Pushing Prejudice

Man, I post a paean to Pushing Daisies, and what do I get a week later? An episode that totally destroys my love for and faith in this show. One of the things that I really loved about this whole series was that even though food was a huge part of the show, prejudice about food and food issues were not. Hell, one of the main characters is fat, which I think is totally awesome, because he’s just there, and it just is, and I thought that was a pretty major step for fat acceptance. (Although the fat character is, of course, male, and men are generally more commonly allowed to be fat on television, and he’s black, so he’s kind of a male version of the mammy archetype in a lot of ways, which is sort of icky when I think about it, but I just realized that this very second, and that’s a whole separate post.)

At any rate, last week’s episode revolved around a cooking competition, and a series of acts of sabotage which culminated in a murder. It looked like it was going to play out like most episodes, with some romping and generally good times and a neat plot twist, and a cameo appearance by Beth Grant, whom I love.

Early on in the episode, we were introduced to a fat character in a scooter. Now, it genuinely did not occur to me that the implication was supposed to be that he was too fat to walk. I just kind of assumed…that he had some sort of condition which required a scooter, and I thought it was good to see a disabled character, because there aren’t many on network television.

But no.

Oh, no. No, it turns out that the fat character was a murderer. Because, you see, becoming fat had “ruined his life” (yes, it really was in the script), and so he took revenge by killing the owner of a fried chicken restaurant. And they made sure to have a ridiculous sequence in which we see the character buying container after container of fried chicken and getting fatter and fatter and then, hafuckingha, he gets into the car and the springs break.

Yeah, so the lesson there was: fat people have no self control, fat people only get fat because they eat so much, being thin is much better, you will be happier if you are thin, and becoming fat will ruin your life.

Thanks, Pushing Daisies, for making it so that I am no longer in the least bit sad that you were canceled.

2 Replies to “Pushing Prejudice”

  1. I think prejudice against fat people is so deeply ingrained in our society that it will be far harder to root out than most any other kind of stereotyping. Odd, isn’t it, when in earlier societies, where food was hard to come by, fat was a sign of wealth and health, clearly making it a socially defined attitude by a species whose primary sense is visual.

    Now if our primary sense were auditory, we could be prejudiced against screechy voices or mumbly voices…

    But I don’t think a non-stereotyped view of the world is possible, except by direct, full personal effort–and how many people are willing to put the time and work into doing so?

  2. Well, television is a great medium for showcasing a non-stereotyped view of the world. The producers could have made a conscious choice to NOT have a stereotypical fat character, but instead they decided to take that route, playing to the lowest common denominator. By its very nature as a visual medium, television can send out some very powerful and awesome messages (and, indeed, I liked the overall tone of ‘Pushing Daisies’ very much before last week). I think that producers and writers should use their power for good, not evil and hatred.

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