Notes about answering a sitcom question on Roseanne and My Family

Tackle the question first! This one was about narratives, this means the story lines the different characters are given. How do those storylines reflect certain expectations of their gender?


Specify the names of the two episodes and their sitcoms at the top of your answer!


As to the narratives –in the My Family episode it is a traditional tale of a man and his car and his first love!


In both there is also the storyline of the anniversary and the different ways the couples want to spend them!


Men are stereotypically represented as their first love being their car and often as loving that car more than their wives of girlfriends. After all they spend long hours cleaning polishing and fixing her and even give her a girl’s name! They even refer to her parts in words normally associated with women – ‘big headlights!’


In ‘The Car’ episode in ‘My Family’ there is the traditional gender conflict about the upcoming anniversary and their different hopes and expectation – Susan’s is the ‘romantic weekend in Dorset, walking on the beach’ whereas Ben’s is to avoid just that! merely to stay at home.


In the Roseanne episode entitled ‘the anniversary’ Roseanne and husband Dan’s hopes and expectations are even further apart – Roseanne wants the honeymoon she never go in Florida, while Dan wants a cabin in the woods where he can go “huntin’ shootin’ and fishin'”.


A very traditional battle ground for the sexes and the eternal material of the sit com episode! Women are always represented as wanting the fantasy, the ideal and the unattainable whereas men are represented as having their feet on the ground and being basically happy with what they’ve got.


Thus both Roseanne and Susan are looking for romance and Ben and Dan just want life to continue as it is!


Dan is eventually portrayed as the more romantic of the husbands… while Roseanne in line with American ideals of the traditional supportive wife ends up happy to have her romantic anniversary at home!


Susan meanwhile, in line with the more brutal and feminist stance of UK sitcoms, constantly undermines her husband in words and actions.


In keeping with Todorov’s narrative theory the disruption is eventually resolved and equilibrium restored – in ‘My Family’ in a return to the first scene in which Susan had written in lipstick on Ben’s forehead the word ‘DORSET?’, this time he has written on hers the word ‘SEX’ but in a traditional win for the female side when he looks in the mirror, she has replied ‘NO!’ on his! And everything returns to normal – Susan wins on points though Ben has won the battle because they have not gone to Dorset!


In Roseanne their problem has been resolved by the children being removed and the couple sitting down to a nice anniversary meal ‘a deux’ but which descends into farce when they have a fight with the fizzy wine and water from the kitchen tap! Thus confirming their representations as overgrown kids! And again in typical American style the battle is a draw!


Remember you must explain which aspects of femininity and masculinity are being represented:

What characteristics do we expect of males?

  • Unreliable
  • Forget birthdays
  • Unromantic
  • Practical
  • Beer drinking
  • Women ogling
  • Chauvinistic
  • Hate housework
  • Hate cooking
  • Distant fathers
  • Breadwinner
  • A bit slow – can’t multi task!
  • Realists
  • In control of the money
  • Make all the important decisions
  • Aggressive
  • Possessive
  • Arrogant
  • Superior
  • Etc


What characteristics do we expect of females?…


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