Intertextuality and Women

Focusing on Women in the Media

No More Glass Ceiling? Roseanne & Ellen April 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 7:57 pm

Throughout this class we have seen women on many different levels. Some have been at the very bottom, and others have worked there way up to about as far as they could go. However, as we progress further into the 80s and 90s, we begin to see women take on a whole new role, a role of power. Ellen and Roseanne, both aired during the 80s and 90s, were complete different shows. Ellen, set in an urban area, was about a woman who worked in a coffee shop and was constantly surrounded by her friends. Roseanne, set in a rural area, was about a mother in a blue collar household and her every day life. However, both these shows were created in response to both their stand up acts. Ellen and Roseanne are in control not only on the screen, but behind the scenes. Both Roseanne and Ellen challenge the norms of television, and provide a break to the common sitcom.

In the episode of Roseanne titled, The Clip Show, we are taken back in time throughout the history of the show. One recurring theme found in this episode is the idea of motherhood. Roseanne is constantly questioning herself as a mother and comparing herself to others. We also see the supposed affects of her mothering on her youngest child Jeff. The main issue is that Roseanne is not the stereotypical mom found in most sitcom shows, she is her own breed. She raises her children in somewhat questionable ways, but who’s to say what is the right way to raise a child? Roseanne is a new kind of mom, perhaps the more realistic portrayal of a mom. Either way, Roseanne gives mothers across the country a chance to take a break and realize that life isn’t perfect, and there isn’t a right or wrong guide book to raising children, you just have to wing it. In the scenes where Roseanne is visited by the sitcom moms of the past it is evident that times are changing, and women are changing. Women no longer have to be stay at home moms, they can be the sole bread winner or executive producer of a hit television show.

Just like Roseanne challenged the idea of the sitcom mom, Ellen challenged the idea of the presence of a gay woman as the star of a sitcom. In one of the most controversial episodes of Ellen, for many different reasons, Ellen DeGeneres decided that she would have her character on her show come out of the closet. This wasn’t the first time a gay character was portrayed on television, but it was among the first to have the star of the show be openly gay. This episode titled, The Puppy Episode was basically a two part PR stunt. However, it further proves that women are gaining a level of equality and respect within the media and society. Ellen and Roseanne were both powerful women who used their power as a way to gain respect in their industry. These two examples are evidence as to how far women have progressed and moved forward since the early days of television.


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