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.
In the first post in this series, I looked at how white and nonwhite characters in representation and death on the Island at the center of Lost. While the Island is the focus of Lost, flashbacks and other off-island plots are the main way in which the show develops individual characters, and these stories deserve individual analysis.In this post, I'll be looking at the other narrative side of this complex show: off-island action, in flashbacks, flashforwards, and sideways flashes, with help from my friend and fellow Lost fan, Renee Martin of Womanist Musings.
Representation is not necessarily anti-racism, and Lost's framing and depiction of nonwhite characters is often violent and damaging. A pertinent example of this in the current, last season came two weeks ago in the episode "The Candidate", in which Sun, Jin, and Sayid–three out of four of the remaining characters of color from the original cast - were killed within the span of a few minutes so white characters could live.