Let’s talk about fat jokes: you’ve written about not wanting any fat jokes about pregnant Amy next season, but what if the punchline ends up back on the teller some how? Such as what if Furlong starts to make one, then has it confirmed that Amy is actually pregnant and becomes deeply uncomfortable? A very un-Furlong reaction could be funny.
You’ve hit the nail on the head – the key with all of those lines is…who is the butt of the joke? Who is the audience MEANT to be laughing at?
To illustrate further, in season 1, there’s a conversation between Dan and Jonah where Jonah talks about Amy going “menstrual” because she’s being targeted by the press, and Dan laughingly agrees. And yet, that ‘joke’ never particularly bothered me, because the context makes it very clear that Jonah and Dan are the assholes, and that the joke is more a symptom of their…immaturity and arrogance than anyone else. We’re not supposed to be laughing at AMY in that joke.
As much as they gradually developed Dan away from making the more…overtly misogynist jokes (Jonah, however, has remained terrible), one of the things the show was very, very sharp at in the past was depicting low-level gendered abuse both Selina and Amy had to put up with, and especially Amy, because she’s less powerful than Selina. I think they’ve lost a LOT of that subtlety.
For instance, during the Committee hearings in 4.09, Amy is referred to as shrill, by a male committee member. And, I have to say, I think that was a knowing use of language by the writers – Amy’s testimony is no worse than Jonah’s, that’s for certain, and yet she is singled out with a term that has almost exclusively used against women. It might not be a laugh out loud moment, but it seemed a very sharp observation of how gender inflects the treatment of women caught out in political scandals.
But in 5.09 every member of the cast, except Dan, refers to Amy as shrill. Now maybe, maybe, this is intended to illustrate that same gendered dynamic, and yet…every time I watch it, I feel like the show is encouraging me to AGREE with that assessment. As in, it’s funny that Amy is shrill, not that the bullshit gender stereotypes that underlie politics means Amy will be called shrill no matter what she does.
Similarly, Dan makes a joke about Amy’s age in season 6 (episode 5, I think) – in a season where there had been multiple jokes about women and ageing, and in which Dan had already commented about having Amy when she was much younger (and, it’s implied, more attractive than she is now). Now, as it turns out, the joke was nonsense – Dan jumped into bed with Amy at the very first opportunity she gave him – but at the time he made it that context was completely absent. As a result, there’s this…mush, which at least leaves open the interpretation that the show agrees that it’s FUNNY that Amy has aged and is therefore less fuckable in Dan’s eyes. And that is…a pretty hateful line for the show to take, and not one I had expected up to that point.
To quote Nicola Murray, I don’t want to come across all “death by chocolate isn’t a pudding it’s a serious issue” but there is a way to writer those jokes that leans AWAY from the sexism, and not into it, and I feel like the show has started to fudge those lines in a really unpleasant way in the last year or two.
(I have a similar feeling about the racist jokes they’ve written for Ben, though I think they’re anywhere near as muddled. The problem there is that, by giving those jokes go ‘Sad Ole Uncle Ben’ and only having them called out by precious millennial “too lazy to learn to drive drunk” (which was a GREAT line), the show is…softening its own critique, implying that the racism isn’t THAT bad, it’s just Ben being Ben. Shawnee’s reaction to Uncle Jeff is much more effective version of the same thing, because the show isn’t confused about how we’re supposed to feel about either of them)
Long answer over…your joke doesn’t bother me because it’s very clear that Furlong is the butt of the joke. But given that they have written multiple lines about Amy being fat or ‘beefy’ (and that those lines came immediately before and after Anna Chlumsky had a baby) without it being clear that Amy isn’t the butt of the joke…I have my doubts that they’ll write anything that clearcut.