Brainy, outspoken, and with a fashion sense all her own, Blossom modeled confidence (and oh, so many hats) for a generation of teenage girls.
Along with unquashable self-esteem, she also possessed that mixed blessing, the "cool" dad. With his tight jeans, collar-grazing hair, hippie past, and career as a professional pianist, Nick Russo wasn't your typical TV father. He thought of himself as laid back, and his kids could confide in him.
When Blossom and her bestie, Six, made a video for a school-related media contest about the importance of wearing condoms, and the principal refused to submit it on the grounds of decency, her dad and Six's mom went into school with the girls to complain. Sure, the show could be preachy and heavy-handed at times, and became known (and parodied) for its very special episodes, but it was also extremely open about issues affecting teens in a way it's hard to imagine happening today.
I used to love My Two Dads. To recap, or in case you (shocked face) never saw it: the show was about two single, straight Manhattan bachelors who were given joint custody of 12-year old Nicole after her mom/their joint ex-girlfriend died. Living with just one mom, I was fascinated by a show that centered around a girl's relationship with her two fathers. Except I re-watched some of it recently, and it's not about that at all.
I don't have exact stats, but it seems like the vast majority of shows and movies about single and stay-at-home dads feature a father-daughter dynamic. This could lead to some interesting explorations of what it means to parent a child with a different gender to your own in our patriarchal society. But most often, it's a way to reinforce society's discomfort with young women's sexuality.
Ah, marriage. It's a preoccupation with Republicans: the destruction of it, sex outside of it, the redefinition of it. Promoting marriage was a significant part of the Bush administration's domestic-policy agenda, presumably in an attempt to protect women from the horrors of birth control, single motherhood, abortion, and illicit sexual activity. Whether it's correlating single motherhood with gun violence or railing against the destruction of the sacred institution by the gays, the right wing has a deep-seated jones for getting (straight) couples to the church on time.
This weekend will see the takeoff of Robert Zemeckis's new movie, Flight, which stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman. Washington plays a pretty conflicted character: Whip, a star pilot who also happens to be an alcoholic with a cocaine problem. He parties hard with one of his flight attendants before going up in the air one morning, and of course, shit gets unfortunately real with a crash landing. He's a hero for a minute, but that all changes wtih the investigation into the emergency landing.
It's a great performance from Washington, but, as with nearly all Hollywood products, it toes the line on negative racial stereotypes: in this case, the black substance abuser and absent father. In the name of Sydney Poitier, these challenging roles have got to be out there for people of color. But how do we determine if a movie is actually doing justice to its representation of members of a marginalized group? I'm going to share a few rules I've developed to help explain whether or not a character is more than just a stereotype.
This week on Call the Midwife, there were only two births, and one of them was a piglet. The plot has veered away from focusing exclusively on pregnancy and birth, offering viewers the opportunity to think more broadly about reproductive health.
Last night's episode of Call the Midwife veered away from the familiar topics of abortion and birth control and provided a reminder of something that often gets lost in policy discussions about reproductive health: In so many ways, these issues have to do with love. Reproductive health is about sexual relationships, the emotional turmoil of motherhood, and the promise of the future. It's about the relationship women have to themselves, their spouses, and their families of origin. It has to do with economics, education, gender norms, and heteronormativity.
We know how the current Republicans party feels about abortion and free contraception. But what about the myriad of other reproductive health issues? Here are three questions for Republicans about women's health that don't have to do with preventing or terminating pregnancy.
The hour-long PBS drama follows a group of young midwives in London's East End in the 1950s, led by a convent of Anglican nursing nuns, the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus. The show's premise offers an opportunity to examine reproductive health on television without having to contend with contemporary political quandaries, and provides an excellent teachable moment for the anti-choice among us. Plus, it's just good TV.
So I was watching Glee the other night, waiting desperately to see if Brittany and Santana would show some sign that they were still together. As I tried to peer into the minds of Glee's creators and discover their subversive intent in having the lesbian character Santana dance to a song with romantic lyrics about boy/girl love with the gay-in-real-life Ricky Martin, it hit me: TV is not activism. I mean, critiquing TV can be activism, but TV programming itself exists, by and large, in the service of profit, not activism. In recognition of TV's persuasive powers over "impressionable youth," there is a long history of the "after school special" and the "very special episode" of family sitcoms. But the structural inequalities and relations of rule responsible for the most urgent cultural problems of our time run way deeper than the politics of media representation.