The Rhythms of Reaction: Movement of Daytime to Nighttime Women's Television
While reading Modleski's piece, "The Rhythms of Reception: Daytime Television and Women's Work" I began to think about not only historical representations of women and the placement of hegemonic ideology , such as in the Gracie Allen and George Burn Show and in the Goldbergs but also about the contemporary reactionary pieces of media that present other images of women, and women's choice, alongside "women's work" in the 21st century. While contemporary daytime television arguably still falls into the same rhythms that Modelski points out within her piece, I could see where there were moments of reaction to those ideas in particular late night comedy shows, specifically Comedy Central's Broad City. Namely, I saw a reaction towards the idea that she outlines on page 69, that these "women's shows" have historically catered to female pleasure while keeping it within the confines of serving the patriarchy, and "keeps [the show] working for the good of the family." What came to mind is yes, shows about women, marketed to a wider public are appearing on the contemporary scene, in lieu of The Goldbergs Molly constantly taking care of the family, listening to her husband (while quietly in her own way subverting his patriarchal powers - though can we truly say that she is successful?), these shows do not necessarily cater to the patriarchal power that their earlier and daytime iterations did and often still do. However, in the late night, once the womanly duties have been pushed aside, women's pleasure without forgetting it is in to the patriarchal oversight is thrown off and discarded in favor of just women's pleasure.
Specifically looking to Comedy Central's comedy show Broad City the idea that women are there to serve men and their pleasure is thrown out the window. Specifically in reaction to the idea that women are their to serve their families. In an episode entitled "St. Marks" Ilana and Abbi chase a man who has stolen Ilana's gift up into a beautiful brownstone. Instead of the woman protecting her son and her family, and keeping the private, well, private, the woman allows all of her family issues to come onto the table. She goes so far as to say "Sometimes you just get a dud." Though she does promote that she is "a good mother," she does not take responsibility for her son's actions. As Modleski points out, motherhood is responsibility, it is reading people (men) without having to be told. Her son spits out at her that maybe he should be seeing a therapist, maybe even her, and to that she rejects him in a rejection of the idea that a woman is beholden to solely taking care of her family, forever.
Moreover, the show does work on a reclamation of the male gaze and portraying the female form as purely for men's pleasure. In one of their very first episodes in season 1, Ilana skypes Abbi, wearing a tshirt. Abbi has been staring at a rabbit vibrator that has a post-it note reminder her to masturbate at Tuesday at 7am. In this scene, what is important to note is that the only person completely naked, and more than that also underneath Ilana, is her sex-buddy Lincoln. Even more so, after ending the call with Abbi, Lincoln meekly asks what is a question normally regulated to the female character, "What are we? Dating?" and Ilana puts him back in his place by informing him that he was merely for pleasure. Seeing representations of women's pleasure may be seen all across the televisual landscape, but it seems that where it is truly being removed from the added "for the service of the family and patriarchy" is in the night cycle of shows. While we still have a long way to go to recognizing these implicit power structures and hegemonic ideas portrayed within television shows, it is interesting to note where subversions and reclamations are beginning to appear.