Old comedies - watching with a fresh eye.

(42 Posts)
kim147 Fri 13-Jun-14 20:03:50

MASH - Hawkeye is as sexist as you can get. The nurses just seem to be there for his amusement and enjoyment. The only main female lead is portrayed as humourless. No other female characters.

Cheers - where do you start with Sam Malone? Only 2 main female characters - Carla and Diane. Occasionally Lilith.

Looking back at them now, you can see they were of the age. Have things moved on?

ballsballsballs Fri 13-Jun-14 20:12:19

I watched Frank Spencer a few years ago and was horrified at the racism.

I recently saw the 'new' Poseidon film and it was hugely sexist . Women were there to scream, to be rescued and endanger the survivors by panicking. The heroic swimmer this time was a man, who only risked the swim after ensuring his adult Dd was handed over to her new owner...

kim147 Fri 13-Jun-14 20:13:46

Well - Towering Inferno was on today. Suffice it to say women only had one role. To be victims. How they were victims varied. But they were all victims to be rescued by brave men.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 13-Jun-14 20:15:37

I was going to start a thread on this. The pay for BBC iPlayer over here has loads of old comedies on it. The Good Life was shockingly sexist (but still funny). I was impressed at how feminist Waiting For God was.

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Fri 13-Jun-14 20:26:14

Watched some like it hot recently, a film I adore. I suddenly saw how offensive it was! Marylin's character is manipulated and lied to and basically tricked into sex by the tony Curtis character. There were other elements that made my jaw drop but I've forgotten just now... That was the biggie though.

kim147 Fri 13-Jun-14 20:28:43

Old Bond films have to be the worst. Eventually they got some female characters who were there not just as objects - but most of them aren't.

It's just astonishing to see that comedies were just seen as vehicles for men with mainly male characters and few women.

caroldecker Fri 13-Jun-14 20:40:23

Bond did play up to it a but though, with Pussy Galore etc, so slightly more 'knowing' than others

sisterbrute Fri 13-Jun-14 20:44:19

I've been watching the Mash reruns as well. There was one really good episode that concentrated on the nurses and their relationship with major houlihan. It was one of the best episodes probably because there was less of hawkeye. There was also one where a female Swedish doctor called him out on his sexism. That was good, but normal service resumed for the next episode. Hey ho..

Darkesteyes Fri 13-Jun-14 21:45:41

The Drama channel recently showed Brush Strokes I was 13 when it was first broadcast on BBC1 and loved it then. I used to think Lionel the boss was hilarious. I still do but My God watching this again in my v. early forties CHRIST he treated his wife like she was a piece of furniture. He was awful to her and the way Jacko treated women was really misogyny under the "cheeky chappy" persona.

Having said that, ITV3 are currently showing Man About The House and although it has its moments its nowhere near as misogynistic as the American How I Met Your Mother. In some cases the older stuff was better.

rosabud Fri 13-Jun-14 22:26:45

Is anyone else old enough to remember The Mary Tyler Moore Show? blush I remember thinking she was a very modern woman who stood up for herself. I haven't seen it for years but, hopefully, I wouldn't look at it again now and be horrified!

Also, the Liver Birds. My friend and I were very inspired by this at primary school and promised ourselves we would one day have jobs and live in a flat together and go to lots of parties smile

SpeverendRooner Sat 14-Jun-14 08:15:45

Bewitched is fascinating. Samantha is a witch with magic powers that don't seem to have any limits. She wants to be a Stepford wife to Darrin, specifically renouncing the use of her powers to do it. She just does what he says - at least when he's watching.

She didn't mention the "being a witch" thing until her wedding night.

Both the primary antagonists - Sam's mum and the nosy neighbour - are women whose husbands are much less problematic.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 14-Jun-14 08:24:56

Good thread.
We watched School For Scoundrels the other week, which is a very funny Terry Thomas film from the 1950s based on the One-Upmanship books.
The extent to which the female love interest is mean to just sit around and admire the men, ride in their cars and watch them play tennis, rather than ever do anything active herself, astonished me.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 14-Jun-14 08:54:20

Early Friends - Joey is a player for sleeping around, Rachel is described as a slut for kissing a few people

rosabud Sat 14-Jun-14 09:21:43

Oh yes to Bewitched - I think you could write a thesis on that show! Do you remember her cousin, Sabrina, who was played by the same actress but in a dark wig, the sexier, raicer, edgier, more mischievous alternative to Sam - she was always flirting with Darrin and the device allowed the show to explore and, to a limited extent, challenge some gender stereotypes.

I remember one episode where they had had a dinner party and, after all the guests had left, Darrin made Sam promise that she wouldn't use magic to clear up the dishes etc and then he went off to bed but he also told her not to be too long, the saucy implication being that he wanted sex (I know, shocking - even when I was watching it 20 years after it was made!). Interestingly, Sam realised that you cannot please a man in every department without exhausting yourself, so she used magic to sort the dishes out and then raced up the stairs!

Oh and the mother-in-law - classic horrid stereotype - but often shown in "softer" moments as only being very concerned for her daughter. And allowed to have all the funniest lines. Oh we could do a whole thread on Bewitched if anyone else was as sad and obsessed as me on the subject

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 14-Jun-14 10:34:02

I Dream of Jeanie was way worse that Bewitched. I kind of like Bewitched, the way Samantha was trying to be like the other women but couldn't quite bring herself to be so. And also her mother was awesome.

Mary Tyler Moore, and Rhoda were awesome. Definitely sexist bits but also stood up to sexism. I only watched That Girl a couple times but Marlo Thomas was a feminist and did Free to Be You and Me.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 14-Jun-14 10:34:39

Golden Girls and Designing women were definitely feminist.

GrendelsMinim Sat 14-Jun-14 10:39:45

Great Saturday morning thread!

I was reading some old detective novels recently, and developing a theory about the impact of detective novels on portraying female characters in a more well rounded way. My theory is that since every character has to have been able to commit the crime / murder, you have to create women characters who would be credible suspects, which means that they have to have desires and capabilities not too totally unequal to those of the male chAracters.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 14-Jun-14 11:17:47

Bewitched started in 1964! It's 50 years old, I'm actually surprised they got away with as much as they did considering even the witchcraft thing would have been taboo on US Tv at the time

fishdishwish Sat 14-Jun-14 12:29:30

I think even in some of the best-loved 1970s sitcoms there are moments which raise an eyebrow now!

I think the film from that era which takes the biscuit in terms of sexism has to be the first big-screen outing for On The Buses, where the depot take on (shock horror) women drivers, and Reg Varney and co aggressively attempt to sabotage them. It borders on pure misogyny.

Even The Two Ronnies, who I love, did The Worm That Turned, which was quite aggressively anti-feminist.

Still, I think there have been a good few sexist sitcoms in recent years, too. The women in Two Pints Of Lager seemed to just roll their eyes and be utterly charmed by the laddish antics of the blokes. Ditto Men Behaving Badly.

kim147 Sat 14-Jun-14 12:36:40

Thinking back to Fawlty Towers.

So you had Cybil - portrayed as a nag.
Polly - the attractive helper.

Any other women in the series - guests etc rarely had any prominence. They were seen as sex objects to be admired and lusted over or as the wife of the male guest who normally had the dominant role.

I can't think of any episode where a woman had an important role in the plot. Except as a sex object

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 14-Jun-14 12:43:27

I think there are more battle axes in Fawkty Towers than sex objects. Or spinsters. Anyway, not exactly positive role models. Though Polly did have a brain, at least

rosabud Sat 14-Jun-14 12:47:32

Wasn't Fawlty Towers very short-lived? So no time to develop characters unlike Bewitched or Friends whch ran for years and years. Fawlty Towers was more of a pastiche and everything about it, and every character, was there solely to act as a foil to the character of Basil (and, therefore, to showcase John Clesse's particular talent/style - I think you can argue the same for Michael Crawford in Some Mothers Do Ave Em). I don't remember Sybil as a nag - she was the straight character, the common sense foil. I think she came over as a very efficient and in charge business woman.

Darkesteyes Sat 14-Jun-14 14:08:45

At Easter two years ago I was having an interesting discussion on the Chat board about the old comedy films ITV3 was showing and On The Buses was one of them.
It was pointed out about the abusive way Arthur treated Olive and it was deemed to be funny at the time confused Hate the show but it was one of the first times an abuser was shown emotionally abusing his wife on tv.

Agree with rosebud. Sybil came across as strong and capable. Not a nag at all. She was the one really running that hotel.

I love the episode where she hit the cowboy builder O Reilly on the arm with her golfing brolly.

fishdishwish Sat 14-Jun-14 14:10:38

Agreed, rosebud - Sybil was the rational and practical one, in contrast to Basil's neuroses and snobbery. Likewise Polly (and let's not forget, Connie Booth co-wrote FT).

Are You Being Served? must be one of the worst offenders - the female characters were pretty much all either battleaxes or dolly birds.

And dare we get started on Benny Hill?!

DefiantRage Sat 14-Jun-14 14:12:10

I'm only in my 20's so most of the 'old' comedies have always been old to me, and I've always loved them but now when I watch them I'm gobsmacked at what they could get away with

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