Thursday , October 29 2020

Everything Is Less Than Perfect

When I first heard the premise of ABC’s Less than Perfect, I started flashing on the buried Fox sitcom, Babes. That short-lived series revolved around a trio of fat sisters who shared an apartment in the big city. Appealingly cast (Wendy Jo Sperber, Susan Peretz and Ed‘s Leslie Boone), the show was much ballyhooed in its day by members of the size acceptance community. Look, the line went, a series where plus-sized women are portrayed as vibrant interesting people – not just a buncha gluttonous shlubs! And it was coming out on then-hot upstart network Fox, too!
Only one problem: the show sucked.
Less than Perfect is the story of a Claudia Casey (Sarah Rue), a possibly plumpish office prole who one day is transferred from the fourth floor of her office building to the seemingly unattainable 22nd floor. “Claude’s” friends (you can tell she’s a regular person since her nickname’s masculinized) are earthy (Sheri Sheppard) or goofy (Andy Dick, doing his trademark clueless dork). Her new cow-workers (Note: this typo was not intentional – but I decided to leave it in!) are sleek and cutthroat, desperate for the attention of Eric Roberts’ fatuously self-absorbed boss-man. As Claude herself notes, she can easily see she’s out of place on two-two because she has “slightly more than 3% body fat.”
Yeah, that’s our Claudia – the kind of “fat girl” self-defensively equipped with a battery of put-downs that she pulls out to beat everyone else to the punch. A convenient comedic creation for writers: it gives ’em leeway to indulge in the same ol’ fat jokes without being potentially judged offensive. “Hey, the character’s making the joke, not me!”

Well, okay. But in that case, you’d better be giving your heroine some A-grade fat jokes, particularly if you’re trying to convince us this gracelessly dressed un-babe is the kind of sharp mind capable of composing a boss-worthy document first time at the keyboard. Series lead Rue is cute beneath her layered garments and has an neatly muttery way of delivering lines, but her best joke concerns the show’s obvious influence, Bridget Jones. (Commenting on actress Rene Zellwegger’s thirty pound gainage for the role of Bridget, Rue laments the fact that in Hollywood terms, her body has become “a stunt.”) When your funniest line is at the expense of comedies that preceded you, the possibility of sustaining a full season series is Less than Likely.

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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