I stumbled on this article while having an exciting lunch of rice. Oh, how I could live on rice. But I digress.
The article addresses television casting: “Men can be all shapes and sizes on film; women must be hot.”
While this is probably true 99 percent of the time, I am very interested in cases that go against this pattern. Even where a show is unsuccessful (and maybe is a contributing factor to its lack of success – for example, the short-lived and frankly not very good What About Joan?, which starred the unconventionally/not typically attractive Joan Cusack as the lead and the very conventionally attractive Kyle Chandler as her lovely, doting, devoted boyfriend. If it were not a vehicle specifically for the already well-known Cusack, would the casting breakdown have said, “Normal, frumpy, almost-middle-aged woman – average, no one would take a second look woman”? And if it does highlight some non-mainstream casting, that is the whole point of the show – Less Than Perfect, Mike & Molly, Ugly Betty – and no one could really claim that America Ferrera is not attractive. She was just made to look like a misfit in the fashion-model world. Nor is it even fair to say that the stars of the aforementioned shows are not attractive – but the premises and way the roles are written emphasizes that they do not fit into some scripted beauty ideal).
Why is it that if that were the casting description, and the eventual casting decision, people would question, “Why would he be with her?” about the hot boyfriend, but no one really questions that hot women would choose TV’s less-than-attractive men. (And here we might hear the “men have power/money” argument, which could explain many older men-younger women connections on TV, but it does not explain the King of Queens or the According to Jim phenomenon. In real life, I suppose I meet a lot more women of all types who consider men as a whole package, so the looks are not the deciding factor. I suppose TV reflects real life in this way – men are not as likely to look beyond the surface. And on a general level, most people are judging on appearance.)