In the 1980s, domestic sitcoms on television proliferated with examples of men who performed domestic labor. In response to the women's movement, these “Mr. Mom” sitcoms liberated women from the domestic sphere and enabled men to claim it as their own. This article examines the potential impact of these series’ foregrounding of men and masculinities. In particular, it examines how the domestication of Mr. Moms highlighted the tensions between “new man” ideology persisting from the 1970s and 1980s Reagan-era machismo. The increasingly progressive attitudes toward women's work exhibited by Mr. Mom characters, coupled with the ultimate excision of the wife-mother character, resulted in complex, potentially queer, depictions of masculinity that help reveal feminist and antifeminist anxieties about the changing structure of the American family in the 1980s. This article won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Women's Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize in 2016.
Television's “Mr. Moms”: Idealizing the New Man in 1980s Domestic Sitcoms
Bridget Kies is a PhD candidate in media, cinema, and digital studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she teaches in the Film Studies and LGBT+ Studies programs. Her research examines masculinities on television and within fan communities. She has previously published in Transformative Works and Cultures, Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, Journal of Popular Romance Studies, Science Fiction Film and Television, and Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture.
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Bridget Kies; Television's “Mr. Moms”: Idealizing the New Man in 1980s Domestic Sitcoms. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2018; 4 (1): 142–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.1.142
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