The Washington Post

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


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.

[posttv url="" ]

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

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.