Jodie’s fat-decline storyline in ‘Pivoting’ is careless and destructive

Three minutes into Pivoting, Ginnifer Goodwin’s character, Jodie, announces she’s “finding back in condition and observing a trainer.” Her buddy just died, so she would like to commence residing her “finest everyday living.” But she’s paying out funds for claimed trainer so her painfully uninteresting spouse, Dan (Robert Baker), will not locate out.

It was my initial time looking at Goodwin on display screen considering that she starred in the 2011 rom-com Some thing Borrowed (which I confess, I have observed lots of moments given that then), and I will have to say, she seemed fantastic. So great that on hearing her character say she needed to get back again in condition I believed, “Justification ME?” and feared her words could lay the groundwork for a more substantial weight-associated storyline. When Jodie’s good friend Sarah (Maggie Q) supportively chimed in to say, “You know the only bodyweight you have to reduce is Dan?” I breathed a sigh of reduction. Sad to say, my aid was shorter-lived.

The Fox single-digicam comedy follows 3 longtime pals — Jodie, Sarah, and Amy (Eliza Coupe) — as they struggle to cope with the dying of their finest close friend, Coleen. Each mourning her loss in distinct ways, they all set out to turn into new versions of themselves. Sarah abandons her profession in medication and starts doing the job at a local grocery retail store. Amy attempts to expend much more time at house with her kids. And Jodie decides she needs to lose fat and have an affair with her scorching coach, Matt (JT Neal).

I had large hopes that Pivoting could support fill the Great Girls void in my lifestyle, especially because the solid — which includes Amy’s husband, Henry (Tommy Dewey), and Coleen’s husband, Brian (Colton Dunn) — are charming as hell. But its initially year remaining me conflicted. The the vast majority of Pivoting‘s antics are amusing, and its people have a ton of potential. But the demonstrate is undermined by a careless and dangerous weight-loss storyline. 

Jodie’s weight-loss storyline is generally applied as a implies to examine her conflicted inner thoughts about her marriage, but writers could have accomplished their sought after result — an affair — without having creating her harmful obsession with slimming down. If they felt the body weight-reduction storyline was important for Jodie’s arc, they need to have set out to better recognize and portray the complexities of eating plan tradition and taking in disorders on display. Fairly than increase to the obstacle, writers crafted a storyline ripe with offensive, more than-the-top body weight jokes that perpetuate extra fat-shaming.

The actuality that excess weight reduction arrived up three minutes into the series wasn’t the only pink flag in Pivoting‘s pilot. Later on in the episode, Sizzling Coach Matt asks Jodie if she’s shed any kilos not too long ago. She describes she’s down a pair and is doing the intermittent fasting he advisable, to which he replies, “You are gonna be again in your skinny denims in advance of you know it. You are gonna look so freaking sizzling!”

His remark rudely implies that Jodie isn’t currently “so freaking scorching” at her recent excess weight, which she is, and it encourages a ridiculous, worn out correlation involving attractiveness and trim physiques.

Three episodes afterwards, the flirty conditioning classes in between Jodie and Matt culminate with a spontaneous kiss in his car. There is certainly a crystal clear spark concerning the two, but before you can thoroughly appreciate it, Jodie frantically asks, “Can I drop 8 extra kilos first just before we do additional?” The two shift in for one more smooch, and Matt pulls absent to utter one particular of the most egregious traces of the sequence: “Can we make it six kilos?”

Not only is this joke outrageously unfunny, it can be also straight-up insulting and lowers a critical difficulty to a punchline. No make any difference how it is packaged, commentary connected to ingesting disorders can be triggering and destructive to individuals. It can also perpetuate unhealthy concepts about body weight reduction and harmful relationships with foodstuff. A June 2020 report cited by the ANAD (Countrywide Affiliation of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Diseases) predicts that 28.8 million Individuals, or 9 p.c of the U.S. inhabitants, will have an having ailment in their life span. It also notes that feeding on conditions are the cause of 10,200 fatalities per 12 months. If writers are going to craft characters who have health and fitness objectives or established out to convey to tales associated to physique impression and disordered feeding on, it can be vital that they do so responsibly — particularly on a present with as considerably get to as Pivoting, which airs in a primetime slot on a main cable community and streams episodes on Hulu the subsequent working day.

It can be distinct that Pivoting‘s writers need to shell out closer notice to, and in some instances alter, the way the men and women in Jodie’s everyday living respond to her self-deprecating responses and obsession with bodyweight. Not just Matt, but also her pals.

In the pilot, Jodie forces her legs into a pair of skinny jeans to impress Matt. When she can’t get them off, she phone calls Amy and Sarah for backup, and they wind up taking her to the ER immediately after accidentally puncturing her leg with a pair of scissors. It really is meant to be a comical small place, but it can be also a excellent possibility for Jodie’s buddies to intervene and remind her that she does not require to shed weight or suit into a certain pair of trousers for anybody — that her worth, in fact, isn’t really relevant to what she weighs at all. They do not.

The deficiency of concern about Jodie’s nicely-being — especially from Sarah, who’s committed her lifetime to medicine — is disappointing to say the the very least, while it is really truly worth noting that Matt, Amy, and Sarah will not generally fortify Jodie’s detrimental body image reviews. Various episodes present them responding with beneficial, supportive affirmations, these types of as, “You might be not cumbersome, you might be wonderful” and “I assume your entire body is astounding as is,” but their help is inconsistent and their messages are blended.

Two women (Ginnifer Goodwin who plays Jodie on "Pivoting" and Eliza Coupe who plays Amy) sitting on a set of bleachers. One woman (Jodie) is eating a slice of pizza.

Amy, say anything!
Credit score: Michael Becker / FOX

The way Pivoting‘s writers craft Jodie’s behavior and mentality as it relates to excess weight reduction is also of issue. In Episode 6, Jodie tries to velocity-drop a pound to meet up with her goal fat so she can feel self-confident sufficient in her entire body to slumber with Matt. Immediately after her partner displays her a modicum of kindness, she feels responsible and miracles if cheating on him would be a miscalculation. Instead than have a experienced dialogue with her coach (or anybody!) about all those emotions, the writers selected to give her an exaggerated response. Jodie dumps a bunch of bread and chocolate into a huge bowl and begins ravenously shoveling carbs into her mouth in hopes of speedily getting pounds back again, so she won’t have to sleep with her coach just but. We afterwards see her taking in a pizza by herself, and telling Amy, “I’m binging. Will not choose me.” Amy ignores the comment and starts conversing about herself.

In the chilly open up of the subsequent episode, Jodie reveals she’s acquired four pounds in a 7 days. Amy tells Jodie she’s attractive, and Jodie replies, “Ugh, I was so close to my purpose body weight, I experienced a thigh gap and every thing. And now my affair with Matt is place off till TBD. I can’t even match into the leggings I want him to rip off of me and throw throughout the home in reckless abandon.”

Just when you assumed the scene couldn’t get any even worse, Jodie claims, “Ugh! I have gotta go. I wrote ‘thigh gap’ on my calendar.”

A screenshot of Jodie's calendar, which shows she wrote the words "thigh gap."

Jodie, nooooooo!
Credit history: SCREENSHOT: PIVOTING / FOX

Probably the writers are hoping to be edgy by putting a certain design of humor that presents off majorly fed-up Lousy Moms vibes, but it arrives across as far more lazy than funny in regard to Jodie’s storyline. The tone doesn’t sit proper with the conversations we are at the moment acquiring about diet program lifestyle, which have moved significantly outside of what we see in this exhibit. You can find been this sort of a promising drive for physique positivity and illustration more than the earlier number of a long time — online, onscreen, and in the media — and it’s troubling to see an if not delightful present be dragged down by a reliance on offensive, out-of-date fat-linked plot factors.

It’s comprehensible to respond in uncharacteristic approaches soon after a loss. But using a subject as fragile as food plan culture and consistently imposing the view that a slim girl desires to get rid of pounds — or, frankly, that any woman desires to shed pounds! — to get that message across is just improper. If Jodie’s need to “get again in form” does exist to emphasize a larger battle with self-really like or disordered feeding on, I hope writers halt brushing her struggles off with humor and ensure she will get the assist and assist she wants. If this storyline is definitely almost nothing extra than a byproduct of misguided crafting, nonetheless, I would urge the team to start out giving Jodie more considerable storylines that aim on her crumbling marriage, her affair, motherhood, her need for independence, or her unfulfilled profession ambitions, fairly than her bodyweight.

Viewers bought a glimpse of Jodie’s storyline probable in the refreshing, genuinely fulfilling Time 1 finale. The episode confirmed Jodie and her husband at last possessing an genuine conversation about their marital issues, and her and Matt hanging out with out positioning focus on her fat. I hope writers continue on to try for that kind of depth really should Pivoting be renewed for a next time.

Jodie justifies superior, and so do viewers.

The initial season of Pivoting is at present streaming on Hulu.

If you sense like you’d like to talk to somebody about your eating actions, contact the Countrywide Taking in Condition Association’s helpline at 800-931-2237. You can also textual content “NEDA” to 741-741 to be related with a qualified volunteer at the Disaster Textual content Line or go to the nonprofit’s web page for extra information and facts.

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