Television icon (and feminist favorite) Rue McClanahan passed away this morning at the age of 76. She was best known for her role as Blanche Devereaux on the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (though I probably didn't have to tell you that). Blanche was always my very favorite of the four Golden Girls. I loved her Southern wit and charm and her unabashed sexiness (oh, and I thought her flowing pajama robes were the height of glamor).
Though us feminist TV fans will miss Rue something fierce, she leaves behind a legacy that won't be soon forgotten. She was a pioneer when it came to representations of older women on television, never apologizing for her sexuality or her age. Thank you for being a friend, Rue McClanahan!
Ugh. Family Guy. It's a terrible, terrible show in my opinion. I still watch it regularly, out of long-held habit. But it's just. It's lazy, it's aesthetically not pleasing. It's not very funny. And it's offensive on an consistent, regular basis.
But for some reason, folks really like it, and Seth MacFarlane, its creator, seems particularly proud of it. It's currently in the midst of an Emmy campaign, and it is promoting itself by mocking Precious:
As The Office is a show about white people and men primarily; it is also a show about size-privileged people primarily. However, its focus on folks of size privilege is not myopic; of the regular cast, Kevin, Phyllis, and Stanley are all visibly fat. Discrimination against their size is not ignored, but portrayed in a responsible and progressive way. Unlike most primetime shows, these characters are nuanced, three-dimensional players with lives independent of and often counter to stereotypes; their fatness is not erased, but instead a value-neutral part of their life.
Image: Pam Halpert from The Office, in front of her watercolors
The Office is a show that focuses on men–four out the five stars are male. Nonetheless, it's one of my very favorite shows, and I think it has strong, likable, interesting female characters. It's launched the career of Mindy Kaling, who writes for the show and plays the totally hilarious Kelly Kapoor. And it's got Pam Halpert (formerly Pam Beesley), whom I like quite a bit. Over the series, she has grown quite assertive, a admirable quality not usually rewarded in women. But her early independent ambition for art has been abandoned so that her professional identity can be attached to her husband Jim Halpert's.
Image: Lost character Kate Austen played by Evangeline Lily
I was going to begin this post with the line "Kate is a divisive character among Lost fans", but I won't, because it's not true. The Lost fan community is, with some exceptions, united against Kate. Very few Lost fans are Kate fans, the way people are Ben fans or Juliet fans or Hurley fans. In fact, many fan discussions are rife with discussions of how much Kate sucks – and I must admit, I occasionally join in.
In a show with plot holes the size of my Hyundai, bad dialogue, and Jack "I'll Fix You Whether You Like It or Not" Shephard, why is Kate often the focal point for the problems of the show among the fan community? Is it poor writing? Misogyny? Disappointment at the Lost opportunity for an amazing strong female character? I talk to The Curvature and Feministe blogger Cara Kulwicki and fellow fans from ontd_Lost to try to figure it out.