For my first essay in this course, I decided to write about how the role of the housewife is perpetuated in the sitcoms of the 1950s. I talked about how I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, and the Honeymooners all portray women as being only successful and only allowed in the private sphere and not the public.
I happened to be watching Friends when I noticed a line that directly correlated with this representation of 1950s housewives. In episode 6 of season 4, Phoebe and Monica are deciding to start a catering business together. When they finalize their plans to do so, Monica says, “I can cook and you can take care of the money”. Phoebe responds to this saying, “Ooh! It’ll be like I have a wife in the 50s!”
I thought that this line was a perfect way to encapsulate the point I was trying to make in my essay. I had said that 1950s sitcoms and the stereotyping of the characters in these episodes helped to enforce the existence of gender roles in that time period. Phoebe’s exclamation about gender roles which is made in a 1990s episode about 1950s wives only reinforces the fact that this stereotype became a reality. She does not say a housewife on a 1950s sitcom, but a 1950s housewife in general.
This fact made me think about how people powerful TV is. It made me think about how people take what they see portrayed on TV and apply it to their real lives. It is both scary and exciting how powerful TV is in this sense.