We all know Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and others. Disney latched on to these classic fairy tales starting in the mid-20th century, and they began churning out princess after princess—treating these traditional stories as a marketers’ wet dream, resting on the faith that people will continue to not only buy into these stories, but also into the massive amount of marketing and branding that surround them. But just because these stories remain popular doesn’t mean they’re any less unsettling when you start to pick them apart. Even with the multitude of remakes (television, movies, Broadway, etc...), very rarely do writers and producers seek to infuse a little imagination and creativity, absolving these stories from the tired tropes they’ve come to push. So it was with a bit of trepidation and some skepticism that I chose to watch ABC’s new drama, Once Upon A Time. While the show hasn't worked out all the issues with "Disneyfied" fairy tales, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
To date, I’ve written 19 posts about representations of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care in the media. I’ve proffered examples from a variety of television series and films: Up All Night, The Office, True Grit, Glee, Knocked Up, Look Who’s Talking, The Rachel Zoe Project, Raising Hope, Modern Family, Parenthood, The Borgias, Dexter, Baby Boom, Life As We Know It, and Desperate Housewives. While a handful of these shows include women of color in title roles (none of the films do), only one of these women has children: Gaby Solis, a Latina character on Desperate Housewives.
This isn’t to say there aren’t any examples of pregnant/birthing/infant-caring women of color on TV, but it’s uncommon—and the scant representations that exist are usually rather limiting, to say the least.
In today's complex television landscape, it's easy to argue that traditional conceptions of "parenthood" are changing as we see fewer heteronormative nuclear families, which reflects demographic and social changes in the real world. Yet a closer look at parenthood in contemporary scripted television reveals that when it comes to family life, the perspective of the cisgendered male is still privileged above all others.
On the surface, there is nothing connecting the four episodes that aired on NBC this week. Annie's friends helped her move, and tweeted about it. Ben and Leslie's attempt to stay friends had them waging war on each other at a Model UN. And Dwight sexually harrassed Jim. Does it matter what Whitney did? (Fine, she played basketball.)
But if we had to stretch for a theme, it's interesting to note the lengths these characters are willing go to (blackmail, peace treaties, lie detector tests) to to strengthen their relationships. With that in mind, let's get started with the recapping.
Welcome to Wisteria Lane, where every neighbor is a potential killer, every friend a potential enemy, and every woman victim to TV’s most overused childbearing tropes. Join me as we take a tour of these tropes—we need not even leave Wisteria Lane.
This week, I'm going to focus on this week's episode of Parks and Recreation. The Rapture-inspired plot not only yielded a lot of wackiness (long live Zorp!) but also some interesting character introspection.
It is with tenderness, regret, and hope that I pen this proclamation of devotion and disappointment. Our unrequited affair began nine years ago, when I was a freshman at Northwestern University, the very incubator of your colleague Mr. Colbert, who was nevertheless no apple to my eye. "Who is that man of intelligence and charm?" I inquired of my roommate after my first viewing of The Daily Show. These affections only deepened with time. And yet recently, your show has troubled me.
PBS kicked off its four-part documentary series America in Primetime last night with "Independent Woman," a look at female characters from American TV's past and present. The episode featured some great interviews with writers, producers, and actors along with lots of archival footage from I Love Lucy to Grey's Anatomy. What it didn't feature, however, was a critical look at representations of women in television through the decades.
These highfaluting accolades for breastfeeding also stand in awkward contrast to portrayals of breastfeeding in TV and the movies. Bitch has previously covered our media’s (read: men in our media’s) sophomoric attitude toward breastfeeding, and in honor of Halloween, I offer you some more ghoulish portrayals.