Monday, March 24, 2008

When TV is stupid

I caught a few minutes of Unhitched last night on Fox. I wish I hadn't.

The Tantra subplot was actually kind of funny...although I can neither confirm nor deny how accurate it might be. What really bothered me was the subplot where Rashida Jones's character Kate keeps encountering a female co-worker naked in the gym locker room

I think that many people would find that awkward in and of itself; however, Kate had to go into detail later with her friends about how disgusting the older woman's body is.

Now, I love pop culture, obviously. All too often, though, it's used to try to make women self-conscious about being anything other than the ideal. All too often, it tries to enlist women to judge each other. It is not impossible to imagine the same subplot with a naked man, but it seems less likely. More to the point, that is not how the story was written

As if that weren't enough, once Kate finally confronts her colleague with her discomfort, the other woman breaks down crying. She confides that she feels repulsive, that her body is why she's divorced, and that she's starved for physical contact of any kind. It ends, of course, with an uncomfortable, arms-only hug.

All of this is supposed to be funny.

Guess what? It isn't.

There's really nothing all that unusual about the woman in question. She looks like--if not "better than"--any number of middle-aged ladies you might pass on the street. So I can comfort myself with the knowledge that the writers of Unhitched are out of touch with mainstream America. Most people don't see each other this way...except when they do; except when they've drunk too deeply of this kind of poison, which is as endemic in advertising and popular music as it is in Story.

What's more, to the extent that anyone does go without the physical affection that they need, for any reason, it hardly strikes me as comical. Watching the woman's pain was disturbing to me. I wonder what it says that the audience was expected to find it funny. This is the kind of mean-spiritedness that passes for honesty on many sitcomes these days.

Jones was better off on The Office , even if Jim is better of with Pam.

Thanks for letting me unhitch my high horse for a moment.

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