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Pudgy Pals: Melissa McCarthy Plays Sookie, 01.23.01 ...

Are big girls the next big thing on TV?

Fat chance.

One Camryn ``This is for all the fat girls!'' Manheim is just about all Hollywood can squeeze on to the small screen weighted down with skinnies: Ally McBeal's Calista Flockhart, Portia De Rossi and Lucy Lui, The Practice's Lara Flynn Boyle, the fleshless Friends, etc.

Even so, Manheim's Ellenor Frutt doesn't rate any romance.

Her one affair turned out to be with a head-chopping psycho - and, this season, she got pregnant without any sperm donor showing up with flowers or chocolates.

Sure there's also Mimi (Kathy Kinney), the pestilential personality on The Drew Carey Show. But she's a clown, from her lurid eye shadow right down to her garish garb.

Poor old Carmen (Sara Rue) on Popular, tries, tries, tries to be one of the cliqueish Glamazons only to be repeatedly rejected because she's fat. Even when she makes Homecoming Queen, it's because of a pity campaign.

Then, last week on Boston Public, a fat girl finally found acceptance - after being hammerlocked on to the boys' wrestling team by a ``sympathetic'' coach.

They'll all stay losers - until they lose weight, of course.

But then, if pop culture represented more womanly women, it would be tough for advertisers to push their miracles in a bottle (makeup, hair colour and thermogenic fat-busting pills), not to mention the diet programs now hawking their post-New-Year's-resolutions hard sell.

Funny, because the season was plump with promise, thanks to two charming new shows.

On the Gilmore Girls, leading lady Lorelai (Lauren Graham) has a big best friend, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) the chef.

And, on Ed, who is best friend to Ed's object of obsession, Carol (Julie Bowen)? Why it's massive Molly (Lesley Boone)!

But don't get too excited.

You've heard of the token woman? The black? The gay?

These are the token fat girls.

Both Sookie and Mollie exist mostly to offer advice to their lovelorn, emaciated friends. Pretty weird considering neither of them ever have dates.

In fact, two episodes ago, Gilmore's Lorelai attacked Sookie for remarking on her relationships, accusing her of having no experience. As a result, Sookie asked out her produce supplier, an invitation he accepted.

It was a TV miracle.

But then, last week, what TV giveth, TV tooketh away.

Turned out that Sookie is so pathetic, she can't even do her own face. To the rescue comes Lorelai, who gives her a hideous mother-of-the-ethnic-bride hairdo, the kind only TV fat girls always wear on their first dates.

T'was ever thus.

Throughout screen history, the sexy stars constantly had pudgy pals named Millie or Madge who were always played by Alice Brady or Thelma Ritter.

In the 1950s, the only way Vivian Vance could be Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy was by staying 20 pounds heavier than Lucille Ball.

More recently, we've seen Rosie O'Donnell play second big banana to Meg Ryan (Sleepless In Seattle) and Madonna (A League Of Their Own) while Janeane Garofalo was the hound to Uma Thurman's kittenish character in The Truth About Cats And Dogs.

As Garofalo told The Star in 1996, ``It is annoying that Hollywood likes to make those divisions and perpetuate those stereotypes - and I am as guilty as anyone for having done it.''

Now comes news that Kate Winslet (Titanic) must shed 50 pounds in order to relaunch her career. True, she's chubbed out with motherhood but hers is the sort of lush beauty that artists have celebrated for ages.

Chances are, the millions of young girls, even the overweight ones, who wanted desperately to be Rose to Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack would have nothing but contempt for Winslet's figure.

Unless of course Winslet were to withdraw from the Hollywood anorexia Olympics and find a place as the unthreatening, neutered fat friend.
Credit: The Toronto Star

Please note: These opinions belong to Antonia Zerbisias, Entertainment Columnist for The Toronto Star. They do not reflect the opinions of myself (Heidi). If you wish to comment on the above article, you can e-mail The Toronto Star's Entertainment department here: [email protected]

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