There's a Web banner for this new TBS show, Daisy Does America, that is working my last nerve. It shows the eponymous Daisy co-opting two recognizably American icons -- the Statue of Liberty and Marilyn Monroe's publicity shot for The Seven-Year Itch -- and goggling at the camera with an expression of what is presumably madcap dismay. Darn this silvery skirt! I'm so dismayed my gorgeous legs are on display!
The shot's not the part that irritates me. The caption is: "Proving beautiful girls can be funny, TBS presents Daisy Donovan!"
Let's break down the ways in which this sentence is so very wrong:
Item the first: Is America really laboring under the misconception that beautiful women aren't funny?
Aren't entire sitcoms based on the premise that hot mamas do giggly things? Beautiful women may not be allowed to be witty on television, but there is no shortage of gorgeous ladies taking pratfalls for our amusement. Exhibit A: Desperate Housewives. Exhibit B: NBC's comedic strategy during the 1990s, which seemed to revolve around the "Does she look good in a miniskirt? Give her a show!" strategy. Exhibit C: Ally McBeal, which was a veritable festival of She Stooges-style "comedy." Exhibit D: Sex and the City. Exhibit E: Stacked. Exhibit F: The Ghost Whisperer.
(Okay, I give on The Ghost Whisperer. It took me a moment to remember the brainless comedy in that show is entirely unintentional.)
In other words, Daisy's not really breaking new ground here. In fact, she's plowing the same tired furrow that dozens of lovelies did before her: the beautiful goofball. It's a neutering strategy: all of the aesthetic pleasure of a beautiful woman, none of the intimidation that would come from the brains to match. Frankly, if I were gorgeous, I'd be outraged by society's mandate that I'm not allowed to have an intellect to go along with my stunning good looks. Thank God I don't labor under that burden.
Item the second: So if Daisy's supposedly breaking the mold with being both beautiful and funny ... does that mean that until this very moment, every funny woman on television's been a dog?
Because, really. Who can make that argument with a straight face? Have these people ever seen Amy Poehler?
The idea that a sense of humor is a consolation prize for not being gorgeous is not a new one. Like the beautiful goofball cliche, this one's meant as balm to the ego. In the right hands, humor's a weapon; it threatens preconceived notions, it offers insights, it punctures illusions. If someone who's sexually desirable is threatening someone else with a joke, it's easy to think, They're rejecting me. If an average schlub takes someone out with a punch line, they can console themselves with, I wouldn't have slept with you anyway.
Item the third: Who says Daisy's funny?
I've seen the promos. Unless TBS's clever strategy is to undersell the comedic potential of the show, we're not looking at the distaff version of Ali G. And so Daisy Donovan will have proven nothing vis a vis the comedic potential of the pulchritudinous. And we won't even get to laugh, not at her and not with her.
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