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Allison Tolman Calls On Writers and Showrunners to End Weight-Based Jokes

The ”Fargo“ and ”Why Women Kill“ actress tweeted: ”I promise, they aren’t funny.“

On Tuesday, actress Allison Tolman, who was Emmy-nominated for her role as a small-town cop on the first season of FX’s “Fargo,” called on television writers and showrunners to stop making joke about people’s weight in their scripts.

“I promise, they aren’t funny,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “And even if they were, they don’t hold up well. And even if they did, they’re unkind – either to your characters and actors or someone in your audience or crew. It’s not worth it.”

She went on to point out, “Jokes about weight don’t have to just be jokes about a characters body. They can also include making mention of: – the numbers on a scale – what someone eats – what size their clothing is – exercise and movement.”

Tolman also urged writers to take out all references to size and body in character descriptions: “And when you’re ready, begin to wrap your mind around removing body descriptors from your scripts altogether, including character descriptions and the names of minor roles. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use adjectives. But please don’t say ‘Linda- the main character’s cousin, thin and witty’ unless there’s an actual reason Linda needs to be thin. And please don’t say ‘Fat Lady In Theater’ when you mean ‘Annoying Lady In Theater.'”

The actress, whose TV credits include ABC’s “Downward Dog” and Paramount+’s “Why Women Kill,” added, “Oh! And also, people think it’s okay if they’re using descriptors for small bodies, because they’re considered complimentary. Like, you’re auditioning for ‘Skinny Intern”’ congratulations! But do you see THAT IS THE EXACT POINT AND SURELY YOU UNDERSTAND HOW WEIRD THAT IS… The audience only knows the values you assign to different body types if you have characters saying lines about them. But the rest of your script? That’s your crew, writers room, everyone in the office, executives, creative partners- all the people helping you make your show.”

When a twitter user praised HBO’s “Somebody Somewhere” for not making an issue of the weight of the main character, played by Bridget Everett, Tolman responded, “She’s one of the EP’s, makes a big difference.”

Trying to get audiences to skip the fat jokes and nasty comments is an entirely different tall hill to climb.

In January 2020, “Saturday Night Live” and “Shrill” star Aidy Bryant quit Twitter after receiving hateful comments her portrayal of former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. At the time, she told Shondaland she was being fat-shamed by both the left and the right: “The thing that always blew me away was that when I would play [Sanders] on the show, I would be inundated with tweets saying I was a fat, ugly pig who didn’t have the right to play someone as ‘brave and smart’ as Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The other half were tweeting at me saying I was too ‘beautiful and good’ to play someone as ‘vile and fat’ as Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”