Redheads in the Media..
posted by Jen on 8/03/01
I have always been fascinated by and a bit jealous of redheads. I used to secretly hope my dull brown hair would turn a rich, lustrous red, and my boring blue eyes turn that beautiful, jade green color, like Angie Everhart's. Redheads are undoubtedly the most beautiful and mysterious-looking people on the planet. From Christopher Columbus to Florence Nightingale to Emily Dickinson, redheads have historically demonstrated that they are powerful, compassionate and intelligent, owing in no small part to their luscious red tresses. (Note: the above 4 (four) sentences should protect me from an onslaught of redhead hate mail. I will now proceed with my weekly harangue.) However, the comedic capabilities of redheads have gotten progressively worse and worse over the last few decades, and I'm wondering: is it just the individuals I have studied, or symptomatic of a much uglier phenomenon? Let's take a closer look:
I. Archie Andrews
I love you
Let's begin with my favorite redhead of all time, a character dreamed up by John Goldwater in the 1940's. If I added up all of the hours I have logged reading Archie Comics from the time I could read up until the present, I swear it would be a solid year. It is plain for all to see why Betty and Veronica fought to win his charms for so many years. There is something cute about his crosshatched hair and upturned nose, and he dresses stylishly, yet comfortably all the time. He's not trying to be a "surfer" or a "Euro" or a "jock"; he simply dresses in jeans or khakis or whatever's most comfortable. He can make a day out of going to Pop Tate's Chocklit Shop with "the gang," and even offers to mop the floor for Pop once in a while, just to be a nice kid. Unlike Reggie Mantle, Archie was not just in it for sex or money; he was always in it for the long haul. Archie managed to befriend everyone, from his stoner buddy Jughead and his pet Hot Dog!, to the School Bully, Moose. But the best part about Archie was that he could spin Maya Angelou poetry and King Missile verse into the most lovely poetry ever. No just kidding. The best part about him is his hilarious comedic timing, his zany, madcap adventures, and the hijinks that always seemed to follow him. Now, I'm not a fan of slapstick humor of any kind, but Archie (in both the paper and the cartoon version) seemed to execute it flawlessly and without malice, so the person at the receiving end didn't feel badly at the end of the day. Even when Archie referred to Mr. Weatherbee as "Chrome Dome," it was always in good fun. Yes, this is straight from memory and dammit it, I'm attracted to this guy. God I'm a dork. But my point is that redheads in comedy were not always all bad.
Overall rank: A solid 10
II. Lucille Ball
While slightly less cute and cuddly, Lucille Ball was an incredibly impressive and versatile comedic actress. "I love Lucy" aired in the 1950's and could be described as the funniest show on TV at the time, and the humor has had remarkable staying power, still funny 50 years later. Again, I'm not a big fan of slapstick humor, but if done right, it can be funny. And Lucille Ball was decidedly funny. I think we've all seen the chocolate-eating routine a hundred times, and I have to admit, I do chuckle a bit every time I see it. She was capable of contorting her facial expressions and arm movements in such a way that you couldn't help but be impressed. And her acting capabilities were amazing: did anyone realize that she and Desi had marital problems during the entire run of the show? I think she did a pretty good job convincing all of us that they were a happy couple. I often think how sad and difficult that must have been for her, but she did it all for the show. I think after I write this, I will visit her site and try to learn all there is to know about her.
Overall rank: 9 (minus 1 for being married to Desi)
III. Audra Lindley (a.k.a Helen Roper)
I'll take care of the girls for you while you're out of town, Jack.
In the 70's, redheaded comediennes were still charming: not quite as funny as Lucy and Archie, but definitely amusing. Danny Bonaduce was certainly hilarious, although I'm not sure it was intentional.
I'm a little bit country.
"Three's Company" was easily my favorite show of the 70's (as if I've seen SO many shows with which to compare it). Any scene involving Larry or the Regal Beagle was sure to generate a laugh or two. Did anyone ever see the episode when Larry finally returned all his stuff to Jack (e.g. golf clubs, football, suitcase, etc.) and Jack says, "Where's my $10?" and Larry goes, "I couldn't fit it in the box." HAAAA!!! As far as redheads go, I think Audra Lindley made an excellent Helen Roper. She portrayed the typical under-appreciated, under-sexed housewife perfectly. I watch this show a lot nowadays, and I always wonder if it would be funny if it was created in our time. Sometimes I find myself laughing, just because I hear the laugh track laughing, and I feel like I should join in the fun or that I must be missing the joke because everyone else finds it funny. Side note one: Maybe I'm alone on this but when I was little, I used to think of Janet as the "ugly one" and Chrissy/Cindy as the "pretty one." Now when I watch the show, I realize that Janet was actually very attractive, but we were conditioned to think she was ugly because all the men always went for the blondes. (Can you tell I just got highlights?) Side note two: I just don't understand why TV in general is just not as funny as it used to be. Or did people have different taste back then? I would love to figure out how an entire generation of TV shows went from funny to not.
OK, I have to stop getting sidetracked because you have all been e-mailing me telling me I stray off my topics too much. I'm sorry, OK???
Anyway, I distinctly remember watching one episode as a little kid and being impressed by this scene:
Helen: Have you gotten my birthday present yet?
Stanley:Yes, I have! (all proud of his purchase)
Helen:Oh goody! Can I ask, is it golden?
Stanley: Actually, it is.
Helen: Oh Stanley, I'm so excited. Does it fit around my finger?
Stanley: Well, I guess with a little coaxing, it could.
Then Helen gets all excited thinking she's getting a gold ring and then…drum roll…Stanley gets her a yellow canary!!! HAAAAAAAHAAAAAAA!!!!! What a wacky misunderstanding!!!!!!
Overall rank: 8 (originally a 9 but deducted a point for association with Suzanne Somers )
IV. Charlotte Rae (Edna Garrett)
I think this may have been the turning point for my tolerance of redheads. When I think of Edna, I don't think of a funny lady. The first thing I think is sinister; the second is bad motherly figure. You see; Edna was really not a nice lady. I don't know if you remember the Geri episodes at all: Blair's cousin Geri would periodically visit the show, (she was the one with the "I'm not drunk, I have Cerebral Palsy" T-shirt). She and Blair would do stand-up comedy routines or perform the timeless classic "Tea for Two." As we all know, there was some weird thing going on with Blair being both embarrassed and jealous of Geri at the same time, and it was pretty confusing for all of us. (Another side note : If anyone has the 'Ten Little Indians' episode on tape, the one where Jo had the dream that Blair killed all of them off one by one, I am willing to bake you a large plate of brownies in exchange for it.) Anyway, if you watch any of the Geri episodes closely, you can see Edna LAUGHING at her when she speaks. At first I thought I was imagining it, but I noticed it both during the "Tea for Two" bit and the time when they did that all-day telethon. Just laughing at Geri, whenever she opened her mouth. I'm sorry, am I missing the joke here? Believe me, I'm not trying to make fun of this disorder; this is purely something I've noticed on Edna's part. Come on, if you're gonna to laugh at someone, make it Tootie or Mackenzie (who could be the ugliest redhead ever, as I have mentioned in previous articles). Furthermore, was anyone else horrified by the fact that after Edna Edibles burned down and the girls had nothing, save for Natalie's mongo supply of pork chitlins, that Edna just ran off with her high school boyfriend? Where I'm from, this type of woman is called a "ho."
Overall rank: 5 (saved by Tootie)
No Angela, I don't want no scrubs.
I'm not sure if Mona actually has a name in real life, so we'll just leave it at Mona. Mona was the "Who's the Boss" version of Edna Garrett, only with the self-important "I hook up more often than my daughter, I listen to Bob Seger" attitude, that had the effect of making her that much more annoying. If anyone caught the episode where Jonathan was running for school president, you will recall that all the kids chanted "Your grandma's a bimbo! Your grandma's a bimbo!" to Jonathan mercilessly, effectively destroying his sense of self-worth and any chance he had for election.
Gigolo. Huh? Suckah!
Let's face it, Mona has gotten her hands on more meat than a goddamn butcher, and she even helped herself to Angela's men from time to time. Her idea of funny was poking fun at Jonathan's flaming homosexuality, Tony's washed-up boxing career, and Angela's perpetual celibacy. Which I kind of enjoyed, so I'll give her a few points.
Jonathan and Angela get tips from the Maneater
Overall rank: 3
VI. Emily Schulman (Harriet)
Today is the greatest day I've ever known
I think this is the redhead that officially got the barf coming up through the esophagus for me. If you haven't seen "Small Wonder," the show about the robot girl, then you were lucky to be saved from Vicky and Jaime's ugly large-banged, redheaded neighbor who annoyed the living shit out of them and anyone who came in her path. Her mother's name was Edie or something; both of them looked exactly alike, except Edie was about 500 lbs. and had a bouffant. Emily's was about 80 lbs., but I swear that mullet of bangs had to weigh at least 4 lbs. She was always coming over the house to try and figure out why Vicky wasn't like the other girls, why she lived in a cabinet, why she wore the same red dress and white apron to school everyday. I'm sorry, but ARE YOU A COMPLETE ASSHOLE?? Do you not hear the same monotone, computer-generated voice that all the rest of us hear? How can you NOT know the chic is a robot? I can't understand why this girl is so…damn…stupid and annoying, but she has the exact same personality in every show/movie in which she appears. In the movie Troop Beverly Hills, Emily ruined a perfectly good premise with a voice and a mug that could make you cry. Side note again: Can anyone confirm if Jaime is actually the guy who died from Smashing Pumpkins? I have been hearing this rumor for years and would like to know the truth. Thanks. : )
Overall rank: 1 (gets one point for not being Kathy Griffin)
VII. Kathy Griffin
I'm trying to control myself from laughing at my own joke. But I can't! I'm JUST TOO funny!
I am now officially calling myself bulimic, yes a certified bulimic, because I have one finger down my throat as I write this and I …CANNOT… STOP…VOMITING when I see this face on TV. I will next apologize for the quality of the following paragraphs because I get so damn upset when I think about my hatred for Kathy Griffin, that I can't even speak coherently. In fact, I hate this girl more than Kirk, because at least Kirk really believes he is funny. I think Kathy honestly wakes up every morning and wonders how she can be as hYeinous as possible and how she can suck the life out of the American public. SHE KNOWS she is annoying but she keeps on going!!! What the hell kind of sick pup is this? I think the only reason "Suddenly Susan" lasted as long as it did was because Kathy was so godddddawful, she made the rest of the cast look riotously funny. I have actually considered hooking up with Andy Dick after watching her for a while. OK, I'm just kidding about that, Andy Dick deserves to be next on this list, but I just don't have the strength to launch into a diatribe about it.
Now this is where I get a little confused. Kathy Griffin played Vicki on "Suddenly Susan" but there is actually ANOTHER ugly redhead whose name is Vicki Lewis in real life; she was on "News Radio" and is now on "Sister, Sister" with Tia and Tamara.
"Lestah? This is Saaaaaandra. Looks like Tamara got hoself in a little trouble."
Back to Kathy. Did you catch the "Seinfeld" episode where she plays a comedienne, and brings Jerry a carton of salsa and George a doll? The "joke" was that Jerry wanted a specific jar of salsa that had a picture of a guy who looked like Charles Grodin on it, because he was a guest on the Charles Grodin show. He thought it would be "funny" to have a can of salsa…that looked like Charles Grodin! Absolute hysterics! The crowd went craaaaaazy for it!!! So Kathy brought him the wrong case of salsa, because she thought he would like her brand better, and she brought George the wrong doll, because she thought it was cuter than the one she was supposed to bring. It gets to the point where you actually empathize with Jerry and George and want them to succeed in destroying her very essence. There is so much more to say about Kathy. There are so many episodes of "Caroline in the City" I could reference here, so many times I have had the unfortunate luck of flipping through channels and seeing her perform her stand-up routine ("OK, OK, I was like BUDDY! Of course THEY ARE REAL!!!
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!") I'm sorry, I honestly can't finish this article properly. I am now using the staple remover on my eyeballs because I…CAN'T…BEAR…TO…LOOK at the hideousness anymore.