It’s 2021. Time for Shortland Street to get some fat characters
(I pitched this story to The Spinoff, because I have written for them before, but they said "it's not quite the right fit for us right now" and boy howdy, do us fat people know about things not fitting, so I'm posting it here instead. Woo!)
In 1998, in all earnest naivety as a first year Communications student, I wrote an essay about how Shortland Street both mirrored and shaped our society in its approach to “controversial” topics like homosexuality (bring back Karl Urban as the gay ambo!), terminations and other such things that really aren’t so very controversial anymore. That was twenty three years ago, and it’s true that Shorties has done great work since then on a range of topics, but there’s one area where it still does not reflect New Zealand life at all. Where are the fat people?
It should not be controversial to say that a cultural institution that aims to depict a broad spectrum of New Zealand should actually show us at our broadest too. But I can hear you flocking to the Facebook comments before reading the piece already. So okay, here goes.
“But fat people are unhealthy!”
Well one, that’s not necessarily true. And two, what makes you think that the current residents of Ferndale are any healthier? Do you know how dangerous weddings on the Street are? Or how deadly Warner sperm is?
“We don’t want to set a bad example for kids by saying it’s okay for people to be fat”
Pretty sure this same shit was totted out when Shortland Street had its first civil union and it was crap then and crap now. NZ has fat people, let us reflect that on television.
“TV should only feature attractive people”
You might not want to fuck me, or other fat people, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t want to, my friend. And are you telling me that you find every single person on Shortland Street hot? Even Chris Warner? Don’t you know how deadly his sperm is?
“Actors are hired for their talent, not how they look”
Cool, so hire some talented fat actors then.
“But fat people wouldn’t fit into the storylines”
This may shock you, but fat people are people. They’re perfectly capable of sleeping with their flatmates, having gambling addictions, losing their dogs, having their children kidnapped by their exs, being racist cops AND protesting racist cops, being doctors, doing cosplay and being impregnated by Chris Warner.
Shortland Street has got better at reflecting our more diverse society in recent years, hiring a trans person to play a trans person, tackling police racism, acknowledging that bisexuality actually exists and FINALLY letting people have a threesome all these years after Rachel turned down Chris and Toni. It’s long past time that they took a stand and acknowledged the 60% of our population who are fat too.