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Fat Actress: So What’s the Big Deal?

Yeah, so Kirstie Alley is fat. But in a huge letdown for me and, I’m sure, millions of other fat Americans, that doesn’t really seem to be the issue on her overhyped Showtime reality sitcom. I don’t subscribe to Showtime, but with all the promotion they did for this show—creating a free preview weekend leading up to it, proclaiming yesterday “Fat Monday” in the press, plastering Kirstie’s seductive smirk everywhere but inside my own refrigerator—I was primed and ready to watch. I don’t think I laughed once.

Here’s the problem: While Kirstie may well be fat (and there were several times during the show that I inhaled sharply, surprised at how large she actually is from certain angles), her real problem seems to be that she’s a whiny, selfish, demanding bitch who surrounds herself with paid sycophants. Sure, Jeff Zucker had a great time on-camera mocking her heft, but something tells me that if she’d gone into her pitch meeting with something to actually pitch, instead of just insisting that she’d be great in anything, perhaps the NBC suits could’ve gotten over her size. Her obstacle isn’t her body; it’s her obliviousness and unprofessionalism.

There was an opportunity here to say something smart and interesting about what it’s like to be a fat woman in America today. But by creating a character who’s so inherently unlikable, and so entirely unlike nearly every other fat woman out there (How many of us pay an assistant and a hairdresser to pal around with us full-time? How many of us have agents to sell our talents and deal with unpleasantness on our behalf? How many of us have friends like John Travolta, who can call out a SWAT team at the drop of a hat?), they blew it, big time.

My cable provider screwed up and the free preview didn’t go off as planned. When I called to find out what happened, they offered me a free month of Showtime instead, which of course I accepted. I suppose I’ll watch a few more episodes and see if my opinion changes, but I’m not exactly looking forward to it.

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