Weeds

In the episodes of the television program “Weeds”, we saw female characters with a good deal of importance in her surrounding neighborhood.

The main character, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), was a widowed mother of two. This drew similarities to two programs we viewed previously in class, “Alice” and “One Day at a Time”. Both of these shows included single mothers. In “One Day at a Time”, Ann (main character) was a divorced mother of two girls. Alice was a widowed mother of a son. In order to take care of their children, Ann asked for help from her neighbors and Alice brought her son to work with her. In “Weeds”, Nancy used different methods.

The cast of the hit TV Series "Weeds"

Nancy resorted to selling marijuana in order to take care of her children. This isn’t the first time we have seen a woman take part in an illegal action. In “Roseanne”, we saw Roseanne and her husband smoke weed in their bathroom. But smoking once is much different than relying on dealing weed to maintain a living. There was another example of intertextuality between these two shows as teenage sex was addressed in both programs.

Up to this point, we have not seen a female character have as much pull in a community as Nancy. Although the reason for it is illegal, many people in Nancy’s part of town rely on her for something. We also saw another powerful woman in Heylia. Heylia was who Nancy relied on to acquire the weed she sold. Heylia was also a single mother with a firm control of the weed business in town. She was an assertive business woman who always made sure her things were taken care of.

In the episodes of “Weeds” we watched, I found many examples of intertextuality between a number of shows we have previously watched. Nancy was important in her community because of the weed she sold.

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Sex and the City

We watched an episode of “Sex and the City” in class Monday. Before we viewed the episode, we established that the four female characters are all different so we can negotiate between the different types of women.

This program puts a lot of emphasis on the power women have over men because of sex. At one point in the episode, Miranda had stated how her boyfriend (Skipper) had become basically obsessed with her. Carrie narrated her concern about this situation. “I was beginning to fear that Miranda’s sexuality was overpowering poor Skipper”, said Carrie.

Sex and the City girls (from left) Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte and Carrie

The character Samantha was very open about her use of sex to get what she wants. She expressed how she felt that exploitation of men is perfectly legal and also stated “Money is power, sex is power.” There were more examples in the episode of the sexual power women have over men. Some of these examples include, “Men give, women receive, that is biological destiny” and, “The cunt is the source of all power and beauty”.

“Sex and the City” is a program that makes it very clear how obsessed our society is with sex, how women have a lot of pull because of it and that is isn’t necessarily bad for women to use sex to get somewhere.

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Roseanne

We watched a compilation episode of “Roseanne” in class. I found this television series to be quite similar to a program we viewed earlier, “Maude”. Some of the commonalities I picked up on are that both shows are named after the mother, who clearly holds the power/authority in the family.There was also some intertextuality between the two shows. There was a reference to “Maude” when Roseanne was debating having a child at an older age.

In the episode we watched, there was also a lot of new topics that we really haven’t seen to this point. Some of the matters brought up included puberty, periods and masturbation. These can certainly be viewed as controversial matters to be brought up on television.

Television series "Roseanne" star actress Roseanne Barr

These controversial topics were addressed later in the episode when the famous female characters of past television shows (ex: “Leave it to Beaver”) made an appearance. One of the “television mothers” mentioned that she did not approve of what was on Roseanne’s show (girls kissing girls, foul language and teenage sex). The TV mothers also made it clear how shocked they were of the authority Roseanne had. One of the women made the following statement: “The name of the show is after you? The wife? I didn’t know they could do that.” Roseanne replied, “That’s the difference between you and me. In my show I’m in control.”

This intertextuality between “Roseanne” and the famous television mothers on past television programs made it clear how different things are these days and how much more power women have today.

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Alice/One Day at a Time

In the episodes of “Alice” and “One Day at a Time”, we saw some things we haven’t seen thus far in class.

In the show “Alice”, the main character, Alice, is a single mother raising her 12-year-old son on a waitress’ wage in Phoenix, Arizona. Sexual advances were being made during the entire episode; both towards Alice and her co-worker, Flo. In one instance, an old man walked into the diner and grabbed Flo’s rear-end (Flo didn’t seem to mind). This old man also asked Alice to go “in the back room” (for a sexual favor) in exchange for a candy bar. Later, the old man actually snuck in the back and made a move on Alice.

This has been the most aggressive sexual advances we have seen so far this semester. Neither of the female characters were outraged by these advances. Alice rejected the moves that were out on her when she faced them. But Flo seemed to just accept them. She was not upset at all when the old man grabbed her behind. Flo also openly used her sexuality to acquire a piano for Alice to play in the diner. Alice seemed to be a sexual object while Flo was more of a sexual subject.

In the episode of “One Day at a Time”, we saw another single mother in the character, Anne. Anne was a 34-year-old mother of two, who had recently gone through a divorce. She was most certainly a sexual object. Anne was being “hit on” nearly the entire episode. There were two characters trying to make advances on Anne were the building superintendent, Schneider, and a friend David. Schneider was the comic relief whose advances never seemed to be all that serious. Meanwhile, David was rather sincere in his motions toward Anne. Though David used comedy as well in his flirting with Anne.

This was the first episode that addressed the traditional age difference between a man and a woman. David was a good deal younger than Anne (around 8 years). Anne used this as a reason to refuse David’s attempts to sway her. David challenged this notion by saying, “Why does the woman always have to younger than the man? Where is that written?”

Anne also made a point that, as a woman, she never really made any decision either for herself and for others. She said that the first 17 years of her life her father made all of the decisions and the next 17 years her husband made all the decisions. She admitted that she was struggling with the increased responsibility but she did not shy away from it or give up. This appeared to me to be a challenge to the notion that men should make all the decisions for their families. Anne showed that it may be difficult at first, but women can certainly take care of there families by making important decisions.

Another thing I noticed was the when Anne described herself after the divorce she was “Annie Romano (maiden name); liberated women, master of her own fate”. This made me think that she did not think she was in control of her life when she was married. Perhaps she felt that she couldn’t do anything for herself or had no control over what happened to her due to the dominance of her husband. This description made divorce seem like a freedom for women.

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Maude’s Dilemma Parts 1 and 2

Today in class we viewed 2 episodes of the show “Maude”. The main character, Maude, had quite the description in the textbook “Where the Girls Are”. In the text, author Susan B. Douglas, described Maude as “outspoken, sharp-toungued, and sarcastic, eager to take on any man in a debate about politics and especially about the status of women”. Judging from the episodes we viewed in class, I would have to agree with this depiction for the most part.

The only thing I would add to this portrayal of Maude is that she is eager to confront anyone with her opinion, not just men. Maude’s character is certain animated. I found her to be quite funny. She always seemed to have a sarcastic, yet witty, comment for everyone.

Maude, played by Bea Arthur, and her husband Walter (Bill Macy)

The book also touched on some of the unattractive characterisics Maude displayed. It’s true that the deep voice, height, and confrontational personality may be seen as masculine qualities. Maude also displayed a male-like independence with her attitude throughout the show. But Maude also valued her husband Walter’s opinion and desires. This was apparent when she asked Walter what she should do about the pregnancy and offering to have the baby simply so Walter could be a father. So Maude clearly cared about her husband, but she was clearly appeared to be the dominant force of the relationship.

The biggest feminist of the show was Maude’s daughter, Carroll. Carroll was constantly verbally expressing her feminist views. A good example is when Carroll, Maude, and her friends Vivian and Arthur were playing cards discussing birth control. Carroll asked Arthur “When are men going to start taking responsibility for birth control?” Also, later in the episode when Walter worried about the pregnancy, Carroll told him “Nothing is going to happen to you, you’re not the one who is going to carry this baby.”

Maude was a strong, independent woman that had no fear of speaking her mind to anyone. Carroll was a big supporter of women indepency and openly called out the men in the show of their lack of responsibility in the matter of pregnancy and birth control.

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Bionic Woman

In the episode of “Bionic Woman”, the main character, Jaime, was portrayed very differently than the women we previously seen in other television shows. In this television show, the woman is the one with all the power. In the television shows we watched prior to the “Bionic Woman”, the female characters have primarily been inferior to the men in the show.

Actress Lindsay Wagner who plays Jaime Sommers in "Bionic Woman"

Jaime was clearly the star of the show. She was the one who solved all the cases and did all the fighting. She also seemed to be the “hot shot” cop when she was in the police office. It is safe to say that Jaime Sommers was the opposite of the character Donna Stone in the “Donna Reed Show”. Though Jaime did all the “butt-kicking”, she also was quite feminine at the same time. Jaime was very beautiful, hence the beauty contest she was a finalist of in the episode we watched in class. This was not a case like “Miss Congeniality”, where it took a lot of work to make Jaime seem feminine. The same woman that can lift a car was the runner up in the Miss America Beauty Contest. Jaime Sommers was the whole package in this television program.

Though Jaime Sommers was clearly the most powerful female character we have seen thus far in class, there were hints of the stereotypical woman we have seen in the past. I also noticed the beauty contest’s description of an extraordinary woman. According to this organization, an extraordinary women have to be beautiful and have good poise.

“Bionic Woman” definitely provided the most prominent female character we have seen thus far. Though there are some similarities to the weak roles the women have played in the earlier shows we have watched, “Bionic Woman” provides a huge leap forward the in the independence of women on television.

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Bewitched/I Dream of Jeannie

The episodes of “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” were quite different than the TV episodes we have previously viewed. The women in these episodes seemed to be more independent than the women we have seen in episodes such as “The Donna Reed Show” and “Father Knows Best”. The women characters in “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” were not as reserved as the female characters were portrayed in the earlier episodes.

As we discussed in class, the woman character that seemed to be the most independent in the two episodes was Endora from “Bewitched”. She was single and seemed to make most of her decisions based on pleasure. Endora did not seem to have any restrictions. Samantha (Endora’s daughter, wife of Darren) was not as free as Endora. She could be as free as her mother, as her sudden trip to Paris indicated, but Samantha chose a “normal” life. This life that Samantha chose was similar to the life Donna had in the “Donna Reed Show”. This lifestyle consisted of the wife (Samantha, Donna) staying home, tending to household chores, and taking care of her husband when he came home from work.

The character Jeannie, from “I Dream of Jeannie”, was similar to Samantha. She had magic powers just like Samantha, but didn’t care to use them whenever/however she pleased. Jeannie was told many times to go and do whatever she wanted but refused. Jeannie was so infatuated with Tony (the man who resurrected her from her bottle) that she didn’t want to go anywhere. She could have left and been free, but she decided not to.

Jeannie was the most provocatively dressed out of all the female characters we have seen so far. Even when Jeannie wasn’t in her “genie attire” she was wearing one of Tony’s shirts with no pants. This is likely one of the first portrayals of women as sexual objects, which is so commonly seen today.

 

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The Goldberg’s/ Father Know’s Best

Today in class we watched an episode of The Goldberg’s and Father Knows Best. The episode of The Goldberg’s was focused on the daughter of the family, Rosaline, trying to start a career in singing. It was actually more of her mother, Molly, basically forcing her daughter into a career that she felt was good for her. It seemed like Molly was trying to live through her daughter. She clearly enjoyed the whole process much more than Rosaline did. This reminded me of Dina Lohan. Dina Lohan, mother to Lindsey, has been found to be clearly more interested in partying with her daughter Lindsey than to take care of her alcoholism.  Another way to look at it is to think of parents that use their childrens’ talents for personal gain (ex. Joe Jackson, Christopher Culkin).

The episode of Father Knows Best was a very big example of sexism. The daughter of the family, Betty, signed up for an internship-like project to work as an engineer on a surveying crew. Nobody in the entire episode, other than herself, thought she could be an engineer, let alone wanted her to be one. Betty had to use her initials (B.J.) just to be accepted for the project. Betty’s supervisor, Doyle Hobbes, was extremely condescending towards her the entire time she was working. He assumed she didn’t know how to do one single thing and asked Betty questions like “Why are you here?” and “Do you hate being at home?”. The rude comments were so bad Betty decided to walk home.

Later, Hobbes visited Betty’s house to speak with her. Betty was hiding from him because she didn’t want to see him. In the meantime, Hobbes spoke with Betty’s father. Hobbes asked Betty’s father “What do you think about a girl taking a man’s job? It just doesn’t seem right.” I understand that there are certain roles that women typically carry out an there are certain roles men typically carry out, but this was ridiculous. Everyone in the episode was so cruel and condescending towards Betty. Not one single character gave her a chance. This was a good depiction of the discrimination women have endured in our country.

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Donna Reed Show/ Gilmore Girls

In class we watched an episode of the Donna Reed Show immediately followed by an episode of Gilmore Girls. The Donna Reed Show episode’s main point focused on expectations of the “perfect wife”. I actually didn’t view this episode as a depiction of what the “perfect wife” was supposed to be at that time in America. From my perspective, Donna Reed was being taken advantage of because she was so generous/nice. The clothing and language used in the episode was definitely different from how it is today. But what occurred in the episode still happens today. People are taken advantage of everyday.

The episode of Gilmore Girls we watched was directly connected to the Donna Reed Show. The one character, Rory (I believe), got aggravated with her boyfriend because he supported the concept of a woman like Donna Reed. Meaning that he thought that a woman preparing a meal for the family and doing chores around the house was acceptable. The couple got into a fight but later resolved it after a very elaborate “Donna Reed Dinner” constructed by Rory.

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