Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ideology in Desperate Housewives

Ideology In Desperate Housewives Every day, the public is unknowingly exposed to countless ideological messages. They come from all around, but the media remains ideology’s primary agent. In places such as magazines, commercials, billboards, movies and television shows, one can find evidence of ideological messages. According to theologist Louis Althusser, ideology places individuals into a certain position in society by a process called interpellation, where a specific subject (or group of people) is called out, or hailed.Althusser claims that ideology does this in order to â€Å"help people to live their own conditions of existence, to perform their assigned tasks, but also to ‘bear’ their conditions. † An example of this can be found in television dramas aimed at American middle-aged women, as found on ABC or Lifetime. One potent example comes from the drama Desperate Housewives. This show may seem like a glorified soap opera, as it primarily depicts the lives of four dynamic homemakers living in the same cal-de-sac in suburbia.However, the show’s purpose is not solely to entertain, but also to hail its audience of middle-aged women by telling them what kind of behavior is acceptable for their role in society. In the episode â€Å"You Must Meet My Wife,† each housewife struggles with a personal conflict as their natural desires and tendencies conflict with the type of behavior expected of them as spouses and mothers. We see these discrepancies unfold as the characters are confronted by sexual temptation, marital infidelity, discontent with their husbands and gender roles regarding family finances.In the end, we will see ideological norms reinstated by these women resisting their true feelings in order to act â€Å"appropriately. † On the surface, Bree Van de Kamp looks like the ideal housewife. Her house is always spotless and she cooks gourmet delicacies for her family’s dinner every night. However, as the series progresses, we learn that there is a lot more to Bree (as there is to any person). In this episode, Bree is seduced by her much younger and very attractive contractor. Bree is single, so this is not a matter of infidelity, but of general sexual urges.The narrator explains that Bree was brought up traditionally, learning to hide and suppress her desires in order to be a â€Å"lady. † Therefore, Bree denies her urges because she recognizes that as a woman, society does not approve of her being sexually outgoing. This point is hit home when she fires her contractor so that she is not tempted by his company. She lies and tells him she is letting him go because he is doing a sloppy job, unable to admit to him (or anyone) that she is having fantasies about him.Bree’s display of â€Å"weakness† makes the plot relatable and entertaining to the audience, since it is made up primarily of middle-aged women who feel the same pressure to be almost inhuman sexually . Ironically, that pressure is being reinforced by the ideological lesson that this episode teaches. Gabrielle Solis profiles a different kind of housewife. Her conflict arises when a nurse informs her that her daughter’s blood type indicates that she could not possibly be the child of Gabby and her husband, Carlos.Gauging Gabby’s reaction, the nurse assumes that the child must not belong to Carlos, and judgmentally implies that Gabby was unfaithful. The nurses actions are direct proof of the ideological message: if a housewife cheats on her husband, she loses worth. Panicking, Gabby concludes that she must have cheated on Carlos during a weekend away with her girlfriends when she was blackout drunk. Several ideological violations arise here. First, her role as a housewife does not permit weekends away with her friends where she gets wildly intoxicated. Second, cheating on your husband is of the utmost offense.Although women now have equal rights to match their equal c apabilities, our society is still predominantly patriarchal. Gabby pays for her indiscretions in this episode. Scared and deeply ashamed, she must deal with her overwhelming guilt. Her struggle reinforces ideological norms, teaching her (and consequently, the audience) that she should have been home with her family rather than out for a fun weekend with her friends. It turns out to have been all a mistake, and Gabby was not unfaithful, however her ideological lesson was learned the hard way.Yet another ideological message is presented through the life of Lynette Scavo. Strong, smart and opinionated, Lynette is the feminist who equates to (if not exceeds) her husband in most areas. However, she is not immune to the ideological restraints of being a housewife either. In this episode, her husband Tom is diagnosed with Post Part-um Depression due to the recent birth of their daughter. There is a comical quality to this, as Post Part-um Depression is mostly known as a disease for women. This works to make Tom look weak, while Lynette is exhausted taking care of the house and the kids.She laughs at Tom’s diagnosis, and he becomes offended, stating that she is always too critical. Lynette’s friend Renee becomes involved, telling Lynette that she needs to â€Å"demonstrate her abilities as a wife† and make it up to Tom. Renee’s character provides insight to the ideological belief that wives should be supportive and nurturing towards their husbands, even if it means sacrificing their own comfort or opinions. In the end, Lynette apologizes and listens to Tom complain for hours, just as a proper housewife is expected to do.The domestic role of women is reinstated again through Susan Delfino’s storyline. Unlike Bree and Gabby, Susan lives more of a working class lifestyle, and recently work has been slow for her husband Mike. Tight on money, Susan decides to pick up another job to supplement her income as a teacher. She does this by agre eing to do housekeeping in lingerie for a live-feed stream on the internet. Although this side-job is harmless and proving to be quite profitable, ideology tells her (and consequently, the audience) that this job is something she should be ashamed of.She lies to Mike and tells him she’s been selling homemade jewelry (more of a â€Å"lady-like† hobby) for extra money. It might make sense if Susan felt ashamed because the job might be degrading the sanctity of her body, but that is not the reason. She lies to Mike because if he knew she was using her body to make extra money for them, he might be embarrassed, upset, or even angry. As the ideology of a housewife maintains, a husband should be the main source of finances and his wife should keep him comfortable and happy. Susan breaks these rules, and it burdens her with guilt throughout the episode.She should not be ashamed to be making money in a time where finances are low, but since society does not deem it appropriate , Susan sacrifices her good conscience to be a good housewife. In conclusion, Desperate Housewives reinforces ideological norms of middle-aged women through every main character in the show. The audience might think they are only being entertained for an hour, but what they take away from it is so much deeper. They are impressed with the ideology that women of a certain aged should act, talk, and feel this way. The audience learns lessons through the characters.This particular episode taught us that fulfilling your role as a housewife is of the utmost importance, even if it means sacrificing your natural desires, freedoms, opinions, or capabilities. Desperate Housewives is not the first television show to promote this ideology. Throughout history, the ideal housewife has been depicted as static, obedient, asexual, and sometimes seemingly inhuman. However, a show centered on such a character would be dull. So Desperate Housewives takes some liberties, letting the characters run rampa nt and make mistakes, only to recoil back into their rightful places inside of their homes on Wisteria Lane.

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