Isn’t it Ironic?

I’m going to follow a new show and provide commentary about the episodes. I’m going to deconstruct the issues of race, class, and gender as I see them. The new show I’ve picked is Trophy Wife, which has the tagline, “The third time’s the charm.” This post will is a bit long since I need to introduce the characters so bear with me.

Third time's the charm

Third time’s the charm

The premise of the show is Kate (Malin Akerman), a “reformed party girl,” meets Pete (Bradley Whitford), a –you guessed it – highly successful lawyer, while dancing at a bar where she literally falls into his lap.Kate

Trophy wife petePete has two ex-wives, both of whom are portrayed as less likable than Kate, who is, I suppose,  “the charm.” Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) is Pete’s first wife, with whom he had two children, Warren and Hillary, twin 15-year-olds. Diane is a surgeon as well as an Olympic medal-winning athlete, and her success must preclude her from being likable, as with all successful women portrayed on tv. She is a cold character who does not appear to like Kate all that much; I suppose we’re to interpret this as jealousy, since Kate has the real prize.

Pete’s second wife is much less scary and threatening, as she is portrayed as a flake and a hippie. Jackie (Michaela Watkins) and Pete have one son together, Bert, who they adopted. Jackie does not seem to have a profession, and her day is overloaded when she discovers a new food co-op, something that is more important that taking care of her child. Her character is there to make Kate seem more earnest and adult-like, though I think it’s a toss-up. Jackie is yet another character that is used to dismiss care about one’s health and spirituality outside of mainstream religion. She is a joke to be laughed at, not a real person.trohpy wife jackietrohpy wife diane 2013-09-30 at 10.55.57 AM

Suggesting that Kate is somehow reformed, one might expect that she had personal issues to deal with, but the show’s use of the word “reformed” is a stand in for “married,” or let’s say “kept.”

Trophy Wife shows us that being single and dancing at a bar is cause for concern, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Using the word reform might mean that she has a problem with alcohol abuse. If this is the case, the show does not seem to concern as Kate downs an entire water bottle of vodka to protect her stepdaughter, Hillary, from getting in trouble with her mother. Kate then must get a ride home with Diane, where we see Kate, drunk, in the back seat of her husband’s ex-wife’s car, looking as much like a teenager as the actual teenagers in the car. This scene reinforces the cold, adult role that Diane plays, in extreme contrast to Kate’s fun and likable one. When Kate’s drunkenness is discovered, Hillary’s mother, Diane, understands Kate’s actions and the family considers what she did to have been a noble effort. The only way Kate can be a mother figure is to drink?

None of the show’s characters are very well developed, and it’s just another show where the only thing the man brings to the table is money and stability, and the woman only brings looks.

The show’s producers are calling the title ironic, but I guess I’m still waiting for the punch line.


Quiz time! Are you Stepping on Enough Toes at Work?

are you too demanding

I found a quiz a few weeks back from a website that claims to promote women and fight for equality in the workplace.  The quiz, “Are you Too Demanding,” only serves to further promote the idea that women can only be successful if they act like men, at a detriment to their likability and womanhood.

Every question was problematic in at least one way; the title itself suggests that women who have achieved recognition in their field and have advanced their careers are probably stepping on other people’s toes. They are getting in the way of other’s success.  When the author of this quiz says, “A powerful woman knows what she wants, but standards have their limits,” they are saying that women should not try too hard to achieve. And of course, since this quiz is directed at women, implies that men do not have this problem; men’s achievements do not negatively affect them or those around them.

The seven-question quiz begins by asking women how they handle an opportunity to put down another woman. The assumption made in this quiz is that all of your coworkers are also women. This is another problematic assumption because it pushes women into careers that are traditionally feminine, not that their coworkers would be men. The first question asks how you handle when your coworker makes a mistake during a presentation. Your options are to sigh and correct the mistake, politely interject, or ignore it because she was just nervous.

correct her

Choice A is clearly the worst choice because you would be too out-for-yourself and undermining other women. I am personally bothered by the ever-present trope that women are “naturally” going to fight with other women, as if this is not a construction reinforced by media and men who want to put women down. I have heard way too many women tell people that they don’t like women because they are catty or putting each other down. I’m bothered by how pervasive this is because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyway, choice B gives you a chance to not be aggressive when you politely correct your coworker, which I assume to mean using uptalk as to not sound too knowledgeable. Choice C is probably the best way to preserve your femininity, but it doesn’t give you a chance to succeed.

I’m going to skip ahead to question six now and let you read through the others on your own. This question is too good not to address.

Screen Shot mama bear

This question gives you a pretty simple choice between being and overbearing bitch, a good, nurturing woman,  or someone who isn’t qualified to be in a position of leadership. presents itself as a website that serves women’s needs and helps them to learn how to succeed in the working world, which has never been kind to women. Instead, the quiz only perpetuates stereotypes about successful women and how they push other women down to get ahead.