Less than pretty faces on television: US vs UK

It seems British television is much more likely to feature people and characters on television shows that do not meet the conventional notions of what’s commonly considered ‘attractive.’ Take for instance a show like ‘Doc Martin.’ Caroline Catz and Joe Absolom would be standard attractive fare for American television but doofy-looking Martin Clunes or downright unattractive Ian McNeice would almost never appear on American television in anything but a bit part and here they are major characters. Same thing with ‘New Tricks’ (e.g. Alun Armstrong).

I don’t actually find this type of casting objectionable and it seems a more realistic representation of how the general population appears.

It can’t be just me that’s noticed this?

How *dare *you even mention a person’s physical appearance, you shallow, objectifying . . . objectifier!? :eek:

Just kidding; I wanted to get that in because you never know which way a thread is going to go.

I think, and I could very well be biased as I’ve been a fan for a long while, but I’ve always felt that Brits put less emphasis on looks over talent. Also, the standard of beauty may differ from the US. Not that the standard is lower by any means, just that their tastes may run differently.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been watching Eastenders all these years (on PBS and the episodes are nine years behind the current show).

Links to photos might have helped, since I’m totally unfamiliar with this show or any of these actors. But upon checking IMDB, I have to say Ian McNeice reminds me of George Wendt (Norm on “Cheers”).

If American TV actors really are more attractive, in general, than their British counterparts, how much of this is due to the fact that America has a larger pool of attractive would-be TV stars to draw from?

You’re missing the point by a factor of many.

Then please enlighten us as to what the “point” is.

American TV and films have always prefered good looks. It’s hard to get a job in Hollywood with a plain-looking face (male or female) other than character roles. Indeed, when a movie needs “unattractive” women for a plot point, they often take attractive women and give them a putty nose or something, since it’s awfully hard to find a young, unattractive woman working.

Note that the first thing you send to a Hollywood audition when you’re starting out is a head shot. That says it all. You don’t have to attractive, per se, but you do need to be “interesting.”

England has one advantage in that stage and TV are all in the same area; in the US, they’re on opposite coasts. Thus someone who’s successful in the West End can be noticed and given a role in a TV series.

the US media demands perfection from its stars, and those who aren’t attractive/beautiful typically are relegated to roles where they’re either the butt of jokes or just a cliche. e.g. Chris Farley being used mostly as the stereotypical “bumbling fat slob.” Someone who looks like Stephen Fry would not have an easy go of it starting out in Hollywood.

Really? Raymond Burr? Peter Falk? Al Bundy? William Conrad? Homer J Simpson?

Did you know, after that tv went color. Crazy.

… Steve Buscemi, Paul Giamatti, William H Macy…

Aha! Found a link!

It ain’t just me, even the Brits agree

This is most definitely true, however it’s only in the last ten or twenty years that American TV (and film, and music for that matter) have really gone overboard with this. It’s mostly because of the exponential increase in media outlets & social media etc. There are more content providers than there is quality content, so quality has given way to quantity. And there is no shortage of people who have beauty, but limited talent. In the old days they of course looked for both, but decent talent could make up for some lack of beauty. Beauty without talent kept you limited to boat shows and escort services. Not anymore.

Watch American TV shows from twenty years ago, not nearly as many supermodel pretty faces, but by necessity more talent…

Well said

Frances McDormand is – not a great beauty.

This reminds me of the scene in *Cheers *when Coach’s daughter says to him, in response to his comment that she looks just like her mother, “Mom was not . . . comfortable with her beauty”. Makes me misty just thinking about it. Hijack over.

I think Hail Ants makes some good points. I also wonder if America has gotten, um, more superficial and / or beauty obsessed? I realize we’ve *always *been that way- especially Hollywood - but does it seem like we’ve taken it to a whole different level?

FWIW, you’ve now reminded me of Rhea Perlman, and, thus, Danny DeVito.

She was hot and kinda naked in Robert Altman Short Cuts.

Also, anybody and everybody in The Sopranos.

Hey, if you’re a British actor and attractive you come to the United States where the money is.