Take My Wife… and My Financial Support

Despite being a show about two lesbians’ relationship, I felt that Take My Wife had a lot of heteronormative undercurrents, particularly in terms of marriage, support, and stability (a fact that is not actually that surprising). We see that Rhea and Cameron’s relationship is troubled by Rhea’s day job, which she clearly doesn’t enjoy but needs to continue working because $$$ (“Day job? You mean the thing that gets me money, medical insurance…”). Cameron, feeling ignored and alone, asks Rhea to quit her job and allow her to support Rhea financially: “You could quit your job and I could support us. I could totally afford this apartment.” Sounds familiar?

It’s the same heteronormative rhetoric that appoints one person as the breadwinner, typically the husband. In Take My Wife, that husband-breadwinner and housewife dynamic is queered on the basis of the genders and sexualities of Rhea and Cameron. While that may be a good thing in its own right, I am concerned with the episode’s perpetuation of static roles in marriage – “I could support us.” I want to believe that there were other ways that Rhea and Cameron could have patched up their relationship without turning to that economic/power dynamic and model of marriage and with both able to continue their comedy careers. On the other hand, I thought it was cool how the episode changed (~queered) the typical proposal narrative by Cameron spontaneously asking Rhea to marry her as they sat in the empty theatre after their show.

I think these ideas relate back to our discussions on Queer Liberalism and the act of buying into an inherently harmful institution in order to affirm rights and achieve equality for LGBTQ+ folks. In this case, Take My Wife as a show buys into the uneven power structures of the institution of marriage while simultaneously starring a non-stereotypical lesbian couple, as Leticia mentioned in her post. My thoughts here are kind of undeveloped, so I look forward to our discussion tomorrow to see if anyone else made similar connections.

Jenn

Take My Wife!!! (& Glee, I guess)

I don’t know what it was about Glee, but I was uncomfortable the entire time I was watching it, particularly because of the virginity narrative. The fact that Blaine wanted to rush into having sex because he was playing a character that went through a sexual awakening was really upsetting. I don’t watch the show, but it seemed like Rachel and Finn’s experience was aligned to a normative, non-deviant path, while Kurt and Blaine’s was not. Of course, the ~gays~ had to end up at a gay bar, with a figure causing a rift between them with the implication that Blaine might cheat. Of course one of them had to get drunk, and obviously it was impossible for them to not use fake IDs or do something illegal. Did Rachel and Finn go through any of this? No! They got a narrative of love and special moments, and what got in the way was Rachel’s “ambition” (which is kind of an iffy portrayal of women, but more on that some other time). Yes, there was the connection to sex and intimacy for both couples, but their path to that was clearly different, and I’m fairly certain sexuality had a lot to do with it.

Now for Take My Wife. I LOVED this episode, and it’s not just because they were cute lesbians and I’m biased. I appreciated that they didn’t fit exactly into the masc/femme binary, their relationship wasn’t cringe-worthy, and they seemed like two happy, fairly well-adjusted lesbians who were trying to figure life out. It wasn’t hypersexualized, the dick jokes were on point, and everything else was funny and light. Just the kind of queer television I’m looking for. I felt the discussion on women in comedy was important, and the components of social media on the show were a great reflection of our current culture. Since I liked this first episode so much (and will likely keep watching it, to be honest), I started thinking about what exactly makes a comedy show funny and successful.

In the last couple of years, the most popular comedies tend to portray “real life”, daily settings and situations with a comedic twist. These tropes are so popular, in my opinion, because people see themselves in these worlds, yet there is comic relief, there is “wackiness”, there is excitement, no matter how ridiculous. It is the normative world they know with a little laughter infused. So yes, I enjoyed watching Take My Wife, but clearly, these women are set on a path to domesticity, and this comedy follows lives that are not entirely normative, but not degenerate either. And while it is great that queer people are achieving some form of representation in these comedy tropes, the question of what is “positive representation” that we brought up in class applies once again. What would constitute positive representation of a non-heterosexual relationship? Can these representations be truly positive if they are still enforcing the heteronormative ideal of a family, and the “end-goal” of marriage and reproduction that we talked about when discussing Obergefell v. Hodges?

I want my happy gays. I want my gays that don’t die. But how can that be achieved without subscribing to the same values that oppress us?

Looking forward to the discussion!!!

Leticia