In Hollywood when two famous people decide to end their long-running marriage, one of the first speculations to arise is fame envy. Was she mad that his career suddenly skyrocketed? Was he jealous over her headlines? This is especially true, of course, when one partner’s career has become significantly more visible and lucrative. And usually it receives considerably more coverage and analysis when the partner on top is the woman.
Last week Amy Poehler and Will Arnett announced they were ending their nine-year marriage. We knew her from Saturday Night Live, and significantly fewer of us knew him from Arrested Development. Ben Stiller once remarked, “They’re the funniest married couple I know.” It’s worth mentioning that Stiller’s parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara (still together and kicking) make up the husband/wife comedy team Stiller & Meara. Of Arnett and Poehler, Tina Fey said “They commit so hard, and they’ll do anything. They’re both fantastic-looking people, but they don’t care. They’ll look goofy.” And year after year, their peers selected each for Emmy nods. Even in lesser films or only marginally funny SNL, the energy and caliber of their talent was pretty evident. That somehow makes the news of their separation all the more bitter. In Hollywood, a bizarre but somewhat understandable concept exists – that divorce is somehow sadder when it happens to the very talented.
Yet despite this shared level of professional admiration and employability, the comparisons of individual success will be quickly drawn – both privately in the industry, and anonymously through the tubes of the internet. She is definitely the higher end commodity – both fame and salary wise. While they each currently headline their own NBC sitcom, her show Parks and Recreation is entering its fifth strong season. Arnett’s Up All Night, is going into season two this fall, however it’s widely believed that wouldn’t have happened without a timeslot shift behind The Office. That gulf represents a huge difference financially. Her pay day from the syndication package of Parks makes his take home look like Greece’s budget for space exploration.
His endeavors have, unfortunately, just never had her level of good fortune. Like many famous husbands before him, he seemed to always be relegated to the slightly smaller spotlight. No different then Nick Cannon, Kris Humphries or Barack Obama.
When a wife sprints past her husband in showbiz, it seems to immediately attach a stain to his career. Even in reality television, where careers are optional – Spencer Pratt was actually looked down upon because he was less famous for doing nothing then she was for doing only marginally more.
Kyra Sedgewick had never experienced fame to the degree that TNT’s The Closer brought her way, having watched it more from the sidelines while married to Kevin Bacon. As the pendulum shifted however, suddenly her paychecks were far bigger and more consistent. The same is also true of Matthew Broderick and Sara Jessica Parker. They didn’t host a personal fundraiser at their home for President Obama with Ferris Bueller money.
In any industry, a man earning less then his partner is susceptible to self doubt, insignificance and even possibly ridicule. Naturally that becomes amplified when TMZ is making puns about the situation. Many men simply have great difficulty swallowing this fate. So in showbiz, it often requires a more level-headed star who can accept having a more beloved and marketable name on the other pillow. That, or a perfectly content banana just thrilled not to be working at Toys R Us.
Clearly the trend is growing beyond Hollywood, as more and more women are now bringing home the turkey bacon. Despite new laws aimed at paying women equally in the US, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that it still remains at 77 cents on the dollar. So when a recent study by Prudential Financial found that most American women are the primary breadwinner for their household, it might just suggest women are now working harder for less pay.
Whether salary or envy played any role with Poehler and Arnett is anyone’s guess. The theory often overlooks deeper, more systemic problems – or flatly dismisses the concept of a garden variety breakup. Still, it’s an opinion that, evidenced or not, will be widely speculated on by fans, media and Beverly Hills divorce attorneys alike.
As the social norms of pay inequity slowly go the way of MySpace, more Alpha Females are emerging with bank accounts that can only be described as Amazonian. Still don’t worry too much for Arnett, as he’s highly respected, and employable. He’ll land on his feet – and in remarkably over-priced shoes.
Try These DiscoveryGames - discover yourself and your partner on a sexual, emotional and intellectual level and have fun while doing it.
Tantalizing Tokii Reads- to make relationship work into fun.
Touch base with Tokii. Get Together. Get Talking. Get Intimate. Join Tokii Today! Like Tokii on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Get inspired with Tokii Pinterest. Get a behind the scenes look at Tokii on Instagram.