Diversity Aboveground: Flashback Friday- Tammy

Jul 3, 2015


Tammy and her grandmother

Sometimes, there are works in the media that are ahead of their time or mis-categorized. They either fail or have a mediocre following before plunging into dark forgotten regions of Riley’s brain like Bing Bong. In Flashback Friday, those forgotten gems will be explored. This week it’s…

Tammy was a dramedy released in time for July 4th weekend in 2014. However, it was advertised like Paul Blart was a female robbing fast food restaurants. When it proved more sensitive and less gimmicky, critics panned it and audiences didn’t flock to it like they had with Bridesmaids. It was even nominated for two Razzie Awards.

The title character is a lovable loser in the same vein as Scott Pilgrim, Squidward, or Bob Harris. Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is deeply empathetic towards others whether it’s deer she’s accidentally hit or fellow fast food workers. However, she has self esteem that’s so low it’s damaging. The only times she finds the courage to stick up for herself is when she knows it will put herself in an even worse position than before. Her closest childhood friend was her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) who struggled with the same low self esteem by finding gratification from men, alcohol and pills.

Susan Sarandon is no stranger to the road trip film after driving around with Geena Davis, Natalie Portman and Stephen Dorff. However, this film isn’t about the longterm goal or destination. Just making it out of the city limits is a huge victory for Tammy who needs reassurance about making positive changes to her life. Even though it’s hard for her to see how she could change her own destiny, Tammy tries to protect her grandmother from her bad behaviors. Even the restaurant robbery is done out of love. Tammy needs the money to bail her grandmother out of jail before she suffers Diabetes complications. The road trip forces Tammy to stick up for herself, accept the decisions that affect her life, make better ones for the future and realize that she cannot change her grandmother’s addictions or behavior.

Tammy and her grandmother

Because the focus of Tammy is inward, there isn’t a traditional love interest. Tammy’s marriage falls apart in the first twenty minutes so she’s not ready for anyone new after that. Instead, it’s her grandmother who has multiple sex scenes. The film also has a positive example of a long-term lesbian couple and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.

Tammy was written by Melissa McCarthy and her spouse, Ben Falcone. Falcone also directed the film. McCarthy recalled on Ellen that one reporter complained about Tammy that “he said basically I’m only a good actress when I look attractive and my husband shouldn’t be allowed to direct me because he let me look hideous. I said, ‘Would you ever say that to a man?’ and he said, ‘Well, I mean, you looked really bad.’ I said, ‘Just know that every time you write stuff, every young girl reads that and they just get a little bit chipped away.’ I just think we tear down women in this country for all these superficial reasons, and women are so great and strong.”

The film contains comedy and some parts are hilarious but most of the jokes are a softer sort. It’s more reminiscent of the kind of film that Bill Murray has down to a science and is almost always nominated for awards for doing. It begs the question…is the difference Melissa McCarthy? If Tammy had been about a male, like Bill Murray, or even a thinner female, would it still have been marketed as a silly fat person goes boom film?

McCarthy and Falcone are currently in production for a new film collaboration, Michelle Darnell, where she’s a successful business woman who’s just been released from prison for insider trading. It’ll be interesting to see how this film is marketed and received.


Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick

Husband and wife teams can make it easier to break through the traditional Hollywood sexism that prevents women from earning a chance behind the scenes. Another example is Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. Together, they run Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Inc.

While Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Inc. started off as headquarters for all their various comic book series, now it’s also a television production company. The couple has signed a two year deal with Universal Television that’s going to start with an adaptation of The Wicked + the Divine. This series, by Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, concerns an occurrence once a century where immortal Gods are given mortal bodies and two years on Earth in them. Its success lies in the cheeky humor, fun characters and artwork that feels integral to the story rather than an afterthought. The series also has a variety of characters of all colors, cultures and sexual orientations, including the Gods themselves.

Former Ancient Egyptian Goddess


There’s no word on where it or their adaptation of Sex Criminals will end up but hopefully, they won’t end up against a television executive wanting either series to be watered-down or white-washed.


Victoria Hand with a really large gun

Victoria Hand

With most of the country celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriage and more and more fictional examples happening in pop culture, when is Marvel going to have a live action LGBTQA member?

In the comics, Victoria Hand is a lesbian and was in a relationship with Isabelle Hartley who also appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. On the television series, there was only a suggestion or two of their familiarity, nothing more. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly,  executive producer Jed Whedon explained about their relationship that “there were versions, but it started to be irresponsible if we addressed it to not address it with more weight and time and energy.”

Fellow executive producer, and spouse, Maurissa Tancharoen added, “and then we would’ve been known as the people who killed off two lesbians on the show.”

Because being known as the people who killed off two lesbians without even acknowledging their relationship status to each other is so much better?

So far Hartley and Hand are the closest fans have come to a LGBTQA character, but Kevin Feige was asked repeatedly over the weekend during the Ant-Man press interviews about whether a LGBTQA character would appear in a Marvel film soon.

Billy and Teddy

Hulkling and Wiccan of the Young Avengers

With Collider, Feige wanted clarification that by “soon”, the reporter meant the next ten years. Then, Feige replied, “I would think so, for sure.”

This is the answer that the Internet seems to be celebrating but this is the answer he told Peter Sciretta of Slashfilm the same day, “The answer is, there is no reason why that can’t happen any time soon. You know, we pull the characters from the comics, for the most part, and they’ve been forging new ground for decades in the comics. They’ve been very progressive in the comics. And even more recently in a very important and progressive way. And we keep track of all of those things and are inspired by all of those things, so I’d love it to find an organic, meaningful and natural way for that to happen at some point in the not so distant future.”

Marvel fans may recall that in August 2014, Feige was asked when Marvel was going to have a female lead and responded, “I think it comes down to timing, which is what I’ve sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it…It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have — which is a very, very good thing and we don’t take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that’s because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don’t know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we’re playing right now.”

Two months later, he announced Captain Marvel for 2018 so perhaps there’ll be a film in 2019 or 2020 but…it’s far more likely that Feige is trying to pacify the masses the same way he’s spent almost a decade claiming that either the Black Widow film could happen or wasn’t actually needed.

Now kiss!

On the other hand, when Hayley Atwell was asked at a fan panel last Saturday which sexual orientation that Peggy Carter would identify as, she replied, “Peggy would identify as bisexual.”

Will this be seen in season two of Agent Carter?

By the way, DC is kicking their ass in representation. Constantine was the title character of his own show and bisexual and all three of DC’s other shows have LGBT characters, too.


On Sunday will be the World Cup finals between the United States and Japan. Prove writer Andy Benoit wrong that not only are women’s sports worth watching but some times…they are WAY more fun than the men’s sports.

Next week…

Where are the female scientists in entertainment?


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