The fat friend: Hollywood’s new token character

Posted: June 1, 2011 in All, Movies, Prose, TV
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It seems everywhere you look, there’s a new token creeping into Hollywood and television. There will be a cast of lithe actors and actresses, and on the fringe of the group is the portly pal.

Yes, diversity in casting is sometimes a good thing. However, the real issue here is that there is only the one “fat friend.” Her weight, by the way, is a defining characteristic, much like I’ve written about with homosexuals

Where is it true that a group of friends has just one heavy-set person? Why aren’t there average sized people?

I had often noticed that when you see a street scene in a movie, there is a remarkable number of thin people walking around in the background. They’re all actors – of course they’re thin. Ignore the fact that obesity is on the rise. But I really started thinking about this after seeing trailers for “Bridesmaids” with Melissa McCarthy (who’s excellent in Mike and Molly).

I also read an interview with Blubberella actress Lindsay Hollister who was told once that she’s “too fat to play the fat friend.”

What I Learned: When writing a story with a large cast, make sure there are a healthy amount of people with average or larger builds. And don’t make their weight their defining characteristic.

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

  1. Monica says:

    Maybe you should’ve written your post after you actually watched Bridesmaids. The Maya Rudolph character, who’s the bride, is decidedly average and even a bit chubby (she was pregnant while filming). Wendi McLendon-Covey is also bigger-than-the-average-starlet as well. And the Melissa McCarthy character turns out to be not the “fat friend” played for laughs, but someone who is sure of herself, successful, intelligent, and helpful.

    • Maybe so. Maybe it’s a case of the trailer not doing the movie justice. Because the trailer really made it seem like the way I wrote things. (my friends who have seen it loved it.) But I would debate that Maya Rudolph is chubby. But maybe what you said “bigger-than-the-average-starlet” is really key. We can’t keep having toothpicks running around with a token non-toothpick person. I’d just like the average weight of characters to be bumped up 10 or 20 pounds.

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