Hindsight, it’s commonly said, is 20/20. Which is to say, some things seem a lot clearer when we can look back at them with the benefit of time and, perhaps, cultural progress.
Take “Fat Monica” on Friends, for example.
Back in the day, Monica’s overweight high school self might have seemed like acceptable fodder for a joke at her expense. But fast-forward a couple of decades, and some who saw those episodes when they were quite young can now see that this “joke” at Monica Gellar’s expense was actually at the expense of many others, too, in terms of the messages it sent. Messages like, “Thin is good, fat is bad.” With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that Fat Monica isn’t so funny after all.
In this episode of The Plugged In Show, we’ll talk more about the reality of entertainment’s influence, and how comedy can at times disarm our critical thinking. We’ll also unpack the story of actress Mischa Barton, who starred as a promiscuous wild child on the popular Fox series The O.C. in the early 2000s. Barton recently admitted that she felt pressured to lose her virginity in real life because she was playing a promiscuous character on the show. Not only does popular entertainment influence those watching; sometimes it influences the lives of those creating it, too, and in some deep and personal ways.
So take a listen to this week’s conversation on The Plugged In Show: “Fat Monica and the Rest of Us.” Let us know what you think below or via our social media outlets on Facebook and Instagram. And be sure to explore the resources and links related to the show that I’ve listed below.
Questions for Conversation With Your Child:
- What is this show or movie inviting us to laugh at? Is it at someone’s expense in a meanspirited or stereotyping way?
- What choices or behavior does a show or movie glorify in a way that makes them seem normal or appealing?
- What do you think would happen in real life if you did the same thing these characters did? What might the consequences be?
- Interaction question: What TV show or movie influenced you when you were younger? How did it shape your choices or identity? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram.
Reviews and Resources
• Plugged In Blog: “There For Us? Why Friends is Still Culturally Relevant”
• Plugged In Blog: “Piecing Together the Legacy of Friends”
• Plugged In Review: The Lizzie McGuire Movie
• Plugged In Review: Parks and Recreation
• Plugged In Review: I Feel Pretty
• Plugged In Review: Love Actually
• Plugged In Review: Guardians of the Galaxy
• Plugged In Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
• Focus on the Family Broadcast Episode: “Navigating Beauty and Body Image With Teen Daughters (part 1 of 2)”
• Focus on the Family Article: “Helping Teens Overcome Poor Body Image”
• Focus on the Family Article: “5 Lies That Can Destroy Your Daughter”
• The Plugged In Show Episode 80: Our Formative Pop Culture Influences
• Plugged In Review: The Office
• Plugged In Review: The O.C.
• Plugged In Review: Euphoria
• Plugged In Review: Riverdale
• Plugged In Review: Cuties
• The Plugged In Show Episode 41: “Entertainment’s Sexualization of Young Girls”