Wednesday, September 28, 2005

geena davis for president

So here it is, my reaction to last night's season/series premiere of ABC's Commander In Chief. (The new show about a woman VP-turned-President, played by none other than the fabtacular Geena Davis, for those of you who aren't up on your TV references.)

First, I'll say that it didn't do what I was deathly afraid of it doing....much. While it very much emphasized her role as mother, it didn't make her out to be an uber-maternal figure. They even cast her as up on militaristic strategies, something which I admit, I wasn't expecting. So, her representation as feminine-but-not-too-feminine, and masculine-but-not-too-masculine was pretty acceptable, for an ABC show.
A very, very (positively) surprising aspect was that they didn't masculinize the role of President too much, or the power that the President has. In order to be President, Geena Davis didn't have to give up many of her "feminine wiles," and they didn't dichotomize femininity/passivity and masculinity/power too much. So kudos to ABC for that.

The Hillary references were...interesting. I know they were meant sarcastically, but the degree of sarcasm and the degree of truth weren't very discernible, so the jury's still out on that part.

My biggest problem with the show's portrayal of the dynamics of a female president (that I've hashed out so far, at least), goes along with feministing's criticism:
Why is it that for a woman to be president, a man needs to be feminized?

This happened over and over in the show, when explaining the "duties" that the new Prez's husband would have as First Gentleman (conflated with "First Lady" a couple times). His office was very pink (ew), and the major duty that I saw the former First Lady's chief of staff explaining to him was overseeing the meal preparation and the menu choices -- a very feminized task. While this by itself wouldn't be so much of a problem, the husband acts completley lost and a little disgusted by being "demoted" in such a way. For comedy's sake, they've de-emphasized the domestic role as petty, and ridiculed it as "beneath" this guy's role.

Maybe, just maybe, it'll get better. It's got a good start, at least....

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