The ABC series, Desperate Housewives depicts the lives of five women struggling to maintain the stability of suburbia. Wisteria Lane, where each housewives lives may seem to be a prim and proper neighborhood yet is full of deep and dark secrets these women hide behind their conservative facade. Throughout the course of eight seasons, these women have proven that they are capable of anything ranging from being a nurturing mother, to murder. Though at first I did not notice, this show reinforces the stereotypes made through the media to an extreme degree.
If you haven't seen this show before, some of the main characters are Lynette, Gaby, Bree, and Renee. Lynette who is a mother of five children is a stay at home mother. Bree like Lynette is an accomplishes business owner who prides herself on her home and cleanliness. Both of these women represents the stereotype of the domestic wife and mother. Gaby, who is a former model prides herself on her personal appearance and her outward beauty. She represent the role of the sex object. Finally Renee, the newest character to the show is a New Yorker who has recently moved to the suburbs. She recklessly sleeps around with many men and is known to be a cougar. She represents the stereotype of a seductress. The show presents three stereotypes of women: the wife/mother, the seductress, and the sex object. Desperate Housewives reaffirms to its viewers the stereotypes that have been implanted in contemporary media and lacks to show the true agency women have over their lives.
Both Bree and Lynette are stay at home mothers, who face the challenge of balancing the task of maintaining their social status and the welfare of their children. They portray the roles of the wife/mother by sacraficing their individual dreams to support their families. Throughout the beginning seasons of the series, Lynette could be seen to challenge stereotypes through successfully attaining a high management position at her job by hard work. Yet, when her husband needs her to be more for their children she is faced with the desicion to give up all her hard work for her home. Instead of showing agency and defending her years of hard work, she surrenders her achievements for a broom and an apron and leaves behind her job.
Gaby and Renee reaffirm the stereotypes of the sex object and the seductress. Renee who constanly reciceves criticism for her promiscuious ways. As an older women she dresses provactive, and is not afraid to speak her mind. Unlike the other women in the community she is constantly bringing home different men from bar and various other places but never acheives to have a stable relationship with a man, until later in the show. Once Renee has tamed her ways, and the viewers might actually think that stereotype has been broken, it is once again promted when Bree takes on those qualities.
Desperate Housewives is not a feminist show. Its characters strengthen societies views on gender roles and stereotypes. By captivating its viewers through a male gaze, women are further encouraged to sustain their gender roles. Even before a person views this show, the name Desperate House wives objectifies women. Unlike, feminist films the women in this show do now show the freedom of agency in their lives.