Intertextuality and Women

Focusing on Women in the Media

The Ideal Wife vs. That Damn Donna Reed February 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 8:24 pm

After watching an episode of The Donna Reed Show and an episode of The Gilmore Girls, the dramatic shift in the portrayals of women from the 1950s to current day are easily recognized. The Donna Reed Show episode we watched was properly titled, The Ideal Wife, throughout which we see how troubled Donna Stone is because her family and friends keep referring to her as sweet, perfect, and ideal. We see Donna dressed to the nines to greet her children and husband at the door as they leave for the day, and have dinner all ready for her guests at her dinner party. In contrast we see the Gilmore girls eating pizza in front of the television as they mock Donna Reed for her sugary demeanor.

The Ideal Wife (The Donna Reed Show) originally aired on March 11, 1959, just a few decades after women were granted the right to vote. Even after women fought for equal rights they were still shown to be lesser than men on the television screen. Women were around to keep the house clean, and have dinner on the table by the time the husband got home from work.


The "Ideal" family

That Damn Donna Reed(The Gilmore Girls) was first aired on February 2, 2001, when it was becoming somewhat normal for women to be the breadwinners and maybe single working mothers. It wasn’t surprising to see Lorelai and Rory survive just fine without a father figure and lamb dinners.


The "Realistic" family

The best part of That Damn Donna Reed was when Rory dressed up in Donna Reed garb to cook her boyfriend a steak, mashed potato, and green bean dinner (with lime jello for dessert.) She declared it “Donna Reed Night”. Her boyfriend, Dean, kept arguing that the whole mom cooking dinner for her family was nice and didn’t see anything wrong with it. Rory decided to let him taste it for himself. Dean, after partaking in the dinner, agreed that he didn’t really enjoy Rory being Donna Reed and was quite happy with how she was. Rory added that although she liked playing dress up she learned a lot about Donna Reed in the process and told us although she did play the role she also had a large part behind the scenes and was the uncredited director and producer of the show.

I enjoyed how both the families were is such stark contrast. The Donna Reed Show made people like me believe that families were actually like this back in the 50s. Sometimes after watching shows like these I would wish that families still behaved like this. Our book does a good job in dispelling this argument. The Gilmore Girls shows a more realistic modern family, although many may not like the idea of a single mom raising her child, it is a more up front and honest depiction.



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