I was watching an episode of ER this evening and noticed the Dr. Romano character. Dr. Romano is heartless, cruel, jealous, and sadistic. He possesses practically every negative trait in the book. Not ever having viewed an episode of ER, I was aghast at the manner in which the Dr. Romano character is portrayed. This is the worst example I have yet seen of the portrayal of a short man on TV. Here we have yet another portrayal of the angry short man venting his hostilities on others. He's also balding which I also think is no coincidence; you know - the 'short and bald' portrayal of short men.
In this episode, Dr. Romano offered the tall good looking Dr. Benton a job. Dr. Benton's reply was: "You couldn't pay me enough to work for you, you arrogant little prick." Later in the episode, Dr. Benton was discussing the arrogant Dr. Romano with Dr. Elizabeth Corday, a beautiful female doctor with a British accent. She refers to Dr. Romano as a horrid little turd. Always the word 'Little'. It's always little this or little that. The 'little' adjective is used to emphasize the inferiority of the short man and to reinforce that image in the viewers' minds.
I've noticed this in real life as well. Derogatory remarks about short men or short people are usually, if not always, preceded by the word 'little'. I've also heard a short person or two (or three, etc.) referred to as a 'little prick'. That is not a coincidence. 'Little prick' is a favorite 'little phrase' used by 'big pricks' in real life. The word 'prick' is a colloquial expression for penis.
In ER, Dr. Romano's height is always brought into the picture. This is so the viewer can associate his negative traits with his short stature. Even camera angles in the show, which are usually setup to give the impression that a shorter actor is taller, are positioned so that Dr. Romano appears as small as possible.
I can't imagine any minority, or disabled group being attacked in exactly this manner on a Television show without fear of some sort of legal reprisal.