Friday, January 07, 2005

ON THE PREPONDERANCE OF DUMPY GUYS WITH HOT WIVES: I am glad this guy at Slate picked up on something I've noticed: there are a lot of fat guys married to petite, attractive women in sitcomland (such as it is in the year 2005.) Read it, fat boy:

In the current sitcom lineup, by contrast, several shows pair extremely attractive women, who are often clad in plunging tops and tight jeans suitable for a Maxim photo spread, with TV husbands who are not only not studly, but downright fat, and a couple who are not only not mensches, but are ugly on the inside, too. On The King of Queens (CBS, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET), smoldering working-class babe Carrie (Leah Remini) is paired with beer-gutted Doug (Kevin James). On Grounded for Life (WB, Fridays, 8:30 p.m. ET), the lovely, voluptuous Claudia (Megyn Price—my favorite), is paired with the dumpy and scraggly-bearded Sean (Donal Logue). Perhaps the most jarringly incongruous couple appears on Still Standing (CBS, Mondays, 8 p.m. ET), in which Judy (legendary '80s hottie Jamie Gertz) is married to the surly Bill (rotund, high-voiced English actor Mark Addy, whose character sounds just a little too English to be from Chicago). Bill is a scurrilous (and not terribly funny) creation, unpleasant even to listen to.

In addition to their girth, a signal characteristic of these men is immaturity. Most of them are unable to master the simplest daily tasks. A recent episode of Grounded for Life was propelled by Sean's inability to take a phone message while a typical King of Queens knee-slapper was fueled by Doug's inability to keep his hands off a co-worker's Koosh ball, which he, of course, loses. And virtually every episode of According to Jim is sparked by Jim's selfishness and impulsiveness—he fights with Santa and the next-door neighbor; he pouts about having to give up his vices so Cheryl can get pregnant. Indeed, the promixity of these men to their childhood selves is often directly invoked. In a recent episode of King of Queens, for example, Doug's dad visits for a model train convention, which dredges up bitter memories about how as a child, Doug was not allowed—I am not making this up—to play with his dad's train. When Dad is called away from the convention and Doug offers to fill in for him, Dad is still reluctant to let his dumb-ass son work the controls. (And when he does, Doug promptly destroys the train set, along with its fake mountain landscape setting. See what happens when you play with Daddy's train?)

Later adding, "On According to Jim and Still Standing, the single sibling is an attractive but romantically hopeless sister of the wife. That's the choice: fat guy vs. spinsterhood." This is the kind of article I would have loved to have written, except I've barely watched any of these shows--I have merely noticed that Jim Belushi's tv wife is nine times more attractive than he is, and there are similar pairs in sitcomland. And in adland--remember those beer ads with Cedric the Entertainer matched with a hot chick? And in animated sitcomland--Peter Griffith and Lois, who are derived from Homer and Marge. And Homer and Marge would be the early version of the fat husband/thin wife syndrome, except they were copied from the Flintstones--who were of course copied off the Honeymooners. So this isn't actually a new thing; it's just sort of more prominent now, though that's debatable. I certainly am not watching enough teevee to make a strong case either way--I can barely keep up with my Netflix.

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