Narratives of desperation : 'genre, gender, and Desperate Housewives
This thesis investigates the history of the term 'desperation' when applied to female film and television genres, before examining how the first series Desperate Housewives draws from and adds to this history. In addition this thesis considers the increasing importance of male characters to the 'narrative of desperation' and argues that in the case of Desperate Housewives their role is crucial. The first two chapters provide a literature review. Chapter one looks at the history of the soap opera genre paying particular attention to its influence by the woman's film, its appeal to female audiences, and its configuration as a women's genre. Chapter two then collects together work on the narrative and visual representation of male characters in film and television to suggest how stereotypes have changed and theory has developed. Chapters three and four consider the term 'desperation' both as an autonomous concept and in the context of Desperate Housewives. Chapter three attempts to define desperation and place it within the context of films made for female viewers, from Now, Voyager (1942), to An Unmarried Woman (1978), as well as Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), and Bridget Jones Dairy (2001). With a 'desperate realities' and 'desperate fantasies' binary in mind, this chapter looks at what constitutes a narrative of desperation. Finally, chapter four inserts Desperate Housewives into the narrative of desperation and argues that increasingly this concept relies upon the inclusion of male characters as the heart of desire, victimization and suffering for female characters.
Advisor: Fowler, Catherine
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Media, Film and Communication Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis