A couple of years ago, we had the hit gay TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and it seemed like every other episode of one of the eighteen hyperpolitical Law & Order variations had some issue concerning homosexuality. Will & Grace was funny for its first couple of years, but it overstayed its welcome by a longshot. Megan Mullaly was the funniest thing about that sitcom—how much of her can one take? However, now it looks like gay is out, at least TV-wise, and this stupid fad is done for a while. (I expect that it will return, but the novelty will have worn off and it will be rejected by most viewers as typical Hollywood political machinations. Say what you will, but 5% is not a very large voting bloc.)
So, what’s the latest human anomaly that’s “in” in Hollywood?
Oh, yeah. “little people” are the latest fad. Boston Legal, which I really love for its irreverance and insouciance, has featured 4’3″ Meredith Eaton-Gilden (who is indeed rather well built and a mini-hottie), whose character is an attorney named Bethany Horowitz, for the past couple of episodes. She and latter-day male Chauvinist pig and prestige Boston law firm partner Denny Crane, played by the re-invented, corpulent, septuagenarian William Shatner, met for lunch in a hilarious blind date scenario. After Denny insulted her size during the date, she filed suit against him, which she dropped when Crane bargained to assist her in a suit in which Horowitz’s client was suing a health insurance company. The growing sexual tension between Horowitz and Crane, coupled with Crane’s obnoxiously hilarious sexist behavior, have kept me in stitches. I do love that show.
Now, I’m watching Bones. A featured character in this week’s episode is the great, four-foot tall, bearded actor Danny Woodburn, who plays a State Department official with a Napoleon complex. You might remember him from Seinfeld, in which he played Kramer’s friend Mickey Abbott. Like Boston Legal, Bones is avoiding the bleeding-heart Hollywood “statement” type treatment of the subject of dwarfism. Praise the Lord and pass the ammuniation.
Now, even Madison Avenue has gotten into the act, with 2’8″ Verne “Mini Me” Troyer doing an insurance commercial.
I’ve got to say that if this is a trend away from political correctness and toward the recognition—and celebration—of individual differences, I’m all for it. If we stop taking this crap so seriously and learn to laugh about things we cannot control, we’ll shuck the neuroses and the excuses and get back to business. Norman Lear boldly broke ground in the 1970s with All in the Family, but since that time no one has had the guts to give us anything but homogenized, politically correct crap. All in the Family made light of our differences, laughed at our bigotry, and gave us cause for introspection with regard to our own prejudices. It faced issues squarely, but with irony and humor. In doing so, it made a strong, yet subtle, statement without taking the high, holier than thou art moral ground. Now, we have to put up with would-be dramas that try to send us advocacy messages for every conceivable minority group as if we were a flock of sheep to be shepherded by the weenies in Hollywood. If the producers of Boston Legal and Bones are—to borrow a Shatner-related phrase—boldly going where no man has gone before (at least in the past 30 years of increasingly obnoxious political correctness), I can only hope that others soon will get the idea.