Ideology In Desperate Housewives
Every day, the public is unknowingly exposed to countless ideological messages. They come from all around, but the media remains ideology’s primary agent. In places such as magazines, commercials, billboards, movies and television shows, one can find evidence of ideological messages. According to theologist Louis Althusser, ideology places individuals into a certain position in society by a process called interpellation, where a specific subject (or group of people) is called out, or hailed. Althusser claims that ideology does this in order to “help people to live their own conditions of existence, to perform their assigned tasks, but also to ‘bear’ their conditions.” An example of this can be found in television dramas aimed at American middle-aged women, as found on ABC or Lifetime. One potent example comes from the drama Desperate Housewives. This show may seem like a glorified soap opera, as it primarily depicts the lives of four dynamic homemakers living in the same cal-de-sac in suburbia. However, the show’s purpose is not solely to entertain, but also to hail its audience of middle-aged women by telling them what kind of behavior is acceptable for their role in society. In the episode “You Must Meet My Wife,” each housewife struggles with a personal conflict as their natural desires and tendencies conflict with the type of behavior expected of them as spouses and mothers. We see these discrepancies unfold as the characters are confronted by sexual temptation, marital infidelity, discontent with their husbands and gender roles regarding family finances. In the end, we will see ideological norms reinstated by these women resisting their true feelings in order to act “appropriately.”
On the surface, Bree Van de Kamp looks like the ideal housewife. Her house is always spotless and she cooks gourmet delicacies for her family’s dinner every night. However, as the series progresses, we learn that there is a lot more to Bree...
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