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