Bullets and Bracelets —
It’s amazing the change that 36 years can bring.
This weekend, our family went to the library, dragging along our massive tote. Each visit, we get about a 500 books to read at bedtime, as well as whatever movies, games and audiobooks catch my eye.
As I waited to check out, I noticed in the DVD section by the front desk that they had the original “Wonder Woman” series starring Lynda Carter. I got the DVD for our two girls, Linny (6) and Lottie (4 in 6 days). Linny loves superheroes; she went as Spiderman for Halloween 2011 and loves her Spiderman backpack. When she told me that some of her classmates told her that Spiderman was for boys, I told her to respond that Spiderman is for kids who like Spiderman.
But given the overwhelming number of male superheroes, I’ve wanted her to know that there are awesome female superheroes out there as well. So, I got “Wonder Woman” to give her another option to idolize.
As we watched the pilot episode this weekend, I couldn’t help but observe that the corset Lynda Carter wore made her hips look huge by 2013 Hollywood standards.
Indeed, photos from Carter’s role as 1972 Miss World USA contestant seem strange to me.
Am I the only one who thinks she look a little on the heavy side for a Miss World contestant? Her hips and thighs seem positively zaftig, especially when compared to the 2012 Miss World USA, Claudine Book.
Lynda Carter is not fat by any stretch of the imagination, but we live in an era when any visible evidence of body fat located anywhere except the breasts and butt is considered overweight, as evidenced by the howls of body snark lobbed at Lady Gaga.
Just try to imagine what those same critics would say today about the way Carter fills out her red, white and blue… um… swimsuit.
So it’s no surprise that when NBC decided to reboot Wonder Woman for the short-lived TV show, they decided to go with Adrianne Palicki, an actress with a more “modern” body type.
When casting, it seems the producers wanted to redistribute Wonder Woman’s weight from her hips to her boobs.
In the span of just three decades, the media’s definition of “acceptable fat” has been radically reduced. Thanks to her perfectly natural hips and thighs, Lynda Carter wouldn’t qualify for the Sweet Corn Queen pageant, let alone Miss World USA.
And that’s where we are as a society: stuck with a media that has gradually redefined “beauty” as the woman with the least amount of body fat and the most amount of boobs.
Fortunately, our daughters aren’t yet aware of any of this arbitrary standard, and have chosen to focus instead on what a badass Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman is. After the pilot episode, Linny and Lottie took turns being WW and Nazi spy, as they chased each other through the house.
But even though the Hollywood body standard has changed dramatically, and depressingly, there are signs elsewhere that perfection is no substitute for talent. Even better, there are shows where size is no reflection of character.
Recently, Veronica and I stumbled across a show produced by Hulu called “Rev.” Although you’ll have to suffer through commercials, it’s well worth watching. The show revolves around Reverend Adam Smallbone’s nearly-empty London church and his struggle to maintain his faith in the midst of broad social apathy toward religion.
Sounds heavy, but it’s not. Considering it’s produced by Hulu, my expectations were quite low. So I was pleasantly surprised by what we actually found. While not a sitcom in the “Father Ted” tradition, it’s nonetheless a funny and insightful examination of the religious life. Unlike Fr. Ted, who comes across as equal parts inept and corrupt, Fr. Adam (Tom Hollander) represents a sincere, but flawed clergy that struggles with faith on a day-to-day basis, while striving to set a moral example.
We also see Fr. Adam’s flock through the lens of humanity and compassion that he carries with him. Refreshingly, that compassionate view extends to the fat characters as well. Whether he’s gushed over by parishioner Adoha (Ellen Thomas), served by Gemma the barmaid (Lu Corfield), or begged to perform an “exorcism” for 70-something Joan (Sylvia Syms), Fr. Adam (and the show itself) shows absolutely no judgement or scorn toward its heavier characters.
It’s as if the show’s creators (Hollander and James Wood) wrote the entire script, then cast the parts based on talent, rather than writing the parts about the weight of the actors they wanted and casting accordingly. None of the fat characters are caricatures. None of the storylines involve demonstrable acts of gluttony or sloth. These are simply people in Fr. Adam’s parish who have problems… oh, and they happen to be fat.
Refreshing, I know.
But best of all, Fr. Adam’s wife is average-sized. The incredibly talented Olivia Colman plays Alex, the solicitor and vicar’s wife who tries to balance her needs as a spouse with the work of her husband, which often involves a host of unsavory characters descending upon their home in need of help.
Colman also co-starred in the brilliant “Peep Show” (which you can see on Hulu or Netflix), and was also the love interest in that show despite not being supermodel thin. Colman is lovely and charismatic in all the characters she inhabits, and it was a delightful surprise to see her starring in “Rev.” as well.
So, if you’re tired of the same ol’, same ol’, I highly recommend “Rev.” as a show bursting at the seams with humanity, compassion and understanding. It’s also a blissfully silent commentary on how fat people are more than the sum of their tissue.