"Is it her fabulous comic timing, her over-the-top facial expressions, her cute-as-a-button retro flip? Or is it the slight hint of a bad girl that lies just under the surface? The promise of a tattoo under that checkout girl uniform? The possibility of a motorcycle parked out back?" asked one blogger late last year.
Witness her famous tricked-out name tag:
That other woman seems as if she's met a hidden side of her own personality in Flo, does she not? The side of her that never worries about the neighbors doubting her middle-class status somehow? Yet she has met her savior! Half-whispered revelations have redeemed her. This anonymous woman, who, I suspect, has often said "not now, honey, I just fixed myself up," has had the Flo side of her self stirred up by the interaction, and so her husband will have red, sleep-deprived eyes at the office tomorrow morning. And a sore sense of satisfaction deep inside his underwear. Promotion can't be far behind with such an attitude!
Flo herself, AKA Stephanie Courtney, fails to understand her own potency.
"I don't know what it is. The way I play her, she's pretty much the most asexual thing on TV right now. I think the Geico lizard puts out more sexual vibes than Flo does. But I do think the cavemen are totally crushable," the lady herself is quoted as saying. LA girls! Even transplanted ones! It's almost embarrassing to apply the adjective, "superficial," although that is the quality that drove this blogger out of the area.
Then she also says, "Flo could be one of my improv characters, always on and sort of cracked in a weird way." Then again, "It's me at my silliest," she says. "You start off with a script, but at the end they usually let me put a little zinger in there. We put a little mustard on it. That's when it gets fun."
What can I say but "duh?" That's the mustard of pure womanhood! Must I call up the ghost of Freud, long-dead, in discussing hot dogs? I'm happy, at least, that Ms. Courtney can express her repressed humanity on stage.
I was glad when that question was answered. Flo went through a tame period in which her somewhat-restrained enthusiasm disappeared, and I wondered whether the horrid transformation was at the behest of the actress, formalized in some new contract meant to further her career.
I'm now happy to conceptualize her appeal as the spontaneous humanity of one woman winning out over the oppression of corporate America, and thriving within its context, even. That's a turn-on! Flo is a hero that commercialized post-post-feminism could never grasp. Behold, her return to enthusiasm with full force! Lo, the sacred reference to tacos, and the rapport with a male customer:
Come on, now; that's sex! Desire is not a momentary sensation, but something to be consciously maintained. Whenever I'm stuck sitting with a TV junkie, with no excuse to run away and experience the world around me once more, I can only hope for a little redemption in the form of Flo's sexual-angelic presence.
You know, I think her retro/Bettie style is at least part of the key to her appeal. Where have all the rock-a-Betties gone, long time passing? They've all gained even more weight, and somehow they all look even more like ultra-hot Betty Rubbles. The old wisdom that people who like food also like people survives. They have kids, a husband, and fellow PTA members who pointedly glare at their tattoos within their peripheral vision. Why? Because Betties always liked men. They were one of the truly good things about conservative America in the 2000s. Sorry, though, they've all been claimed. Is a repulsive generation of Andrea Dworkins to follow? I wouldn't be at all surprised.
We lose. Insert an 8-bit, humorous end-of-game screen capture meant to help us ease our pain through humor. Try to conceal the anxiety that the Middle East knows more about sex appeal, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of humanity. In spite of the few "gurus" who have been very poorly socialized in terms of gender, and so stomp on sexual differences.
Part of the secret is that she seems available. She hasn't been claimed yet. There's still a woman out there who's looking for a man, who will not flake out after years of marriage, and who will be worth struggling through life with. Few of them may be found today. Thus empires fall.
Yes, oh anti-essentialists, cloistered in the best universities of the USA, out of touch with reality, the rest of us are looking for some support in perpetuating our kind. You're doing your job miserably.
Therefore Caligula unites with Drusilla. Thus empires fall. And historians make their reputations with bizarrely convoluted theories of your fall involving the latest axe-grinding anxieties of the personality types that are attracted to academic jobs.
I can't help but think that if Flo fully understood her own appeal, the great tremor in history centered on the USA would last longer, and would thrive longer too. If the continuation of humankind depends on sexual diplomacy, and if that art has long broken down in our culture, how could we possibly hope to limp along for many more years?
Me wanting Flo, me feeling HOT HOT HOT!