Television was one of the biggest innovations of the 2oth century. The onset of television has played an integral role in influencing societal perception. During the period of 1950 to 1980, television portrayed women in different ways. In the 1950s, It presented the traditional concept attached with a woman. In 1960, it depicted more bold women. In the 1970s, the depiction further changed as more and more women became part of the public sphere. In all these periods, one thing was common how television depicted women that portrayed women with the changing social relations in the American social landscape.
The television programs of 1950 depicted a traditional concept of the American family and woman. The dramas depicted that woman as a housewife, looking after the children and father assuming the role of the bread-winner. The majority of the time, there was segregation of roles delineating the different roles of wife and husband. In this era, television programs mostly tried to tap the typical housewives. They further the notion that was mostly prevailing at that time. It conformed to the social reality of that time. It did not happen that television dramas and shows came to champion women's rights and present women that were bold and liberal in their orientation.
However, in the period of the 60s, TV commenced to making shows that reacted to the changing dimensions in society. For instance, as the batch of Baby Boomer ladies admitted to the school in the 1960s, the novel shows likely mirrored a developing social environment for ladies. The new age of TV ladies in this period launched a new show,” That Girl”. Showing Marlo Thomas. She was the daughter of the great actress Thomas Danny. She read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedman which heavily influenced her disposition and her views on women. Thomas recommended the use of the book to develop a plot for her navel show. Thomas’s show featured the experiences of an actress who is young and new, recently came to the city of new york. The young actress takes different jobs before waiting to make a big breakthrough. The character presented in the shows depicted independence and autonomy which conflated with the feminist movements of that time. The show appeared in the second half of the 1960s. As five seasons were played, producers and directors asked that Thomas's character wed her boyfriend. Thomas declined to accept this and said that marriage would completely change the course and objective of the show. She said that marriage would stipulate that this was the objective of the show since its start. It ended in 1971 and Thomas has won several awards such as the golden globe.
The anatomization of the above example shows that how the social realities were evolving owing to the increased attraction of the feminist movements. The decision of women not to marry was clear signaling the new wave of opinion that was generated in the society. To do away with marriage certainly influenced the opinion in society that deemed marriage as indispensable for women's life. Such characters encouraged women to come out and pursue their desires.
The show was good in the sense that it influenced the shows and women that followed this program in the era of the 70s and 80s. in the 1970s, the ratio of working women surged, so TV promoters during the 1970s found the buying force of an alluring, new segment. Accordingly, A.C. Nielsen added the class of "working ladies" to its socioeconomics in 1976. Publicists which of late reserved advertising endeavors for ladies showing family cleaning items and comfort food sources, requested that the organizations create shows to arrive at this new class of customers.
Makers reacted with programs that reflected the intended interest group and their apparent qualities. Shows included more youthful, open, autonomous, and women from metropolitan areas. The working and employed women have presented as a normal instance rather than an oddity. The character of Eve Arden as a school teacher depicted that she wanted a husband so that she could leave her job. In any case, the show “ Mary Tyler Moore” by “Mary Richards'' emphasized that woman was keener to pursue her career as an independent and autonomous girl rather than looking for a husband to support her financially. As a rule, ladies' jobs during the 1970s addressed a more extensive scope of the female involvement in ladies showing up as cops, legal counselors, specialists, writers, and women engaged in many other professions.
Again the example of Mary Richards showed how women producers can influence the depiction of women in a more progressive and enlightened manner. The show was a complete break from the past and conflated with the new reality of the time. due to the feminist movement and more women in employment, the old perceptions with regard to the role of women were changing. As the presence of women in the workplaces increased, this new dimension came to dominate the tv screens. Women having independent nature and pursuing their careers were portrayed.
As more and more women assume the role of the directors and producers in the television industry, the characters of women having liberal, bold, and autonomous orientations became more extensive in the shows and dramas. In the initial years of the television industry, women faced hurdles to assume the role of producers and directors. The equal employment opportunity commission has taken a decision that paved the way for women to assume these positions. Similarly, the changing societal landscape in America also created conducive circumstances for women to emerge as producers. As women increased their role as producers, more assertive, independent, and autonomous women came to dominate the screens. This reinforced the modernized and liberal views that prevailed at that time.
In 1970, another change can be observed. This change was more with the way women dressed. In the previous decades, women were shown to have modest dresses. Nevertheless, the situation changed as women wearing skirts and bold dresses came to dominate the screens. This was again a manifestation of what was happening in society. As more women were wearing open and bold dresses, this was shown on the televisions. The above analysis of the T.V shows has revealed the changing nature of the depiction of women's roles. It shows that it evolved as the social realities varied with the passing time. For instance, in 1950 when the cult of domesticity, true womanhood, and true wife held sway in American society, the tv shows and dramas manifested this thought pattern in their depiction of the roles. Women engaged in household chores were deemed as responsible and praised for the way they manage their work. Most of the tv work of that time helped to tap these different housewives. The situation took a new turn in 1960 when women were striving for their rights. at the same time, the tv screen tapped to these varying realities. In the 70s, the situation further advanced as more women having liberal and bold dispositions became regular viewers. So, it can be concluded that the televisions portrayed women with the changing and evolving realities of the time.References:
- Maurer, Elizabeth L. “Tuning in to Women in Television.” SEPTEMBER 2016,
- Gregory, Mollie. Women who run the show: how a brilliant and creative new generation of women stormed Hollywood. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.