Sisterhood Blog

Babes in Boyland: The Sisterhood Goes to Hollywood

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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Jewish actresses Roseanne Barr and Fran Drescher

Jewess with much attitude (and talent) Roseanne Barr wrote in this recent New York magazine article about the rampant sexism that exists in Hollywood even two decades after she tried to take down those barriers with her television show “Roseanne.”

Barr rightly takes credit for developing and starring in “television’s first feminist and working-class-family sitcom (also its last).” Now, as she points out in the piece, “all over the tube you will find enterprising, over-medicated, painted-up, capitalist whores claiming to be housewives. But I’m not bitter.”

Roseanne is the kind of feminist who leads some to think feminism is always preceded by the word “angry,” but she’s also the kind of woman who makes the kinds of waves that change things, at least a little. She’s also the kind of feminist who has embraced plastic surgery, though the photo of her with the New York magazine story shows a woman who appears to look her age.

Looking her age puts her at odds with many of the women I saw this past weekend on a jaunt to Los Angeles.

I was accompanying Boychik as he competed in a classical singing competition, kind of the “American Idol” of the opera world. He did a beautiful job and was one of nine finalists in the national competition, out of over 1,000 classical singing high school students who entered, and some 300 who made it to the second round.

While there we found time to tour a bit of la-la land and saw, in addition to the beautiful beaches and mountains, Hollywood and the posh shops of Rodeo Drive, all of the young things and wannabeyoung things with perfect bodies in miniskirts and summery tops, with long, straight hair and much plastic surgery in evidence — including, at the Polo Lounge, an elderly redheaded woman who could not have been a day under 75, but had a strangely firm jawline and that “plastic surgery face.”

We’d hoped for a celeb-sighting. But even during lunch at the Polo Lounge, despite the fact that my sources say Jennifer Aniston and Gene Simmons were staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel, we did not see anyone we recognized.

I finally got my celebrity-sighting back at the baggage carousel at JFK. There was Charles Shaughnessy, best known for playing Maxwell Sheffield on the 1990s sitcom “The Nanny,” opposite Jewish actress Fran Drescher. If ever there were a feminist sitcom, “The Nanny” was not it. In fact, with her tight dresses and mini-skirts, and carefully blown-out hair, she looked more Hollywood than Queens (where the actress and character were both from).

I got to chat with the handsome actor while we waited for our luggage. He was headed for the Boston area, where next month he will play Professor Higgins in a revival of “My Fair Lady” another show that wouldn’t make it onto a list of feminist favorites. And that seems a fitting ending for my Hollywood story.


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