As far as causes go, SizeFriendlyTV campaigns for one of the most bizarre. The website advocates the inclusion of more “People of Size” in prime-time television, claiming that People of Size are woefully under-represented in the world of TV. What are People of Size, you ask? Well, SizeFriendlyTV defines People of Size (POS) on television as such: “To be considered of-size, a character should be carrying at least an extra 25-30 pounds.” So, overweight people. Fat people. Thankfully, SizeFriendlyTV has come out with an end-of-the-year ranking that gives grades to prime-time TV shows based on their utilization of people of size. The results aren’t all that surprising.
Their metric completely flunks a number of shows, including 24, House and CSI: Miami. The highest ranking show was Two and a Half Men, which received a B+ grade. Good for them. Still, though, this whole thing is somewhat baffling.
Why would anyone be concerned about the number of overweight people on a show like 24? 24 is a series that deals with highly-specialized government agents and dangerous terrorists. Generally, these are the type of people who are going to be in pretty good shape. Jack Bauer certainly doesn’t want any overweight agents bringing the rest of his SWAT team down. Is there a need for a token fat guy? Edgar Stiles was a Person of Size working at CTU, but he was killed. Is that not good enough, SizeFriendlyTV? Does 24 have an obligation to hire a new Edgar Stiles every season?
I understand the sensitivity around overweight people and obesity in general. Staying in good physical condition is a lot more difficult for some people than it is for others. But, does that alone people the right to demand more screen opportunities for the overweight. One of their main arguments is that since 40-50% of America is “of Size”, 40-50% of TV characters should be of Size as well. Am I missing something? Haven’t we all agreed that being overweight is bad? Just because something is reality, doesn’t mean that TV producers have to actively reflect that on their shows. Drama is not a truthful reflection of society, it’s an exaggerated, heightened play off of reality. And, it’s safe to assume that TV viewers would rather watch good-looking people who are in shape than someone 20 pounds overweight.
But, perhaps I’m missing the point. What do you all think? Are People of Size represented fairly in the world of television? Comment below with your thoughts.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer