Something I find kinda dangerous about this trope is that it contends that women do not look at physical appearance at all. I'm sorry, we do. When presented with two guys with the exact same personalities, qualities, imperfections and all that shit, if the only distinction between the two is that one is more physically attractive than the other, which one do you think we're going to choose?
Not to mention, the concept that all guys are entitled to a hot girlfriend as long as they're "nice", as if they don't have to put any work into themselves or the relationship. A guy can be the nicest guy in the world, but if he's an ugly slob who rarely showers and can't hold down a job, he's gonna have a hard time getting a woman.
In most of these shows, the ugly husband isn't a "slob who rarely showers and can't hold a job". Although fat and lazy, there is nothing to indicate that the main characters of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and King of Queens have poor personal hygiene, and all of them have pretty steady employment (Peter's only had two or three "real" non-cutaway jobs over the whole series, Homer's only had the nuclear plant unless an episode specifically calls for him to work elsewhere, and Doug has the delivery company). And these shows often show that the couple are very much in love despite looks, so obviously the guys had very compatible personalities to their women.
Real Life examples of this trope seem to boil down to the fact that a man has to work a lot harder to obtain a woman of exceptional aesthetic qualities. If you don't work extremely hard on your looks, then you have to work hard enough to out-earn other men and thus be attractive for that reason. You could have a golden personality, but that is only secondary to your other more superficial traits. Sucks, doesn't it?
Why is it that in many shows that have this, there is sometimes the aesop that "Looks aren't everything", yet there's the implicit assumption that just because the wife is hot, that makes her automatically good?
See answer to question below: people can't stand actually ugly women, for some reason. Beats me.
Probably something to do with social standards that state that male uglyness is more widely acceptable than female, i.e., nobody wants to look at an ugly woman, but a hideous man is acceptable, and sometimes even funny. Unfortunately, it's not on my power to change that, I also get majorly bugged by Hollywood Homely + Beautiful All Along combos.
The Social Biology thing seems to indicate that women seek mates on resource control cues and men seek mates on fertility cues - and in most cases fertility cues (long, shiny hair, large breasts, well formed limbs etc. etc.) are what we define as beauty. That's the background behind the old and/or ugly rich guy with the beautiful wife - his wealth and/or status give him the resource cues to attract a mate with equivalent cues of the opposite gender.
Yeah, that holds merit in societies (and periods of history) where women are/were economically dependent on men. Evolutionary psychology would have us believe it's still the case, but in societies where women have more economic freedom, they're more likely to hold men to a higher standard of beauty. Bear in mind, too, that male attractiveness can say a lot about his wealth, status, or usefulness as a provider.
A man's best quality is his personality, a woman's best quality is her appearance. Ugly women have nothing to offer and seriously, how can we believe any man would date them in the first place?
This troper hopes to any deity out there that the above troper is being sarcastic. Although in television, there is a sort of limit based on stereotypes: Ugly guys are jerks or funny, sexy guys are jerks, Romantic False Lead, and/or a Canon Sue, ugly girls aren't as fun for the male audience to look at even if Nerds Are Sexy, and pretty girls are... well, more fun for the male audience to look at. Really, there's examples of Ugly Wife Hot Guy played for just as much humor, but it's less common than Hot Guy Revealed-To-Be-Hot Fiancee.
This troper thinks the above troper is either being obviously sarcastic or just pointing out the actual reason behind it — i.e., the "in-show" reason — without pointing out that that's not how it works on real life. It happens...
I think they wanted the remark to come across as a Warped Aesop.
This troper has noticed an odd trend (which he himself falls into)-if an ugly girl is a genuinely nice person, any decent man describing her and pointing out she's less than a looker feels bad about it. Contrastingly, if a girl is a bitch, describing her as a cow is the easiest thing in the world. It seems there's just a psychological need to connect "pretty" and "nice", which probably goes some way to explaining why this trope happens-dating/marrying an ugly guy is a good shorthand to tell viewers the instant she comes onscreen that, fitting with her outward appearance, this woman is a kindhearted woman who isn't shallow in the slightest, without having to go to the trouble of writing scenes where she behaves this way.
This troper gets a similar feeling whenever she has to point out the not-hotness of anyone, regarless of gender, and attributes the guilty feeling to the fact that you're not complimenting them. Nothing to do with pretty = good, nobody likes to be told they aren't physically attractive, so whenever someone says their friend isn't attractive they feel guilty, just as they would if they were pointing out the person was stupid.
I know a lot of ugly guys who mistakenly think they're simply "too nice," for that very reason.
It bugged me, too. On The Sims, though I have a semi-Take Thatinversion, where the woman is the ugly one, though she's very sweet, and very cool. Her husband, on the other hand, is total Mr. Fanservice. I may have broken the aesop a little, though, by having the daughter take after her father.
I'm pretty sure it's more linked to the fact that BOTH genders are more concerned about the appearance of women than men. Why do the majority of magazines (regardless of target gender) have women on the front? Because men want them, and women want to compare themselves/their friends to them.
Yeah women want to compare themselves to a standard of beauty a lot of attractive people can't reach, that will then have been airbrushed and then they'll feel bad about themselves. I'd say it was more forced upon women than we realise.
Nobody ever said it was a good thing.
What bugs me about this trope is the implication that even ugly guys deserve hot girls, because every guy should have a sex goddess, wheras less attractive females don't want or need love at all, right?
Well, there is that whole thing about how a woman should always say she "doesn't need a man to be happy", but we as guys do need chicks to be happy.
Yeah, but can't the ugly guys go shopping in their own league?
It may have to do with social roles of males and females. It's always up to the guy to win the girl's respect while her task is to decide if this particular guy deserves her attention, at least I've never heard of a girl asking guy out and buying him expensive gifts (in fact it would be very unnatural) So unattractive guy winning attention of a girl that could easily pick any other man to say "yes" to makes sense as a story about overcoming your limitations (you know, like that donkey becoming Budweisser mascott etc.), which wouldn't really work the other way around. Yeah I know, double standards, but there are lots of double standards both ways that we tolerate (like the penis size mentioned above) and there will always be as long as there is Mars and Venus.
Overall point about social rules notwithstanding, I was surprised that someone would think it's 'very unnatural' for a woman to ask a man out or buy him expensive gifts. I know plenty of girls (myself included) who have done just that, and it was not considered in the least bit strange - though I accept social norms differ greatly from place to place.
Also there are plenty of romances where neither of the main characters are trying to win each other's respect they just both get closer over time.
Why is this trope sometimes listed for above-average looking guys and their "more attractive" wifes? Are fans really that jealous that they couldn't get with their crush that they think no man could ever match up to her?
Yeah I kinda see your point, someone even put this guy◊ as an example of an ugly guy with a hot wife◊. Personally they look the same to me.
It probably has something to do with how men are generally viewed to be less attractive than women.
Who's to determine that the guy is even "ugly"? I mean, I find a lot of "homely" or "weird looking" men to be much more attractive than the generic male model type or obnoxious "pretty boy" type that so many women seem to drool over.
That's why I (the trope creator) kind of like to edit out poor examples when I can- the man should usually be actually ugly, not just kind of dorky-looking or odd. It's easier when the husband is fat (very few women find fat guys attractive), overly-hideous, or much older. I created this trope because of Everybody Loves Raymond using it, and even that is a more minor example, as despite Ray's big goofy face and nose, he isn't as hideous as some examples.
I don't think Ray Romano would qualify for anything less than average, much less hideous.
It IS mentioned in-universe, however, as an example ("I just did forty sit-ups for a man whose stomach looks like a deflated clown balloon!"). And just watch the episode where they try to seduce each other in nighttime-wear — the audience certainly noticed the difference between them.
I've noticed many couples in real life where the man was a lot better looking than the woman. Anecdotal, sure, but it happens enough for me to notice it.
That's because Most Writers Are Male who derive catharsis from their often non-existent or wrecked love life by making their physically unattractive heroes date a beautiful woman.
It would be interesting if one day there were to be a major television show or film aimed at young people starring a Hot Guy, Ugly Wife as the lead couple. If the guy were depicted as suave and bad-boy-esque—though not necessarily unsympathetic—it would subtly underscore the kindness of our studly hero: here is a guy who presumably can have any hot chick he wants and yet chooses someone below him looks-wise, if you will, because he cares more about her character than her appearance. At the same time, because many people still equate looks with goodness (in both sexes), and also if our hero were presented as an all-around Alpha Male while his plain/"ugly" woman is a timid working girl, it would be interesting to see how such a dynamic would be interpreted by audiences within the context of patriarchy in our society.
As in Real Life, they would assume he's using her.
Call me naive, but do people in Real Life actually assume that about a couple where the guy is the better looking one?