Alessandra Stanley has responded at length to criticisms that her article about Shonda Rhimes was offensive and ill-conceived, a criticism supported by the public editor of the Times, though apparently not by Stanley's direct editors. Stanley writes:
In the review, I referenced a painful and insidious stereotype solely in order to praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows for traveling so far from it. If making that connection between the two offended people, I feel bad about that. But I think that a full reading allows for a different takeaway than the loudest critics took.
The same applies to your question about “less than classically beautiful.” Viola Davis said it about herself in the NYT magazine, more bluntly. I commended Ms. Rhimes for casting an actress who doesn’t conform to television’s narrow standards of beauty; I have said the same thing about Helen Mirren in “Prime Suspect.”
I didn’t think Times readers would take the opening sentence literally because I so often write arch, provocative ledes that are then undercut or mitigated by the paragraphs that follow. (links below)
Regrettably, this stereotype is still too incendiary to raise even in arguing that Ms. Rhimes had killed it once and for all.
Here are some random examples.
I guess that's on all of us for missing how arch Alessandra Stanley is and not on her to stop writing such terrible leads followed by terrible stories!