Fat People on TV: the 2016 edition

I haven't done this series in a while and frankly, it's because there have not been many fat people on TV lately.

With #oscarssowhite last year, and minorities of all stripes fighting for representation, you are starting to see more different types of characters being shown in TV and movies. Sometimes, that isn't the case for fat people. Most of the time when characters are fat, often like race, it's a huge if not singular part of their story arch or the main focus of the show/series altogether.

With diversity becoming a mainstay instead of a novelty, thankfully we are seeing more types of different people exploring different dynamics of the same root identity. Fat people too.

If you recall my last post on Fat People on TV, I highlighted quite a lot of different shows. Some I thought were stellar and gone too soon, and others I felt could bump it up a bit. This time is no different and while I'm sure I haven't seen all the shows of diversity in body representation, I want to showcase some that really stood out to me this year and perhaps a couple years before.


This was a UK show that ran for three seasons around 2012-2015. The show was set in the 1990s and followed a teen named Rae, who had mental illness that she was hospitalized for. The show is based off an autobiographical book of the same name, though I haven't read it. The show focuses on Rae's love life and how she feels about her body, but its primarily a drama about her and her, I'll say "friend", Chloe.


It took me a while to realize that the show was primarily about their relationship and not everything else that a 16 year old in the 1990s UK has to worry about. Its quite refreshing when you think about it that way, because a show featuring the complex relationship of two teen girls is quite a rarity. 


I often found Rae written to get in her own way in order to progress the plot, and quite often her self pride would collide with her insecurities (perhaps part of her mental issues) but I totally respected her for being her own person and her inner monologues that you hear about how horny she is are so fantastic.


Her love interest in the show was Finn, the too hot guy who she felt she was not good enough for. I find that trope when doing fat people love interests getting tired. 


Though fat characters can have insecurities, I really wish they would finally trust their ability to get the "hot guy" and not always second guess themselves. Perhaps that is too much to ask for teens, but I'm sure you get the gist.

In any account, this is a stellar series that is complex, nuanced, and very, very funny.



One word, Miss Piggy. Okay that's two words, but come on.
The icon of plus size sexyness, Miss Piggy has been seen as a sex symbol for decades. She's confident, slightly crazy, and loves her man. 


The reboot of the Muppets I thought was one of the best shows I'd seen in years. It's humor grew up with the show, for that older audience that grew up with it in the 1970s. But here is the thing, the show was NEVER written for children. Ever. It always had an edge to it, so I think that kids who watched it then, who are adults watching it with their kids now, were thrown off by the innuendo and jokes and sometimes crude humor. I thought it was a stellar evolution of the series.


I felt this new version of the show made Miss Piggy too much of a megalomaniac, and that hurt it. She was difficult for the sake of being difficult. Piggy was difficult, but never without reason. I loved the idea of her and Kermit breaking up. It was so so clever and you KNEW they were going to get back together, but alas, the show got canceled because I think people were so "offended".



This is a new show on NBC. Its about a family of three siblings and interplays in the present and past with their parents raising them. I thought the pilot was pretty close to genius in the reveal at the end, but I've never gone past the second episode. 


The fat character, Kate, pretty much mirrors the storyline of Mike and Molly. A fat woman meets a fat man at an eating disorder group. They are not too serious about it. Kate has an overly attractive sibling who is needy…its too close to Mike and Molly for my comfort.


I get tired of the fat person who is one of the two extremes. Either mean and bitchy and does not care about what people think, or insecure and meek with highlights of bravery when the story needs it. It's tired and I wish they would create more dynamic fat characters. Granted, she COULD be that, I just never got past the second episode to find out.



The next two are web series because TV online is just as good if not better than what is on network television.



I gotta say, I stumbled across this show by chance. It's a Nigerian web series that's in its third season. When I found it I was over the moon and binge watched the first two seasons in one night! The show stars a woman named Tiwa who hosts a radio call in show. She has an eccentric family, an overly attractive younger sister, and the show revolves around mostly how Tiwa gets in her own freaking way all the time!


I gotta say, this character who is supposed to have the most difficult time getting men to notice her has had 3 amazingly attractive men be her love interests in all three seasons, and except for the first man who was written to be the heartbreaker, I can't for the life of me figure out why she keeps self sabotaging her relationships other than the story calls for it.

It's often typical soap opera drama. Tiwa does not say what needs to be said until after it's importance has passed. She seems to want these relationships to fail, and they do, and then she monologues to us (a lot of 4th wall braking in this show and a lot of times it does not work) about how she can't get a good man. She's difficult and harsh and not in an intriguing way, but the men still come. She seems to have this need to quit everything before it starts. Her relationships, her promotion, and then blame it on the other person for her own out. But why she does this is never explained. That is utterly frustrating.

If the reason she is fat is the only reason to have a character and nothing else, I can't deal with that. The supporting cast is stellar. The mom, who is written to be so over the top is still endearing, and the "fast" sister has her moments as well. The father, who is rarely in it, is probably my favorite character. Whenever he is on screen he steals the scene.


I could talk about it technically and how its ill paced, they have some production issues, the audio isn't consistent and the characters do an OVER ABUNDANCE of teeth sucking, to the point of annoyance (no, lets not say its culture because it got so much worse in season 3). But those are small (except the teeth sucking) for the chance to see a fat woman at least attempt to be an actual character. I just wish it were a bit more polished, and put more dimension into Tiwa because she is just a flat character.



This show I stumbled upon like Skinny Girl in Transit
Its a web series in it's second season, and the main character, Kate is also the writer of the series. Out of all the fat characters in TV, this one is the most authentic and complex and like me. I really identify with her.

I really like the departure from the first season and Kate's obsession with this boy who seemed to only be her obsession because he was there. I'm glad she didn't end up with him because it felt like she was settling if she did, because I always thought she was better than him.

Season two is much more streamlined and frankly where the show actually starts. It's pretty much a focus on Kate and a new love interest, Alan. She meets him at a party and they start dating. The two actors have such fun chemistry. 


Kate is that fat female character that I have been waiting for. She knows who she is, but feels awkward in situations about her, but will stand up for herself and what she wants. She 'goes for it' so to speak, or at the very least is aware of her panic self sabotage tendencies. It's so refreshing to have a character that dimensional.


You don't have to watch the first season to follow the second season. The second season also has Kate with a LOT of girlfriends and their dialogue is one of the best parts of the show. Its amazing how rare it is to see shows where the women talk about their lives and sex and its funny and authentic  and well written. 


Just because I'm not saying a lot about this show does not mean there is not a lot of content there. It's simply presented in a condensed narrative and worth watching the roughly 40 minutes total over and over :)


So, there are my shows. I know their are others, I'm sure of it (cartoons as well) but these are the ones that fell into my line of sight and I enjoyed them.

I hope you like this tried write up and I hope you all have a fantastic 2017!

3 comments:

  1. I don't watch much tv either so learning about these shows was informative for me. I'll have to check these out. Your insights are on target for what's needed in Fat TV.

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  2. I'm watching This is Us and there are things about the show that I like enough to continue watching. But the two fat characters annoy the hell out of me. Well, mostly the boyfriend. It makes me angry that he's so dismissive of what she wants and I was finding myself yelling at the TV for Kate to dump him fairly often.

    I do find that a lot of the portrayal of fat people on TV is very insulting to actual fat people. I really haven't watched any web shows, so I'm interested in the two you mentioned. I do watch a lot of streaming channels and Hulu has a show called Difficult People that I just LOVE. The main character is a little heavier than the typical TV character and I think she's great. Her weight comes up sometimes because she's a comedian and her stereotypical Jewish mother nags her about her weight, but I feel like it's not really a primary focus of her character and when it comes up, it feels like things that actually happen in mine and my friends' lives. Also Gabourey Sidibe is one of the other characters in the show and as far as I can remember, her size was never even mentioned or anything. I really appreciate when fat people are portrayed as just people and it's kind of sad that it still feels like a novel concept to not have them as some trope.

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  3. Dum Laga Ke Haisha is an Indian film featuring a large woman as the main female character. She's witty, charming and stuck in a lose-lose position married to a man who hates himself but of course it all works out in the end. I've watched it at least 3 times so far. I do so love a good rom com.

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