I learned several important facts about Connie Britton in her new Times profile. First, she has a 2-year-old son named Eyob who she adopted from Ethiopia. Second, her hair is as beautiful in real life as it is on TV. (Sigh.) I also learned that Britton is over 40—she’s 45, as a matter of fact. There was no way for me to miss this last fact, because the article could not stop talking about her age.
What’s interesting about the article’s age obsession is that it isn’t actually ageist. Writer Susan Dominus sets out to talk about how popular culture portrays women who are 40-plus, and how Britton is fighting back against those tropes. She writes that as Britton read early reviews of her new show Nashville,
She was particularly concerned about the way her character was being positioned — Connie Britton, playing an “aging country-music star,” a phrase she started seeing in countless blog posts and articles about the show
“I was like, the minute I’ve been referenced in writing as aging, I’m done,” she said. “I was furious about that.” She was also concerned about the plot, which early on had Jaymes on a downhill slide, losing ground to a young, blond crossover star played by Hayden Panettiere. That Britton of all people would be asked to play a character whose life seemed to fall apart at 40 struck her as almost perverse. “That’s not even who I represent as an actor,” she said, sitting back in her seat. “My life started being awesome five years ago.”
This is great stuff, right? Britton is not going to play your pesky little game, sexist culture that scares women into feeling old and unattractive and washed-up just because they get older, like all living things on this planet! (Seriously, the only alternative to getting older is being dead. These are our choices. Which is the cooler option, hmm, so hard to decide.) Anyway, Britton is having none of this ridiculousness. She’s hot and she knows it. She’s got a rocking career, a dedicated fan base, and–as the article takes care to point out–she’s not exactly hurting in the dating department.
And yet, Dominus winds up recreating some of the sexist tropes Britton is battling against in her own article. There’s the way she frames the star’s story in the first place: Britton as the late bloomer, the hard-working actress who lost out on a juicy role in Jerry Maguire and finally rose to fame almost 15 years later. “Connie Britton got over it a long time ago, the part that got away,” the profile begins. Continue reading