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Double take: Is Variety’s Melissa McCarthy cover sexist?

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Actress Melissa McCarthy’s new comedy “Tammy,” which she co-wrote with her director and husband Ben Falcone, opened Wednesday. Variety put the couple on the cover of its June issue with the title “She’s Sleeping With Her Director.”

At first glance, I’m pumped to see Melissa McCarthy on Variety’s cover. She tends to be typecast as a loose cannon, but she’s gaining traction as a physical comedy star (no easy feat when blockbuster movies waste female comedians on tripping and general clumsiness).

It’s too bad Variety doesn’t take any of this into account with its feckless headline, which sexualizes McCarthy but professionalizes Falcone.

The kicker is that McCarthy and Falcone’s story is actually great. The two grew up in Illinois where she once wore goth capes and wigs and he wore his trusty “A Clockwork Orange” t-shirt. They only saw each other at neighborhood parties until they reconnected as adults.

Variety writer Ramin Setoodeh still depicts McCarthy with the same saccharine imagery of every Hollywood profile and manages to squeeze in the inevitable “work-life balance” paragraph at the end. But he mostly focuses on the couple’s collaborative relationship, which kicked off when they were Los Angeles improv performers in the 1990s. Now, a working (together) couple, they take turns scribbling script notes on napkins and holding hands between takes.

Cute, right? So why does this lovely feature get wrapped up in a big sexist bow painting the duo’s working relationship as a sleazy Hollywood romp? Scandalous relationships sell magazines. And in Hollywood, marital teamwork just isn’t sexy. Apparently sexism is.

She The People writer Nia-Malika Henderson begs to differ. Read her take here.

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Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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