Becker (1998 - 2004)
Commentary by Steven B. Goldsmith, April 2002

The situation comedy Becker revolves around a doctor, his office staff, and his friends at a local dinner. In an ensemble where most of the cast members are unlikable, one stands out as particularly mean and offensive. The Bob character is played by Saverio Guerra, a short Bronx man who likes to speak about himself in the third person and has no discernable morals. He lies, steals and cheats at every opportunity. He is also lazy, barely willing to perform his duties as building super. Like most portrayals of short men on television, he has never been in a stable relationship; preferring cheap sex where he can find it. The implication is that no woman would want to be in a relationship with a man who is so short and obnoxious. Television women don't seem to mind tall obnoxious men and short nice men is a Hollywood oxymoron.

The problem with Bob and other short male characters like him is that he is cubbyholed in to a very narrow range of attributes. While other television actors are able to play a variety of likable and unlikable roles regardless of their physical appearance, short men seem to always play essentially the same character; offensive with no redeeming qualities. The problem here is not that Bob is the butt of short jokes. In a comedy any physical or personality characteristic is a valid target and in this show the blind and the stupid are similarly teased.

When will we see a television series with a short man in a major role who just happens to be nice and honorable?