When This Is Us fans discovered that Chris Sullivan wears a fat suit to play Toby on the show, many people weren't happy. Toby and his fiancée, Kate (Chrissy Metz), met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting; weight and body image are a crucial part of both of their storylines. But plenty of fans wondered if Toby's character needed to be overweight — as if, because Kate was overweight, there was no possibility she could be romantically linked to a straight-sized person.
But Chris Sullivan defended his This Is Us fat suit during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Tuesday. The actor criticized people who he says find outrage to be a "hobby."
"I think that the show is just too good; they had to find something wrong with it," Sullivan said on the show. "We currently live in a culture where outrage is a bit of a hobby for some people. If they're not outraged about something, they're totally bored."
Sullivan added that the fat suit is "a costume" that lets him "travel back and forth through time when Toby was not as heavy as he is now."
His statement might be a hint for what's to come for Toby — we haven't seen him in flashbacks yet. But his defense also largely misses the mark. Criticizing someone for being "too easily outraged" is a way to dismiss their opinions or feelings without actually responding to them.
Tina Fey made a similar argument in 2015, when talking to Net-A-Porter about a controversial episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
"We did an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it 'racist,' but my new goal is not to explain jokes," she told Net-A-Porter. "I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. There's a real culture of demanding apologies, and I'm opting out of that."
Both Sullivan's and Fey's responses were to dismiss the critics without actually addressing the problems; if they took the time to consider the criticisms, they might understand where fans were coming from. It's not the idea of a fat suit that's the issue — the suggestion that Kate needs to date a bigger person is what people find fault with.
And in the Kimmy Schmidt episode, the worst part wasn't that Titus (Titus Burgess) believed he was a geisha in a past life — it was that the episode's resolution included the Asian-American characters deciding that they were too outraged. It was dismissive at best and offensive at worst, not unlike Sullivan's remarks. It's clear that Sullivan means well and is passionate about his show, but criticizing people for being offended isn't a great look.