Not So Desperate Housewives Essay

1511 words - 6 pages

When Desperate Housewives first aired in October of 2004 on ABC television network, the controversial pilot episode sparked interest in over twenty-five million viewers. On a seemingly quiet, average suburban street titled Wisteria Lane, four women – Lynette Scavo, Gabrielle Solis, Bree Van de Kamp, and Susan Mayer – became instantly connected by the suicide of Mary-Alice Young, a fellow neighbor and poker club member. While the reason behind Mary-Alice’s death remained unknown for several seasons, the show began to unfold a juicy plot chocked full of the stereotypical drama of suburbia; intermixed between love triangles and tragic affairs, more unusual and mysterious events began to occur. Although Desperate Housewives attempts to portray gender equality and society’s ever-altering perception of gender through the use of jobs, relationships, and melodramatic occurrences, this façade does little to hide the traditional roles of each gender and how those roles complicate the daily life of the families of Wisteria Lane.
Thinking traditionally, certain careers women commonly choose come to mind. Curiously enough, the careers of the women on Wisteria Lane entertain those exact jobs. Susan Mayer, a young mother of a school-aged boy, is sporadically employed as an art teacher. When she gets fired from a conservative private school for being too outspoken, her family loses their house and Susan takes up making soft-core porn to supplement her husband’s income. Bree, a divorced and fiercely independent redhead, owns her own catering business. Don’t be fooled by this seeming break in traditional gender roles; writers try to give her more job equality by making her an powerful owner, but the fact that she owns a food business, which is traditionally a woman’s role, is ironic. Gabrielle (Gabi), the most traditional of all stay-at-home mothers, was a prior runway model that gave up her perfect body in exchange for two chunky, less-than-average looking daughters and a powerful, business-savvy husband with a felony record. The most traditional of all gender roles is that of Lynette Scavo. Once a powerful and highly successful businesswoman, she gave up her budding career to raise 5 children, including twin boys. Janet McCabe, author Reading Desperate Housewives: Beyond the White Picket Fence, states in her critical analysis of the show: “As if to emphasize her ambivalence a montage sequence featuring her washing dishes, feeding the baby and cleaning chocolate fingerprints off the window is accompanied by Mary Alice’s voiceover, sarcastically informing us that her friend used to ‘see herself as a career woman and a hugely successful one at that but she gave up her career to assume a new label – the incredibly satisfying one of full-time mother, but unfortunately this new label frequently falls short of what was advertised’” (McCabe 123). Lynette faces the same challenge many middle-to-upper-class women debate daily – raise the kids or find happiness in a...

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