Pour yourself a heaping glass of white wine...
November 10, 2014 12:31 PM   Subscribe

On The Cult of Connie Britton: "But loving the Britton of today is tantamount to ignoring much of what Hollywood has tried to impute as ideal. She’s still thin, white, beautiful, and straight, but she’s the thing that the vast majority of mainstream media pretends doesn’t exist: a woman over 40. More specifically, a woman over 40 whose image combines the sexual and the maternal, the ambitious and the empathetic. " Connie Britton is a late bloomer (NYTimes, 2013). Things I could have said to Connie Britton when she came into my coffee shop the other day.
posted by ChuraChura (42 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like Connie Britton. I loved her in Friday Night Lights. Then I realized she was one of the hot chicks in Spin City.

She’s still thin, white, beautiful, and straight, but she’s the thing that the vast majority of mainstream media pretends doesn’t exist: a woman over 40.

I don't know what the point of this article is. She was a kinda trampy character and did the job in Spin City. On FNL, she actually had depth. Is that the point?

She's always been hot, and now she's over 40 and still hot. And this is something new in Hollywood?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2014


I love Connie Britton (although I kind of forgot to watch Nashville), and yes, I have a "What Would Tami Taylor Do" t-shirt.
posted by suelac at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was like "who?" And then I went to her wikipedia page and I was like "oooooh . . . .who?"
posted by The Bellman at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's weird to see things like this about someone I knew in college. She was super nice, funny, smart, etc. And just a person - just another student.

I'm glad she has such success and good work.
posted by rtha at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2014 [28 favorites]


The utter fullness of the hair is like a testament to a life well lived.

I have to reevaluate my entire life now.
posted by vorpal bunny at 1:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


I've always really liked her, because she just seems no-nonsense and no-bullshit, even outside of the characters she plays. I never thought much more about it, but this really resonated with me:

She makes getting older seem incredibly appealing — not just because she looks stunning, but it’s the sense of presence and surety she projects. The combination of confidence and beauty, of wisdom and maturity.

That's it. There aren't many women-over-40 characters on TV who are people a real-life woman over 40 would actually want to emulate. The two-over 40s in popular shows who immediately popped into my head are Katy Sagal and Jessica Lange, who play basic anti-heroines. Aside from Britton and Julianna Margulies, what other strong over-40 women characters are there whose strength is a winning quality rather than an off-putting one, or just a flat-out stereotype?
posted by mudpuppie at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


I don't know , I think the point seems pretty clear. Connie Britton has not just late-career success, but is thriving. The Tami Taylor/Connie Britton brand, down to the glass of wine and y'alls, really resonates with a lot of women, from young 20-ish women through her own peer group.

Also she's in the rare spot of being able to define her work on her own terms, which is unusual for women over 40 in Hollywood without 20+ years of success (i.e. Julia Roberts).

Originally, Britton’s Nashville character was framed as the aging has-been to Hayden Panettiere’s Taylor Swift-esque ingenue, but Britton hated the dichotomy. She fought the writers to cut scenes, like one planned for the premiere, in which she did the stereotypical pull-at-your-face-and-look-sad routine. She was “furious” about the trajectory of her character, especially, as Britton explained, given what had recently happened in her own career: “That’s not even who I represent as an actor,” she told the New York Times. “My life started being awesome five years ago.”

posted by sweetkid at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2014 [22 favorites]


Her Tami Taylor character was amazing. If you are weird enough to get the DVD extras from Friday Night Lights check the out-takes she's in. What a wonderful actress, playing a great character.

I want so much to like Nashville, but it just keeps getting worse and worse. In an interview before the show started she had a list of stupid things she didn't want to happen in that show. I swear they do them all, right down to the stupid soap opera music before the commercials.

But if she's ever in another show, I know I'll watch it, just for her.

I didn't know there was a cult, but I plan to join.
posted by cccorlew at 1:11 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved her in Spin City. (Great little show, at least pre-Charlie Sheen.)

I really need to watch FNL one of these days.
posted by kmz at 1:12 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just watched the first season of American Horror Story, which she was in, and was disappointed with the Crazy Things Happen To Tami Taylor storyline, but it wasn't her fault, and the thing seemed to fall apart without her in those middle episodes as much as it was already a mess.

I would have loved it if she'd come back, glass in hand, and been all, "Come on, what y'all ghosts doin', cut it out now" and the whole season just ended.
posted by sweetkid at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was just coming into say the same, sweetkid. I feel that her character got a super short shrift in AMS, s1. (This was a show that had suckered me in with its insanity and loopiness but that last episode of the first season pissed me off so bad, I refuse to watch any subsequent seasons. I know, I know.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2014


I really need to watch FNL one of these days

You really should; it's terrific. Even the 2nd season, some of which fans pretend to forget happened (just the way the writers did), has some great bits. And Tami is always awesome.
posted by suelac at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I want so much to like Nashville, but it just keeps getting worse and worse.

The travails of network broadcast tv, and avoiding cancellation.

Just like Parks and Recs pivoted from an uncomfortable "The Office" mockumentary, softening the "Election" tone towards the main character (an improvement), Nashville started wanting to be a serious cable drama but pivoted towards a soap opera in all but name (a vast degradation).

The show had a lot of potential as the former, but not a lot of room for nuance in a prime time slot. As a music geek, its a drag because there's a lot of real drama potential for the former. Now its as subtle as a sledgehammer. T-Bone was wise to drop the gig, and since its his wife running it, he still gets the checks.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:41 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


*so* much love for Tami Taylor chez paws. Almost considering starting on Nashville just to get a little more.

If you are in any way at all considering watching FNL, do it do it do it.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:45 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


FNL was a great show with great characters, and the greatest character of all was Tami Taylor.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Further, if you have enjoyed FNL already, may I suggest you look up a few of the joint Connie Britton / Kyle Chandler interviews, which are all completely delightful.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:54 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


may I suggest you look up a few of the joint Connie Britton / Kyle Chandler interviews

Some of that delightfulness comes out in the oral history Grantland published, Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like Connie Britton because the characters she plays seem human.

Which is so rare these days unless you watch European TV.
posted by srboisvert at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


She’s still thin, white, beautiful, and straight

Well, thank goodness she's still thin. I can rest easy now.
Ugh.
posted by tunewell at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just love Tami Taylor so much (y'all.) I think the first article really covers her unique appeal - she's so warm and yet so strong. Tami Taylor absolutely seems like a real person I want to believe lives in the world, in bathed in continual golden sunset, smiling behind her cheap aviators.

Depending on your age, you want her to be your mom or your best friend - someone who would represent such love and such resilience in your life. Someone to laugh and cry and complain and dote with.

I like Alicia Florrick just fine but I don't have any mushy feelings about her. I'd love to be seated near Diane Lockhart at a luncheon to bask in her sharp wit, but I don't want to drink wine and snuggle under a fluffy throw with her.

And honestly, if Connie Britton is just a hot Hollywood actress to men, but some sort of aspirational yet accessible presence to women, that's fine with me.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tunewell, I think the idea was that those are all standard elements of the Hollywood ideal, not that she was "still thin" despite her age. Dammit I'm not sure I've explained that too well.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think I may be the last person who is still enjoying Nashville. I mean, it's soapy and it's not serious and the music was better in the first season, but I'm still enjoying it, and I think that both Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are very good in it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:39 PM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think the cult part comes from her playing Tami Taylor mainly, and our love of her relationship/marriage with Coach Eric Taylor. He truly loved and respected her, and their marriage, and it was easy to see why based on the Tami character. Tami was amazing.
posted by discopolo at 2:40 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Personally, I like her because I find her to be a under the radar great actress. Her characters aren't %80-100 her own personality, she shows a giant range of emotion, and while I didn't particularly care for FNL, I freaking loved me some Tami Taylor.

She would have blown the doors off of Jerry Maguire though. Shame we didn't get to see that one.
posted by Sphinx at 4:30 PM on November 10, 2014


I think I may be the last person who is still enjoying Nashville.

I still like it. It's got flaws, some pretty big, but it's fun.
posted by drezdn at 5:22 PM on November 10, 2014


I LOVE HER.

I may have made a Tami Taylor fanpage on Facebook. *ducks*
posted by liquorice at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


FNL was a great show with great characters, and the greatest character of all was Tami Taylor.

I think she benefited in FNL from being the character who would talk sense into the head of other characters, most of whom were on the edge of doing something stupid all the time. She also represented mercy, like if it wasn't for Tami Taylor, everyone would stay at their cranks grinding the gears of the world and appeasing their inner demons until everyone was paste.

Compare to Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, whose character was great because all the other characters thought they were in a movie about themselves, and her movie was like, "Oh, fuck all you fuckers and your stupid horseshit," which made her character seem more likable somehow. I like the characters who in a way seem to know what story they are in and act against it.
posted by fleacircus at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Friend and producer Sarah Aubrey told the New York Times magazine that “in my experience of watching Connie Britton’s dating life, it has not been Connie getting beaten out by 25-year-old girls, let’s leave it at that.” Or, in Britton’s words, “Let’s put it this way: The older you get, the easier it is to date younger men. There are more of them.”

Okay, I still love Tami and Eric Taylor's marriage and think it's an ideal partnership, but I really like how Connie Britton is living her real life. A certain number of my friends refuse to date guys younger than they are for whatever reason, then a larger portion of my friends are dating/marrying guys quite a bit younger because it doesn't really matter all that much.

What I'm trying to say is, where can I get a Connie tee shirt?
posted by discopolo at 9:12 PM on November 10, 2014


I pretty much want to be Tami Taylor when I grow up.
posted by palomar at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2014


I never followed "Friday Night Lights," but I've liked Connie Britton in various other things I've seen her in, even if the show, like "Nashville," wasn't particularly up my alley.

Re: other "strong" women in primetime TV series - CBS clearly is hoping that "Madame Secretary," starring Tea Leoni (age 48) as the Secretary of State will be a success on the order of "The Good Wife."

Then there's the new ABC series with Viola Davis (age 49) playing a law professor, which I haven't seen, although apparently her role in it is not as large as some people think it should be. And Halle Berry (also 48) had a job this past year starring in a summer sci-fi series, also for CBS. Don't know if either one of these characters were intended to be thought of as worthy of emulation, though both could be described as "strong."

In shows that have been around a bit longer, there Law & Order's Mariska Hargitay (50) and CSI's Elizabeth Shue (51), who both play kind of flawed-hero types, stereotypical in TV-cop ways. And both shows are ensemble-cast and formula driven, though Hargitay does get top billing now on hers.

Also, let's not forget Linda Hunt (age 69), admittedly sui generis as an actor, who plays a spymaster on "NCIS:LA." That's kind of fun, even though the show is crap.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:04 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


She EATS A BRAIN for God's sake
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:44 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm an Anne Helen Petersen fangirl. Her analyses of stars and stardom, most often intersecting with issues of feminism and media history, are brilliant.

As for Britton, I've not seen AHS or FNL, but the first season of Nashville was my guilty pleasure. I read that she was once Lauren Graham's roommate, which makes me inordinately happy.
posted by dumdidumdum at 2:48 AM on November 11, 2014


I don't know about other slightly past mid-40's women but I personally am bemused and slightly unsettled every time it becomes obvious that other (mostly younger but not always) people don't see me as just a person, doing my thing, waiting for the great leap forward and not settled into a set role in life because I happen to have been alive for almost five decades so I should have it all worked out by now. It's weird when people presume things about you based on your age! I feel guilty for all the times I did it when I was younger.

As for Connie Britton, kudos to her for finally getting recognition for her body of work. And she does have great hair, it's true. Great hair is not to be sneezed at.
posted by h00py at 3:54 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Re: other "strong" women in primetime TV series - CBS clearly is hoping that "Madame Secretary," starring Tea Leoni (age 48) as the Secretary of State will be a success on the order of "The Good Wife."

So far I'm quite enjoying this show not just because of Tea Leoni's character but Bebe Neuwirth's and Patina Miller's as well. Three interesting female characters, that play off each other. They're all developing into nuanced characters. It pass's the bechdel test with flying colors. I was a bit concerned going in that there would be a lot of rah rah USA USA type writing but I'm finding the setting and the political issues just the background for the stories of the characters themselves. I appreciate that. It's also nice to see a 'strong' female character that has a family and what appears to be a good relationship with her husband.

This show, plus The Good Wife make Sundays my new happy TV night. Thursdays with Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy is my guilty, delicious pleasure night. All shows that have lots of different female characters in them. Also in light of the OP, I just realized that most of Grey's female are all played by over 40 or close to 40 actresses. Kerry Washington from Scandal is 37.
posted by Jalliah at 7:05 AM on November 11, 2014


Oh I got so into thinking about the women in the shows I watch I forgot to add my love for Connie Britton. FNL was great. I did watch most of the first season of Nashville but the show wasn't my thing. I stay with it as long as I did because of Connie.
posted by Jalliah at 7:08 AM on November 11, 2014


Thursdays with Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy is my guilty, delicious pleasure night.

The creator/show runner of those, Shonda Rhimes, is also an alumna of Dartmouth. Must have been something in the water in the 80s and 90s!
posted by rtha at 8:18 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I sorta wish Nashville would wrap up so that she could come back to American Horror Story.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:56 AM on November 11, 2014


I rank FNL as the number two tv show of all time, and the only thing keeping it from the top is The Wire.

If Connie Britton was not in FNL--if Tami Taylor had never existed, really, because there is no one else in the world who could have made that character what Britton did--it would never even crack the top 20.

I would happily watch Tami, Eric and Riggins just sit and bicker for the rest of my life.
posted by still bill at 10:35 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


RIGHT THEN FOLKS: When do we start the FNL re-watch on Fanfare?
posted by ominous_paws at 10:44 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Re: other "strong" women in primetime TV series

In addition to previously-mentioned Jessica Lange, American Horror Story also has Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, and probably the biggest bad-ass on TV right now is The Walking Dead's Carol, played by Melissa McBride.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:32 PM on November 11, 2014


RIGHT THEN FOLKS: When do we start the FNL re-watch on Fanfare?

I favorited that so hard that it favorited it, unfavorited it, then favorited it again.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:09 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love the show so much I'm scared to do it. WHAT IF I FAIL THEM.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:44 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


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