‘Allo ‘Allo : The Sexy Fat Man
One of the all time great comedy shows is ‘Allo ‘Allo. It ran for a mammoth 9 series, and made fun of national stereotypes in the process. The ridiculous conciet of the ‘accent’ subsituting for the language made for some superbly silly situations. I bring this up because I went to see the play last night, and while the actor currently playing René Artois is pretty slender, the original Rene was a fat man.
Now ‘Allo ‘Allo is very much a farce. It makes fun of the toffee-nosed english, the german gestapo’s supposed sexual proclivities, the sex-obsession of the french, and just about anything else you can imagine. It is very nudge-nudge wink-wink. Throughout the show, Rene is depicted as being irresistably sexy to both men and women – the number of them is part of the humour. The actor, Gorden Kaye, actually wrote a book about his experiences as a young gay fat actor, and his time in the role. I am now seriously contemplating ordering a copy.
I know, due to the comedy of the presentation, that ‘Allo ‘Allo cannot be necessarily viewed as ‘fat positive’. The women that throw themselves at Rene are not fat by any stretch of the imagination, and the show often makes it’s comedy out of the physical shortcomings of the women, as well as their foibles. Indeed, the women in the show are either portrayed as old and out of touch, with Edith and her mother taking on the status of harridan or harpy. The younger girls in the Cafe are also depicted as sex workers, and Helga again gets her way by taking her clothes off. Michelle, the Resistance Leader, is one of the few female characters to come off strong throughout her appearances.
However all of the cast is loveable and endearing. Edith may be a harridan, but she is also someone who can stand up for herself, and is shown as someone with a big heart.
I may be reading too much into this sitcom, but I find Rene to be an interesting character. He is a nice change from the ‘loveable but stupid fat guy’, the Homer Simpson Clones that occur so often in modern sitcoms. Of course, he is not a well rounded dramatic character, but compared to the other characters in his ‘universe’ he is not considered the ‘stupid, unnattractive guy’, he is the intelligent, sexy one.