Trying the "Desperate Housewives" thing again
Okay, this is the original article at PopMatters by Raphaël Costambeys-Kempczynski that inspired me to write this. He lives in England and watches "Desperate Housewives" and wonders a bit if this show means that American women are a bit crazy. (Answer: no more than anyone else.) He also has the misfortune to read Brent Bozell's idiotic call for boycotts against the advertisers on "Desperate Housewives" because the show doesn't promote conservative values enough, which is the only reason for television to exist in Bozell's mind. CZ doesn't get what Bozell's beef is--to him, the show is conservative, since the women on it don't really question the basic values system where women's role is to labor in the home without a paycheck.
Oh silly educated Europeans! In Bozell's world, anything that suggests that a housewife's life is anything but the pure bliss that can only come from ecstatically giving her entire self over in the service of others is man-hating feminist propaganda. This show in particular is blaphemous--it suggests that women occasionally feel that children are a burden, or that they even, and I know it sounds crazy but it's true, make jokes.
These wives and mothers hate their lives. "Ease up, you little vampire," says one as she breast-feeds. Her older boys are so nasty they run over ladies with shopping carts. The divorced housewife tells her 12-year-old daughter, "Tell me again why I fought for custody of you?" The girl says, "You were using me to hurt Dad." Mom kisses her on the forehead: "Oh, that's right."
Cracking jokes is the sort of non-feminine behavior that we surely don't need to be exposing Americans to in primetime. Bozell also has issues with female anger in its purer form.
Scary Bree accidentally gives onions to her onion-allergic husband Rex. He said, "I can't believe you tried to kill me." She casually replies, "Yes, well, I feel badly about that."
Bozell neglects to mention that the husband in question is cheating and asking for a divorce. I would be thinking murderous thoughts, too. Of course, I'm free to do so since I'm not beholden to think of my man as the head of me and god as the head of him. It's a little difficult, I imagine, to question your own head's decision to cheat and then run off.
Well, Bozell can bitch and call for boycotts all he wants, but I doubt the networks are going to care very much for his preferred programming "Contented Housewives", a show that follows four women around their homes as they prance around them with a baby in one arm and a feather duster in the other, humming hymnals in a contented voice. Oh, I know there'd be some excitement on church Sundays, when she has to calm an exasperated husband down--in fact, every time the husband shows his face, there's a chance for exciting emotions like frustration and anger! But I don't think the networks will buy it.
Frankly, I don't think the show has a political ax to grind. Overtly conservative shows like "Seventh Heaven" suck, so they couldn't go that route. And if the housewives were always questioning their position in life, it wouldn't be believable, since they had to have bought into the whole suburbia thing to be there in the first place. It's a soap opera that treads into satiric territory. I would say they skewer the right a lot more, but that comes with the territory of writing about the suburbs. It would ring hollow if everyone in the big houses in the 'burbs were a bunch of liberals.