“It’s like Tootsie but with age.” This is Sutton Foster’s explanation of her new television series in which she plays a 40-year-old mother “disguising” herself as a 26-year-old in order to find work. There is so much wrong with her comparison. Granted, I haven’t seen her series as it hasn’t aired yet, but Tootsie was not a movie about a man disguising himself as a woman to find work. It was about MUCH more and was much more complicated than Foster’s statement makes it seem. I’m sure this series will be a cute series, but I’m struck by the disconnect between Foster’s assessment of her series and the cultural significance of Tootsie.
In Dustin Hoffman’s 2012 AFI interview, the actor said he had an epiphany in preparing for the role.
“I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out… There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
Tootsie is not about a man disguised as a woman in order to get work, as Foster suggests. It is about a man discovering that both perception and gender are wholly different for each sex. It is about coming to understand that, culturally, there are different struggles for each gender and some, if not most, of those struggles should never HAVE to be faced at all, because one side or the other has created them to keep someone else down.