Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TV Shows Featuring Fat People


What’s the fascination? I’ve never understood. More and more TV and cable channels seem to be adding shows about fat people. Apparently there’s some new comedy on CBS about an obese police officer and his hefty girlfriend or wife. I see the promotional announcements for it when I’m watching that network. NBC has that show about extremely obese people who are yelled at by a trim woman – “The Biggest Loser”, which I’m given to understand is one of the most popular shows on TV.

Cable outlets have long had such shows, with A&E and Discovery leading the pack with a parade of shows about people who are obese or have some other affliction like hoarding or some strange compulsion like eating only French fries.

Having fought the “battle of the bulge” nearly all my adult life, I’m not sure why other people are so fascinated by watching fat people struggle with the challenges of daily living, or enjoy seeing them hounded by slim and fit “trainers” exhorting them to lose weight.

My baser self says these shows are popular because some people who are not obese feel morally superior to people who are, and they watch these shows about fat people to laugh derisively at them. There are still plenty of people who believe obesity is related only to will-power, and is an effect of being lazy. Fat-hatred is the only remaining form of discrimination which is not taboo. Fat jokes are OK, particularly when made by fat people. Sort of like a certain word that starts with “n”.

For example, it’s not at all uncommon on social media, if someone announces a vacation or some sort of air travel, for someone else to post “hope you don’t have to sit next to a fat person!” Substitute the word “black” or “retarded” or “old” and you’ll get big-time pushback. But it’s OK to make fat jokes.

This sort of stuff doesn’t bother me very much; I learned a long time ago there are a lot of really stupid people in the world, who can only feel superior by making someone else out to be inferior. But my disgust-meter pegged into the red zone yesterday when I saw a promo for a new show about fat MIDGETS on one of the cable channels I was watching. Fat midgets.

Now that IS going too far.

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  1. Interesting angle. I guess I look at it from the other side. I think the networks are programming TO people of size. Not unlike the race in the 80s to spawn programs with primarily African American casts, networks are trying to appeal to niche demographics, hoping that people that resemble the cast will watch.

    The fascinating concept within my conceit, though, is what took the networks so long? African Americans make up less than 15% of the American population. 73% of us are overweight (including me).

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