I noticed that the TNT network has a new series, Franklin & Bash, a quirky dramedy about two unconventional lawyers (because let’s face it, the only way a TV series about lawyers will get green-lighted is if it is quirky and unconventional.) The show stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer. Gosselaar’s most famous role was on the hit 1990’s Generation-Y TV series, Saved by the Bell. Meyer’s most famous role was on the hit 1990’s Generation-Y movie, Clueless. The other common link between Saved by the Bell and Clueless: both casts starred three young males, and three young females. And now it is official: the males leads have had more successful, prominent show business careers than their female counterparts.
Maybe I’m way off on this, but I’m almost positive that if there was a poll taken in 1995 as to which cast members would move on to bigger and better things in Hollywood, the females would have beaten the males. Especially the Clueless trio since they were given the top billing. Back then, Alicia Silverstone was sitting on top of the world. And Brittany Murphy was a rising star, that was continuing to blossom. And there was hope that based on the success of Halle Barry, that a black, female actress like Stacey Dash might actually get a fair chance to make it in Hollywood. Alas, fate was as cruel as their fictional, Beverly Hills characters. Ms Dash, through no fault of her own, could not break that glass ceiling. At least she is back on TV in 2011, on a VH1 scripted(?) series. Ms Murphy, probably the most successful actress of this bunch, tragically died young in 2009; another starlet that fell victim to the excesses of show biz. As for Ms Silverstone, I guess she became another true Hollywood story, but without any of the drama or pathos. She just kind of faded away from our collective consciousness. Meanwhile, their male counterparts have been quite successful. We may not have seen Breckin Meyer on TV before F&B, but we have heard him. He has been voice acting for King of the Hill, Robot Chicken, and Titan Maximum. Donald Faison, had quite a successful run playing Turk on Scrubs. But without a doubt, the most successful alum of Clueless is Paul Rudd. As a regular in the Judd Apatow circle, he has been in practically every successful movie comedy in the past ten years.
I’ll admit that I was not a fan of Saved By the Bell. Nor did I know anyone back then who watched first-run episodes on NBC. So I have no idea which cast member was the most popular. (Okay, I can guess the least popular.) But when Tiffani-Amber Thiessen immediately joined the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210, you’d had to have thought that the females would outshine the males. It’s not a clear-cut as the Clueless cast, but as of 2011, the advantage goes to the males. Ms Thiessen never got any starring roles. And although she too is on a TV drama series, she is, at best the third wheel, at worst the beard in the not-so-subtle bromance between the male leads. (That itself is a whole other blog post by itself). Lark Voorhies had even less luck than Stacey Dash. Before I looked up her imdb profile, you could have convinced me that she gave up this business, and left Hollywood. I’m sure I don’t have to mention the incredibly bad movie Elizabeth Berkley starred that nearly ruined her Hollywood career. I guess I did. In her defense, I will say she did a fairly decent job on the English dub of Armitage III. (Much better than her co-star, the incredibly wooden Keifer Sutherland). Meanwhile, Mr Gosselaar is on his second TNT legal drama series, and Mario Lopez is on TV almost every day between his hosting stints of Extra and America’s Best Dance Crew. Finally, we all knew that Dustin Diamond was never leading man material, and I’m fairly positive that so does he. So I won’t dwell on his career.
It’s a very telling statement about Hollywood that when you look at these dozen career paths for the past decade and a half, that it is much easier to make it to the top if you are male, and how near impossible it is if you are female and African-American. I’m not sure if Hollywood is reflecting American’s attitude toward race and gender in the workplace or is a vital part in creating it. Or perhaps it is more of a statement on my lack of judging acting talent, especially when it comes to young adults.