My TV

12 September 2008

Fox’s Do Not Disturb: at once typical and stunningly unique

By // TV

A basic workplace sitcom rife with sexual humour, misunderstandings and a distinct sense that nothing productive ever happens at that particular workplace. There’s the traditional randy boss and his spunky female counterpart, the ditsy receptionist and the hunky security guard. In this case the workplace is an Inn and the players range from Jerry O’Connell to Tia’s boyfriend from Sister Sister (RonReaco Lee) to a former Passionsplayer (Molly Stanton) to James Franco’s kid brother (Dave Franco). The result is incredibly boring and formulaic.
But there’s more.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (a favourite of mine) is taking another stab at TV with Do Not Disturb after his adorable sitcom The Class was prematurely cancelled 2 years ago. As if Ferguson himself isn’t enough of a draw, he’s also playing a character who is somewhat of a rarity on TV- a believable, unstereotypical gay man. In the pilot episode, Ferguson’s character Larry leads a storyline about flirtation and sex appeal in which the fact that it’s men that he’s flirting with is barely a factor. The plot bumbles along just as if the storyline pertained to a straight character. Larry’s not a stereotype but he’s not a “straight gay man” either. In fact, his sexual orientation defines him no more or less than his inherent awkwardness, socio-economic status or line of employment does- GLAAD should be proud.

There’s one other character on Do Not Disturb who deserves mention: Molly (played by Jolene Purdy). Molly is a plus sized model who also works at the hotel. She’s self assured, clever, brave and completely comfortable with herself. The only other overweight, female TV characters I can think of for whom weight hasn’t been an issue have been played by Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who?), and then they make a point of never mentioning her size. For Molly, her size is very much a part of who she is. In fact, in the pilot episode, Nicole, the beautiful receptionist, mocks her weight by laughing when  Molly tells her that she’s a model. Just like they did with Larry’s character, the writers and actors of Do Not Disturb created an inspiring character in Molly, who is aware of what makes her different but is not defined by it.

How 2 such interesting and unique (in terms of TV land, not reality) characters landed on such an uninteresting and commonplace show I’ll never know, but I do know that it’s them that will keep me tuned in each week.

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