By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
I was going to write something about the controversy over the Girls episode “One Man’s Trash,” and specifically the arguments over whether Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson were a plausible couple. I decided what I wrote didn’t really work, and besides which a) There’s probably enough Girls discussion already, and b) The discussion of these issues tend to turn a writer into Rex Reed or, even worse, John Simon. (If you think people are unpleasant about Melissa McCarthy or Lena Dunham, just read that collection of Simon’s horrifically nasty comments about Liza Minnelli – we have a long way to go before we can match that guy for sheer hate.) So I’ll let that episode go for now.
But the discussion did illuminate something for me about our expectations when it comes to a character’s looks. We all know about the famous sexist double standard for looks in film and television. An ordinary-looking or overweight man is more likely to be paired with a beautiful woman, while the opposite pairing almost never happens. Even a woman with looks that are just unconventional – like Liza Minnelli, see above – will sustain the types of attacks that a Dustin Hoffman, say, doesn’t usually get once he becomes a star. But even though we’re more used to that kind of pairing, it still jars us more in fiction than it would in real life. Jason Alexander is married to a tall, good-looking woman, but it looked silly to us that George Costanza was going out with tall, good-looking women. Woody Allen’s ability to get women on the screen is more puzzling to us than his ability to get those same women in real life. And so on.
The main reason for this is that in real life there are many different reasons why people would get together, beyond looks – which, after all, are subjective. But the actors are often playing characters who Continue…