Lipsitz’ reading, “Meaning of Memory” resonated the most this week as we think about how television legitimizes certain images of American families. Ideas of a nuclear family and materialism circulated early television, and these images of families, although uniform, did come in different shapes. For example, a show like The Goldbergs, used an ethnic family, but still nuclear although perhaps not as idealized as later television families. Through these ethnic families, or families who did struggle in the current economic climate, it seemed as if through buying things, their family is at least doing something right. Lipsitz explains that in these shows that reinforced commodity purchases and the wellbeing of a family, it was not as though, “money can buy love”, but whether it can garnish affection is a different story (80). There was of course a special emphasis on motherhood and wives when it came to this materialism, sending forth a message that in order to have a good family you need these certain products, like carnation milk, which for some reason is prescribed by doctors. Similarly I think back to an episode of the Flintstones called, The Happy Household, when Wilma becomes a television star promoting her wifely duties to the world, and giving advice as to how to properly make her husband happy with a certain cooked product. It is funny to think how the post war nuclear family isolated themselves so much from extended kinship according to the writer, that they often “needed” this advice from television, often asking for tips from television wives who seemed like they had the right ideas (Lipsitz 84). Even beyond their duties of buying the right product, these wives according to Modleski were trained to know what their family needed simply by looking and reading facial expressions, thus where the soap opera close up comes into play. My overall take away from it all is how less stressful it may have been for advertisers at that time. Not only because of the sponsor relationship they had with television, the idea that some audiences actually looked forward to some advice makes it more simple I suppose, as opposed to viewers hating Hulu commercials which at least try to personalize theirs for its viewers. Also the self reflexivity of it all, if shows like the The Flintstones were satirizing the pervasiveness of advertisements while also pushing forth the same idea of, "a happy household".
Lastly, the comparison of Gracie and Lucy was interesting, as they seemed to be oppositional in terms of verbal/physical comedy, a husband who controls the audience through speech/a husband whose Cubano heritage prevents him to have full control, and Gracie who wins at the end and Lucy whose schemes always fail. However in the end, both these shows perpetuate a certain kind of domesticity of women that make being a housewife seem almost pleasurable if not a bearable experience. While a lot of shows today may have shifted away from a nuclear family, and those that still maintain that model explore a women’s role outside of the home, there are still perhaps some remnants of these hidden themes still located in the shows, such as the housewife having to know what the rest of their family is thinking or father having to buy certain items to ensure his family’s affection in some way.
Lol and for fun - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAni5JW_WWQ