Sophia Vergara’s Gloria quickly became one of the most beloved characters on the show, so that stopped seeming odd very quickly...so much so that ABC decided that it was no longer something to worry about. They’ve always struggled to find a good time-slot partner for the show, so eventually they decided to create a new show simply called “Trophy Wife”. But the show was a flop, folding after one season.
ABC forgot that most audience members love Gloria despite the fact that she’s a trophy wife, not because of it. The show actually does a lot of subtle work to undermine our ingrained cultural aversion to this situation.
First let’s look at “Trophy Wife,” because Malin Ackerman’s character embodies many of our misgivings about such an arrangement:
- The husband’s two ex-wives are still in the picture, and they’re presented as caricatures. This should make us prefer Ackerman, but instead it offends us, because we feel that we’re being nudged to prefer the young and beautiful one, against our natural inclination.
- She has young stepkids who need her help, but she doesn’t really care, and she actually endangers them, passing one off to her rotten friend, who goes to a bar while the son is locked in a car outside. Hilarious!
- Most importantly, Malin Ackerman is just not a warm performer. Casting goes a long way.
- Jay’s unseen ex-wife has moved away, so no one is being shoved aside or getting offended by Gloria’s presence.
- Jay’s kids are grown and don’t need a mother around.
- Gloria brings her own adorable son into the marriage. If she really did marry Jay for money (and that possibility is kept open), it was so that her kid could have financial security, not herself.
- Jay is defensive about the arrangement, but Gloria isn’t. Defense invites offense. As a result, we are somewhat judgmental of Jay, but not Gloria.