Real Simple Real Life?

Is anyone else as disturbed by the new TLC show “Real Simple. Real Life.” as I am? Maybe I’m just sensitive but… doesn’t it reek of 1950’s bitter nostalgia? Sort of like those mini cocktail wieners. Of course there are your standard style shows, cooking shows, and home improvement shows. But this one differentiates itself from the slew of “life improvement” shows by having all the “experts” rolled up into one show. Now, if you can’t organize your cupboards OR dress yourself, you needn’t apply for many shows. There’s one that covers it all.
This is where it begins to haunt me. The women who come on this show are usually very busy moms. Their husbands all work, and some of women do too. Take for instance “Gabi”. She is a mother, wife, and Major in the air force. But as TLC helpfully points out on their website, “she’s had to juggle several roles, leaving her home, style and confidence out of balance.” Please, let’s ignore for one moment the glaring question “why can’t her husband help with the home?” and ask ourselves… why is it that a woman who is obviously very smart and successful balances her level of confidence on how her house and style look? How is it possible that this woman can rise to a high rank in a male-dominated profession, have children, run a home, and then feel insecure because her STYLE is out-of-date? Does anyone else agree that something is wrong here? Then she goes on national television and allows these so-called experts to rip her up on TV, and then build her into a brand-spanking new Mom.
The tearing down, then building up closely resembles the method the armed forces use to train cadets. It’s the notion that if you break them all down together, they will be completely unified when they come back up. Except these women aren’t training to go to war. They are simply running a household. But really, how could you ever be satisfied with yourself when there are garbage television shows on all day long that tell you what you’re doing isn’t good enough. You can do it better. Cleaner. Faster. Cuter.
TLC also proclaims that the hour long episodes will “share strategies to help make life easier.” So, supposedly one might draw from this the conclusion that if you are a woman, you should learn how to run a household while looking gorgeous every second of the day, and then your life will be easier? Now, I agree, organizing your closet would probably make your life easier. A pair of great fitting jeans does make you feel more confident. Learning how to make healthy meals for you and your family does probably make you feel like a more responsible parent. Of course it does. But why must this show be marketed ONLY to women? Do men not feel better in a pair of jeans that makes their ass look great? Aren’t there single dads out there who might want to learn to cook for their children? Again, of course there are! But they would never watch such a show. Perhaps because these shows are BORING. Perhaps because it would never be acceptable in our society for a man to watch such a show unless it was all machoed-up. (Case in point- “Guy’s Big Bite.”)
Haven’t we come a long way baby? So why are there shows on television (that take themselves seriously) teaching women how to be Stepford Wives? This show seems one step away from The Handmaid’s Tale. Not only does the show tell women that unless they can mother, partner, work, cook, and clean perfectly, all while wearing a sassy dress, they should have no confidence.
I see people roll their eyes when I say I’m a feminist. “What are you talking about? Women are equal.” they say. How can I possibly explain that the bastards are grinding us down by making us watch shit on TV? Get skinny. Dress pretty. Clean the goddamn house. Aren’t you fulfilled yet?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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