Ally McBeal to Desperate Housewives : a brief History of the Postfeminist Heroine

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Bush, Elizabeth Kaufer. “Ally McBeal to Desperate Housewives: A Brief History of the Postfeminist Heroine.” Perspectives on Political Science, vol . 38 issue (2009): 87-98.

This article critically analyzes the main characters in Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City. It looks at how feminism is seen through their characters but also how this feminism causes these women to be unhappy. The article discuses the gender roles seen in the show and how they seem to be unjust. This will be useful for my paper because of the critical analysis of the characters of two shows I am looking at. It also gives interesting perspective because it describes how feminism is not always a positive outlook on some women.
Brasfiled, Rebecca, “Rereading Sex and the City: Exposing the Hegomonic Feminist Narrative.” Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 34 issue 3 (2006): 130-139.

This article looks at the television show Sex and the City specifically. It looks not only at their characters, and their personas seen through the show, but it also looks at how these women and the show addresses gender, sex, and race. The goal of the article is to show that by examining the show more we can see that the show is positive in its attempts at feminism. This article will definitely be useful when looking at this show, but also in looking at elements, which give it positive critiques in how it portrays feminism.

Cherry, Marc. Desperate Housewives. ABC, aired October 3, 2004. Televison.

This is the actual show Desperate Housewives. I will analyze these episodes and they will be some of the main content that I will use for my paper. I will focus on the first season mostly I think because that is when the stage is really set for the personas of the four main women. Their stereotypes are the most exaggerated in the first season it seems. The television show is a drama, but has a lot of other elements to it. The setting is in a suburban neighborhood, which also really makes the characters who they are.

Cohen, Emily Jane, “Kitschen Witches: Martha Stewart, Gothic Housewife, Corporate CEO.” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 38 issue 4 (2005): 650-677. Doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.2005.00134.

This article won’t be used for research on the characters of the shows I am looking deeper into, but it will be used for more knowledge on feminism and also an example of a real living housewife. Martha Stewart is a prime example of the ultimate housewife, so by learning about her career as well as controversies in this article it will help me understand how feminism plays a role and help me develop my paper further. It also discusses how society will give backlash to a woman when she starts to make progress.

Delap, Lucy, “Housework, Housewives, and Domestic Workers.” Home Cultures,vol. 8 issue 2 (2011) : 189-209.

This article examines the role of the housewife during the 20th century in England. I think it is important for me to get background on how feminism was seen in the past and how that has played a role in feminism in today’s society. This also doesn’t focus on how the media portrays gender either which will get a different look. The article shows how this time period was one of the first times without slaves, and how women had to pick up the role of doing the daily chores in the home.

Duncan, Lauren, “Women’s Relationship to Feminism: Effects of Generation and Feminist Self-Labeling Women’s Relationship to Feminism.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 34 issue 4 (2010) 498-507.

This is a study made about feminism in different eras. It compares views from the Baby Boomers versus Generation X. It looks at their attitudes, beliefs, and activism. This will help me because it shows how there is a difference through time about feminism and how the time influences the roles of women. The article also examines the different types of feminism and whether they are weak or strong in their role. The amount of statistics in the article is a lot though and I the data I won’t use in my paper, but the ideas I will.

Fernandez-Morales, Marta, “Illness, Genre, and Gender in Contemporary Television Fiction: Representations of Female Cancer in Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives.” Women’s Studies, vol. 38 issue 6 (2009): 670-691. Doi:10.1080/00497870903021752.

This article examines the role that cancer plays for women in both Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City. The idea of strong women is prevalent in both shows. Women fighting for their lives are to me a sense of feminism. This is something that I think I could use in my paper because it isn’t just showing how women cook and clean, but their roles can be important for other reasons as well.

Hill, Lisa “Gender and Genre: Situating Desperate Housewives.” Journal of Popular Film and Culture, vol. 38 issue 4 (2010): 162-169.


This article examines the television show Desperate Housewives and how the show incorporates stereotypes of the main characters and how they each play different roles in the show to portray the suburban housewife. It focuses a lot on the idea of suburbia and how location is key to how the show sets up the stereotypes for the women. This article will be very useful because it explores very similar themes that I am looking further into and provides more input on the characters.
Imre, Aniko, “Gender and Quality Television.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 9 issue 4 (2009) 111-124. doi: 10.1080/14680770903232987.

This article discusses feminism and post feminism seen through television. The specific shows looked at are House M.D. and Sex and the City. I will focus on the later in my paper, so reading about how the show is perceived in the USA and in Eastern Europe is key. Sex and the City has strong female leads but also showcases women who aren’t afraid to talk about sex, and be independent women. The focus on television in general is very helpful to my essay as well.

Levine, Elana, “Remaking Charlie’s Angels.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 8 issue 4 (2008): 375-389. doi: 10.1080/14680770802420295.

Charlie’ s Angels is a show I am thinking about examining because of the strong female leads, but also because the show was from a different time period. This article looks at the difference in feminism and post feminism, which can be seen through the original show and the remake into a movie 30 years later. This analysis will be very useful when looking at change of feminism but also because it is a show that has such definitive gender roles.
Morgan, Carol, “Gender Role Crisis on Wisteria Lane: Desperate Housewives as a Metaphor For the Modern Day Woman.” Florida Communication Journal, vol. 35 issue 2 (2007): 112-118.

This article will be very useful in my study. The articles goal is to examine each of the women in Desperate Housewives and then analyze how todays society has this image of what the ideal woman should be, and what real women are actually like. The author believes the show is a metaphor for the gender role issues we see in society today. The article is fairly short but scholarly so I do plan to incorporate this, especially when examining the specific characters in the show and their representations in the real world.

McRobbie, Angela, “Young Women and Consumer Culture.” Cultural Studies, vol. 22 issue 5 (2008): 531-550. doi: 10.1080/09502380802245803.

The media, including television shows have become such strong influences on young women. This article is about how today’s culture is consuming girls and influencing how they look at life and how they live it. This will be useful because the author looks at Sex and the City for showing certain example. I think this will be used as background for me and some of the major points it makes correlate with my own.

Merskin, Debra, “Three Faces of Eva: Perpetuation of the Hot-Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives.” Howard Journal of Communications, vol. 18 issue 2 (2007): 133-151. doi: 10.1080/10646170701309890.

This article is about Gabrielle Solis, the hot Latina neighbor on Desperate Housewives. It discusses how the character is stereotyping Hispanic women, when clearly that is not what all women are like. It is one of the first lead roles where a woman is Latina but it questions if it was a move in the right direction for Latinos. I think this article will help me with my critical analysis of Gabrielle’s character and help me explore how she represents a type of stereotype.

Richardson, Niall, “As Kamp As Bree.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 6 issue 2 (2006): p. 157-174. doi: 10.1080/14680770600645127.

This article is very useful to my essay because of the powerful tone it brings to the character Bree Van de Kamp in Desperate Housewives. She is the superwoman neighbor who cares for her family, and is the epitome of perfection when it comes to manners, cooking, and entertaining. Her character critically analyzed is very useful in showing how feminism can be portrayed in a good light when she is there for her family, but it can also be portrayed as a bad trait when seen by catering on males.

Robinson, Penelope, “Mobilizing Postfeminsim: Young Australian Women Discuss Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 25 issue 1 (2011): 111-124. doi:10.1080/10304312.2011.538469.

This article once again shows the two shows Sex and the City as well as Desperate Housewives are key concepts into understanding post feminism. This article focuses on how these shows are viewed in Australia. The idea of gender roles and stereotypes can parallel a lot of what young girls are being forced to deal with as they grow up and learn from the media. I want to incorporate some of this idea of media influence in my paper.

Tasker, Yvonne, “Postfeminism and the Archive for the Future.” Camera Obscurer, vol. 21 issue 62 (2006): 170-176. doi: 10.1215/02705346-2006-006.

This article looks at how there has been a steady decline of feminism in postmodern films as well as television. It gives examples of movies like Thirteen Going on Thirty and Wedding Crashers and television shows like Desperate Housewives to explain how these movies aren’t positively effecting women’s roles in today. This article analyzes media and critiques what is going on today. I can use this article to help get ideas on how I can look at and critique how present day television portrays women. Because it is fairly short I probably won’t cite much from this though.

Walsh, Kimberly, “Beauty and the Patriarchial Beast: Gender Role Portrayals in Sitcoms Featuring Mismatched Couples.” Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 36 issue 3 (2008): 123-132.

This article looks at some comedy shows, which I don’t plan to use for my paper, but the ideas are still relevant. It focuses on sexism and how male and female interactions are shown on television as well as how these gender roles are played out. Although I am not sure how this will tie in exactly I hope to use some of the ideas of the structures like characters, locations, and plot influencing gender in my paper.


Brundson, Charlotte, “Feminism, Postfeminism, Martha, Martha, and Nigella.” Cinema Journal, vol. 44 issue 2 (2005): 110-116.
Darren Star. Sex and the City. HBO, aired June 6, 1998. Television.
Dunlop, Scott. The Real Housewives of Orange County. Bravo. Aired March 21, 2006. Televsion.

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