Melissa McCarthy’s movies consistently make money. In fact, they turn handsome profits on relatively modest budgets. She just starred in her latest box office-topping comedy, The Boss. She has an Oscar nomination and an Emmy award to her name. And yet, she’s hounded by the same complaints from critics and those who cover the entertainment industry. She doesn’t pick the right roles, they say. She always plays the same character. She’s a fad whose time is running out. Where is all this doubt coming from? Mark Harris ponders the issue in a sympathetic Vulture article called “Why Does Hollywood Keep Disrespecting Melissa McCarthy?” First and foremost, Harris wants readers to know exactly how successful McCarthy has been in a very short span of time. “It is not just a remarkable run,” he writes. “It is literally a singular one.” Articles keep positing McCarthy as a cautionary tale, but the numbers don’t bear that out.
So what’s the problem? Why all the flack from the press? It’s not just run-of-the-mill sexism, exactly, Harris says. After all, by 2016, even staunch chauvinists know to disguise their prejudice in print. The difference with McCarthy is that she is markedly different, both in appearance and in taste, from the kinds of powerful women Hollywood likes, such as Reese Witherspoon and Charlize Theron. McCarthy is a new kind of star, and she has her own particular terms. “She wants to work all the time,” Harris writes, “and she wants to be the star, and sometimes she wants her husband, Ben Falcone, to direct her, and she wants the industry to recognize that she delivers.” That all sounds reasonable, but apparently in Hollywood, that qualifies as radical.