I started watching Coupling this week and it gave me the idea for this post (and I don’t just mean, “Wow, this reminds me of Friends”). This show about six attractive, single, professional types strayed from something I have always liked about British television – and that is not everyone is drop dead gorgeous. This sentiment was echoed by a comment on an earlier post by kymlucas:
“I also love the fact that gorgeous in England doesn’t necessarily equate to perfect teeth and features. Richard Armitage (be still my beating heart) has kind of a pointy nose and Sean Bean (pitter-pat, pitter-pat) isn’t really handsome just extremely masculine. Sigh. Let me sit here and dream a moment.”
In many of the programs I have watched, characters who are seen as beautiful or hot do not meet the Hollywood standard for obvious attractiveness at first glance. But upon closer inspection, they actually are.
In William and Mary, William Shawcross (Martin Clunes) chooses Mary Gilcrest (Julie Graham) out of all others he sees at a video dating service and falls head over heels. He sees a sexy, good-looking woman – she even has a tattoo! Hold on – she’s also a mother of two teens with a noticeable gap between her teeth and, let’s face it, a few years on her. But she owns it and is strong, intelligent and attractive. And the fact that Martin Clunes has starred in at least three different series would certainly fly in the face of the traditional standard for leading men on American television.
In the casting of The Office, it was said that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wanted lesser known actors with average looks to make their mockumentary seem even more realistic. Yet behind the limp hair, drab wardrobe and imperfect complexions, Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis) are intriguing and attractive as an almost-couple.
On Shameless, Fiona Gallagher (Anne-Marie Duff) is overworked, overwhelmed and looks it, but when Steve (James McAvoy) sees her dancing at a nightclub, he thinks she’s the most beguiling woman he’s ever seen. Suddenly, her skinny awkwardness is seen in a more graceful light…of love. Corny as it sounds, it’s the love (or at least the haze of infatution) that allows these characters to see the objects of their affection as handsome or beautiful and we see it right along with them.
Sure, it’s easy to fantasize about your McDreamys or Gossip Girls. I, for one, am glad for British televisions’ willingness to showcase all types of beauty because it makes our viewing experience far more interesting and exposes us to many talented actors who might not have gotten a second look in Hollywood.