I recently went on a BBC TV binge. I watched a lot of great, strange shows that seem to come out of the UK. I went back to one of my favorites, Spaced, and while on my Frost and Pegg marathon I found the show Hyperdrive and became incredibly addicted to that, even though, like Spaced, it’s a very short series.
While watching both of these shows it occurred to me that these kinds of TV shows would never be made in the same way in the states… Nick Frost, while a great lead and a terrific comic talent, just doesn’t seem like the kind of show runner they like in the states. Nick is a husky guy with irregular teeth. The female lead, Miranda Hart, is a very tall woman, also pretty husky. The other male lead, Kevin Eldon, is a thin, balding man. I started to wonder how this show would be cast if it had been made in the US. Replace Nick Frost with Matt Bomer, Miranda Hart with Nina Dobrev, and Kevin Eldon with Misha Collins. The comedic timing and talent of the original cast replaced by people more pretty and photogenic performers.
The same goes for Spaced Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes replaced with Josh Lawson and Sara Rue younger, sexier people. Despite the fact that the original story of Spaced kind of had them as 20-something losers.
Watching those two shows made me wonder where all the regular people are in US TV and films. I know a lot of people who watch shows or go to movies just because they like the way the actors and actresses look. It got me thinking, where are all the “normal” looking people in TV shows and movies? Of course “normal” is very subjective but few people would consider Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Aniston, and Kate Beckensale as “normal;” all of them definitely holding firm positions on the “extremely attractive” to “absurdly attractive” on the physical appearance scale. Shows like Burn Notice, True Blood, Arrow, Supernatural, they may all be great shows with good performances…but are just full very un-normally “pretty people.” Grizzled soldiers, hardened prisoners, brilliant scientists, and slacker losers are all the same chiseled-jawed guys and slim fit girls.
Of course British TV isn’t better in every case, and I don’t watch much TV in general, but I’m hard pressed to think of a US TV show that isn’t chocked full of American Apparel models with Blue Steel expressions and full, pouty lips. Almost universally. Even when a show is built around a personality the rest of it is cast with hot eye candy as friends and family.
The entertainment industry has become an almost entirely visual medium. Yes of course music is an auditory art, however since at least the advent of film, if not the advent of public performance in general, the visual impact of a performer is often significantly more important than their musical talent…and we all pretty much know it.
As someone who considers himself to operate essentially on the “normal” side of the physical appearance meter it struck me how little of “normal” we see and makes me wonder how much talent goes untapped in the market due to a performer’s appearance. Every piece of our entertainment is now designed wholly to appeal to the attractiveness of the individuals involved. I’d like to see a “return to normalcy” in media. Where talent, personality, and ability makes a show great. The last time I can think of a show not fully stocked with the beautiful people it was Roseanne; a show that started in 1988 and ended almost 20 years ago! I’d say we’re long overdue for a move away from all the beautiful people.