Posts Tagged ‘Blue-Collar’

During class on the week of April 11th, we viewed episodes from two fairly recent sitcoms: Roseanne and Ellen.  These shows are essentially nothing alike, other than the overall makeup of the scenery within the programs.  Both programs take on, and in some cases mock, traditional beliefs of females in an attempt to alter what is considered to be the norm.

The episode of Roseanne that we viewed in class was “The Clip Show: All About Rosey.”  Roseanne, the main character of the show, is played by Roseanne Barr.  Barr uses her comedic background as the foundation of the show and according to Hilmes’ book, “Roseanne sparked a genre of comedies based around stand-up comedians.”  Douglas is quoted in her book saying that “[Roseanne] spoke to women who had seen through June Cleaver and Donna Reed years ago, and were struggling to see through the supermom image now.”  This is both a figurative and literal reference in this episode of the program, because towards the end the typical pearl-wearing “supermoms,” as Douglas would put it appear at Roseanne’s kitchen table to discuss the differences between her show and the shows from the past.  This show effectively escapes the image previously established in television and is representative not of what the typical “perfect” household in America should be, but of what the majority of households in America actually are:  blue collar.  Throughout the running of Roseanne’s show, Rosey holds a various amount of jobs ranging from working in a factory to working as a waitress at a local diner.  The show’s success is not a result of having a set of loyal viewers tuning in to the program to see the ideal household; it is a result of having a program that a vast majority of families can relate to.  What happens in these episodes is not a manual of “what-to-do” when raising a family, but more of poking fun at situations that almost everyone encounters at one point in their lives.  This show not only combats the previous image established by shows like The Donna Reed Show and Leave it to Beaver, but it mocks everything that these shows represent.  Roseanne is an equal partner in her marriage to Dan and while the two aren’t perfect, they work together in their joint struggle to raise their family.

“The Puppy Episode: Parts I & II” of the show Ellen proved to be extremely controversial, due to Ellen DeGeneres’ “coming out of the closet” on national television.  While the framework of the show appears to be very similar to that of Roseanne, consisting of main scenes set in either Ellen’s home or workplace, the message and struggles the program portrays send a message from a different perspective to viewers.  Ellen is single and living by herself.  These two episodes, in particular, present the viewers with an internal struggle that had never been seen before.  Hilmes says in her book that “Ellen DeGeneres made history by coming out as gay, both in real life and in character, before millions, in a funny and controversial lesbian storyline that the show explored in its last two seasons.”  Hilmes is not suggesting that the fact that Ellen came out was something to laugh at, but the way she did it was certainly entertaining to viewers.  Ellen was at an airport and accidentally stated that she was gay into a microphone for everyone within an earshot to hear.  Ellen uses comedy in her program to address a very important issue in society:  the acceptance of everyone for who they are without prejudice.  Ellen effectively changed the way women are viewed and used television to show that not all women fall into the “cookie-cutter” image of what a woman should be that programs of the past presented.  This show not only rejects the single-minded image of what a woman should be, but also paved the way for other programs that have gay lead characters.

Both of these programs address important issues within themselves and their lifestyles in an attempt to change the mold of what a woman should be.  These women stand on the shoulders of pioneers before them in an attempt to forever change the cookie cutter mold that is a woman’s image and to cause people to believe, and accept, that there are different types of people out there and there is not one specific way that every woman should live her life.

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