I watch Murder, She Wrote. Yes, the 1980’s television series starring Angela Lansbury as a former school teacher from Maine-turned-best selling novelist and murder mystery-solving heroine. And NO, I’m not 60 years old. I just like it. And they have about 12 seasons on Netflix Watch Instantly, so there’s that.
While lounging in my bed post-hangover on Saturday afternoon watching my requisite episode of MSW, I noticed this:
That’s right, J. B. Fletcher is spreading the feminist love. And I love it. This particular episode is from 1989 (yours truly was just a wee one), aired just days before George H. W. Bush took the presidency.
What struck me most about this episode, aside from the obvious assertion that women should be able to have careers and support their families in modern times, was the use of entertainment television as a tool for social education and commentary. I noticed that a previous episode made several negative assertions about smoking cigarettes. This reminded me of a story on NPR I heard a couple weeks ago about daytime television writer Agnes Nixon, known for her work on One Life to Live, Guiding Light, and All My Children. Nixon used her words to introduce millions of viewers to important issues from cervical cancer and the importance of PAP smears to interracial relationships and homosexuality.
So, high-five for female writers and stars for bringing up important social issues to reach millions of grandmothers and stay-at-home dads watching their “stories” all across America, at a time when these issues were social taboos. Lansbury’s character on MSW could go for a serious fem/sociological unpacking herself, but I’ll leave that for another post.
This post is brought to you by Tara.