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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Naomi Wolf takes on 'Desperate Housewives' 

As with all of Wolf's work, there are some good bits:
Desperate Housewives lets us indulge in this fantasy of escape back into coddled dependency; it lets us tour the interiors that we would never have time to keep so immaculate, lets us imagine that the toned bodies of a Gabrielle or an Edie could be ours, were it not for our pesky jobs. But the sting is built into the program, so that by the end of the hour we are happy to be home in our own chaotic lives. Because the handsome man who pays all the bills can also impose his mother on your home – he can treat you, as Gabrielle's husband does, more as a pet than a partner.

And there are silly bits to the point of self-parody (for those few of my readers who also read Wolf):
The opening montage of every show has the two most shocking seconds I have seen on mainstream TV: a cartoon woman weeps and then punches a cartoon man on the jaw. Victimised women's hostility towards men has never been shown so directly before.

What? There has scarcely been a cop or lawyer show in the last decade that didn't regularly feature episodes where an aggrieved woman whacked or hacked away at a husband who beat her or otherwise offended her sensibilities. And in any case, how can the abstract cartoon at the beginning of 'Desperate Housewives' be the "two most shocking seconds" Wolf has seen on mainstream TV? Unless, of course, she hasn't seen any mainstream TV since 1978.

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