Thursday, November 4, 2010

Notes on Pop Culture: Media Expectations of Women, 'In Treatment' & Deeply Written TV Characters Wreck My Enjoyment of Films

Image credit: CBS
Media Expectations of Women

Did you hear about the recent controversy involving two twentysomething Glee actresses posing provocatively for GQ while wearing their panties and sucking on lollipops? Or about a Marie Claire writer’s hateful attack on CBS’ Mike & Molly in which the writer said she doesn’t want to watch overweight people walk across the room never mind kiss one another on a primetime television sitcom. Or did you happen to read the New York Times’ hard-hitting analysis of female politicians’ choice of attire?

My pop culture and politics column this week took on all three of those issues and concluded that, collectively, they send a pretty lousy message: That young female celebrities have to debase themselves sexually in order to get media attention and then suffer the intense criticism for doing so (no such requirement for young male celebs), that having overweight men in leading roles on TV shows doesn’t prompt ugly attacks though a leading overweight woman does, and that no matter how a female politician dresses she’s going to be attacked by fashion writers as either dressing too “mannishly” or too sexy in “rump-hugging” skirts. It’s a fairly grumpy piece, if I do say so myself.

In Treatment

HBO’s In Treatment . . . we’re now in week two, eight sessions into Paul Weston’s third season. And I’m just as enthralled as I was in the first.

Of the new patients, I’m most intrigued by Frances, played by Debra Winger, and by Paul himself facing off against his new therapist Adele as he’s increasingly fearful that he has Parkinson’s, like his father.

This is becoming my favorite indulgence of the week, watching Paul and his patients. I find that I do absolutely no multi-tasking (no BlackBerry, no laptop, etc.) while this is on because I want to catch every glance and gesture.

Deeply Written TV Characters Wreck My Enjoyment of Films

After reading a Boston Globe article published the weekend Mad Men’s season finale aired, I realized the truth in what the writer, Matthew Gilbert, was saying: All of these complicated, anti-hero characters on cable dramas -- Don Draper from Mad Men, Tommy Gavin from Rescue Me, Paul from In Treatment, Tony Soprano from The Sopranos, Walter White from Breaking Bad, etc. -- have been so nuanced and deep that movie characters, by comparison, seem pretty shallow. I then proceeded to wonder how much better, say, The Town, would’ve been had it been a cable TV drama (instead of a film) on my recent CliqueClack TV post. And I was really entertained by The Town.

Image credit: CBS.


Belle said...

Interesting post. I read the Marie Claire article and she has added an apology. It is too bad we judge people on their outward appearance. What a bad example to our children.

Meredith O'Brien said...

Thanks for weighing in Belle.

I saw the apology but it was a little too late, as far as I was concerned. She'd already done her damage.