude character. Why is it that she being a larger woman, and actually the median size of Americans, is placed in such roles? Can there be a larger woman taken seriously? I hope to see a more diverse depiction of the NORMAL sized woman in television. -Katie Nelson