Post Feminist Television Film Studies Essay

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1st Jan 1970 Film Studies Reference this

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The media creates powerful representations and therefore has a strong impact on what people believe in. Gender has always been present in media and it is the media that creates stereotypes and assumptions of it. The representation of women in media has changed throughout the years. In the 1950s women were always at home, taking care of their children and making sure that the house was clean and dinner served on time. In other words they were born to become mothers and wives and it was a man's role to work and provide for the family. In recent years on the other hand women in television are presented as successful businesswomen with extremely good sense of fashion and most of the time they are single.

Lotz explains that the term 'postfeminism' is used in media to 'explain contemporary gender politics' (2001:106).

Women are more present in media than ever, they play leading roles; they can be mothers, wives, and successful businesswomen without losing their femininity. The process was possible by connecting postconvergence of television with postfeminist culture. Bonnie J. Dow (1996) notices that The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) was one of the first examples of the shift from the domestic family situation shows into a single woman, career-oriented program. It is seen as the result of how powerful and influential feminism was at that time, creating new female audiences and allowing social changes in the way that women could fulfill themselves as successful and independent businesswomen without the need having a family. Dow (1996:26) argues that

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show created important parameters for future television discourse representing feminism, parameters that include a focus on working women (and a concomitant avoidance of a critique of the traditional patriarchal family), the deception of women's lives without male romantic partners, the enactment of a "feminist lifestyle" by young, attractive, white, heterosexual, female characters, and a reliance on the tenets of second-wave liberal or equity feminism.

The show helped in creating new audiences and encouraged women to find new ways of fulfilling themselves outside their 'shallow', filled with housework and looking after their children lives. At the same time it was addressed to 'women experiencing changes in their economic and familial status with stories infused with consciousness-raising perspectives and lifestyle politics' (Lotz, 2001:107).

Year 1986 brought significant changes to the way women were represented in media (Dow, 1996:nr). A third-wave of feminists' movements found coverage in television and press, women were more interested in educating themselves and building their careers around their family lives. Professions occupied previously only by men were now available for women, even though their pay was significantly lower.

Bonnie J. Dow (1996:105-108) recognises three modes of postfeminist US drama series: 'professional serial drama', with the example of L.A. Law (1986-1994) where women characters struggle to find a balance between professional life and a family life, 'postfeminist family television' (e.g. thirtysomething (1987-1991)) which illustrates an idealised version of a woman who can be a successful businesswoman and a perfect mother at the same time, and finally a 'postfeminist nirvana' (e.g. Designing Women (1986-1993)) showing successful women who are also single mothers and divorcees.

It was the end of 1990s when a new kind of television programs emerged with women as protagonists, these include: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Sex in the City (1998-2004) or Family Law (1999-2002). This was the time when a 'new, new woman' was introduced to television shows, much more complex than Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and bringing a new wave of feminism, also identified as 'postfeminism'. As Elyce Rae Helford says 'the late 90s offered some of the most developed and compelling (if contradictory and sometimes even reactionary) televisual representations of gender politics and debates over (and within) feminism' (2000a:6).

One of the most significant feminine role models in prime-time US television series was Ally McBeal (played by Calista Flockhart). She is an attractive, young, single and successful lawyer and a problematic character at the same time, struggling to find a man who would meet her expectations. Moseley and Read (2001:222) suggest that it was a combination of feminine discourses and feminist discourses that made Ally's character a subject of men gaze and a role model for feminists. The show challenges feminists' conventions regarding natural differences between men and women, underlying the fact that these differences can be eliminated or ignored entirely.

Sex and the city series is another example of how influential feminism is. Main characters are a group of friends, single independent women who gave up on looking for their perfect life partners, but unlike Ally they decide to live life to the full and act like men, without any commitments, feelings or sentiments. Every detail of their lives has its meaning: Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) rents a house, lives from paycheck to paycheck, but spends fortune on top of the range designer clothes and accessories which indicates on her lack of stability and frivolous relationships with opposite sex; Samantha Jones (played by Kim Cattrall) treats men like objects, repulses relationships, monogamy, institution of marriage and children; Miranda Hobbes (played by Cynthia Nixon) is a wealthy, cynical feminist who criticises men for taking advantage of women and cannot understand why no men are attracted to her; and finally Charlotte York (played by Kristin Davis) is an outcast of the series, who dreams about her ideal wedding and children, which shows her dedication to one person and traditionalism. There are no taboo subjects in this circle of friends, they share their sexual fantasies with each other, insult men and cherish their singledom.

There is a connection point between Ally McBeal and Sex and the City: both shows seek to change female nature into male behavious, but in both cases characters end up choosing traditional routes.

Unlike single women in Sex and the City, protagonists in Desperate Housewives (2004-) are far from being perfect feminine heroines: Mary Alice Young (played by Brenda Strong) kills herself in the first 5 minutes from the start of the series because she cannot live with the guilt of the crime she committed, Bree Van De Kamp (played by Marcia Cross) who is a widowed recovering alcoholic, obsessed with keeping a perfectly clean household to hide dirty secrets of her life, Lynette Scavo (played by Felicity Huffman) who used to be a successful businesswoman, but had to leave her job after giving birth to six children; Susan Meyer (played by Teri Hatcher) who is an emotionally unstable divorcee living with her teenage daughter; and finally Gabrielle Solis (played by Eva Longoria)- a former super-model who is an unemployed trophy wife to her wealthy husband and cheats on him on every occasion. The series suggest a completely different ways of finding fulfillment in lives of these 'domestic goddesses' as they do not seem to find satisfaction in their family lives, struggle with their ungrateful and overpowering children.

There are certain but slight different aspects of postfeminism visible in Gossip Girl (2007-). This new teen drama portrays young women as successful, independent, socially mobile and free to choose their destiny (McRobbie, 2007:270). The freedom that young women represent in the series is highlighted through material and sexual consumption. Just like in Sex and the City, protagonists in Gossip Girl are attractive, thin and well off. Anita Harris (2004:128) argues that a young in-control woman in twenty first century needs to actively participate in the flow of information technology, which shapes her sense of identity and gives her a technological capital, which can be acquired through knowing the latest technological trends, having the latest camera phone and Facebook or Twitter account. Gossip Girl is based on the book series of the same title written by Cecily von Ziegesar and tells the story about a group of teenagers living in Manhattan. Two main girl characters, Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively) and Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester), are almost every girl's 'wannabies': extremely beautiful, wealthy and privileged, and at the same time very unrealistic. It is almost impossible to identify with them, but the viewers can take pleasure from fantasising about the world they live in or identify themselves with Jenny Humphrey (played by Taylor Momsen), who attends the same school and Blair and Serena, but comes from a 'normal' middle class family and can never be 'one of these girls' (Pattee, 2006:167).

The aspect of post-feminism in Gossip Girl series is portrayed through the lifestyle and the consumption of culture of Blair and Serena. They are both socially active, but it is Blair who has the most dominating characteristics. She named herself the 'Queen Bee', positioned herself at the top of the hierarchy at school, which means that every decision made by any of her peer needs to be authorized by her. She victimises girls that do not match her taste, makes fun of them and blocks their way to all social evens. On the other hand Blair is very insecure about herself, hates losing or being alone. She needs constant appreciation and acceptance, especially when Serena tries to 'steal her crown'. In episode 4 of the first series she says to Serena: '(…) you could not deal with the spotlight shining on me for once, could you? Because you steal everything from me: Nate, my mom and girls at school' (2007).

Throughout the years women revolutionalised prime-time television. From Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal, Carrie Bradshaws from Sex and the City, Bree Van De Camp from Desperate Housewives and Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf from Gossip girl, every woman finds her ideal character features she wants to implement into her life.

FEMALE NARRATORS- VOICE-OVER NARRATION IN POSTFEMINIST DRAMA SERIES

The female voice has enormous conceptual and discursive range once it is freed from its claustral confinement within the female body. It is capable of talking about terrorism, anger, melancholia, homosexual as well as heterosexual desire, ancient Mexican divinities, soap operas, Emma Goldman, the circulation of money and even cinema itself (Silverman, 1988:186).

Kathleen A McHaugh (2001:3) notices that voice-over narration has a long history in American cinema, began in 1930s and was mostly presented by men. Silverman (1988:ix) argues that female voice-over narration is rare and only occurs in experimental feminist productions. McHaugh (2001:3) says that women storytellers is only a recent development, but very rarely occurs in noir films.

Susan Snaider Lancer has described female narrators' voices as 'a site of crisis, contradiction, or challenge' (1992:7). Women narrators help in defining textual effects and function as a link between language and the feminine body.

Voice-over narration is typical in most television programs and as Kozloff (1987) notices, the voice-over narration helps to introduce the story, reveals thoughts and emotions. The number of prime-time television shows with voice-over narration has risen in recent years, these include: Felicity (1998-2002), Aliens in America (2007-2008), How I Met Your Mother (2005-), Heroes (2006-2010), Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009), Scrubs (2001-2010), Grey's Anatomy (2005-), Pushing Daisies (2007-2009), My Name Is Earl (2005-2009), Dexter (2006-) and analysed in this work Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives (which popularised omniscient narration with its premiere in 2004) and Sex and the City.

Although female voice-over narration is most often associated with television series, there are examples of it on the big screen. These include films like Fried Green Tomatoes (Avnet, 1991), Orlando (Potter, 1993), Clueless (Heckerling, 1995), Bound (Wachowski Bros, 1996), Daughters of the Dust (Dash, 1996) or Mansfield Park (Rozema, 1999). The common characteristic for all these films is that they are either experimental cinemas or independent productions, which leads to the conclusion that female voice-over narration very rarely occurs is box office productions.

The voice-over narration is repeatedly chosen in films where the characters deal with trauma (McHaugh, 2001:5) to mark the seriousness of its circumstances (war films, in these cases however, the narrator is male) or in films where protagonists tell their 'coming of age stories', with the examples of Titanic (Cameron, 1997) and Notebook (Cassavetes, 2004).

THE IMPORTANCE OF VOICE-OVER NARRATION: OMNISCIENCE IN THE AGE OF GOSIPDOM

Sarah Kozloff (1988:5) says that 'voice-over narration can be formally defined as oral statements, conveying any portion of a narrative, spoken by an unseen speaker situated in a space and time other than that simultaneously being presented by the images on the screen'.

Kozloff (1988:3) claims that 'in 'voice-over narration' all three words are fully operative'. Voice controls the medium, over is a connection between the narrator and the image on the screen (the narrator in not visible at that time) and narration is the message being sent from the narrator to the viewer (Kozloff, 1988:3).

The aim of this section is to explore forms and functions of female voice-over narration in the television series Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl with the main focus on Desperate Housewives series. To fully understand the agenda of each one of them, it is important to fully analyse who the narrators are and what they represent. The research for this article is based on analysis of the first three series of each television program with the main focus on their voice-over narration.

It is worth noticing that all three television shows belong to different genre. Although Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives both focus on private lives of their four main characters, they differ in length of the episodes: approximately 25 minutes of Sex and the City, which classifies it as a sitcom and approximately 45 minutes of Desperate Housewives, which classes it to a drama series category (similarly to Gossip Girl, which is a teen drama with episodes approximately 45 minutes long).

Although in Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City we know who the narrator is, we rarely see them speaking. It is what Allrath et al. calls a 'non-visible narrator's voice' (year:15). The narrator shows the viewers around, introduces the scenes that they look at without showing his or her face to help them understand the main focus of the episode.

One of the reasons why the narrator is present in television series is that he or she gets to choose what the viewer should focus on by defining what scenes are shown: 'Voice-over narration changes the quality of the visual, adding a subjective note by implying that what the audience is watching has been chosen by the narrator' (Hoth, 2010:82).

In Sex and the City the voice-over is provided by one of the protagonists- Carrie Bradshaw. She is a newspaper columnist writing about female sexuality and her voice-over represents her thoughts about hers and her three friends' sexual exploits.

The Sex and the City series start with the narrator's statement, the 'naked truth' about the times we live in:

Welcome to the age of 'un-innocence'. No one has breakfast at Tiffany's and no one has affairs to remember. Instead, we have breakfast at 7 a.m. and affairs we try to forget as quickly as possible. Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flown the co-op (S01E01, 1998).

The message that comes with the above statement is cruel but simple: romantic love does not exist any more, but it becomes untrue later on in the series as we learn that all of the characters are looking for true love, romantic dinners and honest feelings.

The theme of each episode is a series of questions of different sexual subject that she ponders about with her closest friends, and answers to these questions she puts in a form of an article to her sex column: 'I explore those sorts of issues in my column and I have terrific sources- my friends' (Carrie Bradshaw: S01E01, 1998).

Each episode starts with the view of Carrie sitting in front of her laptop. She ponders on the sexual dilemmas by sharing her internal thoughts, which is a rare characteristic for television series featuring single women.

Singledom is the subject that Carrie very often comes back to. As an unmarried woman herself, she tries to find the resolution to the nurturing stereotype that 'it is easier to be killed by a terrorist that it is for a woman to get married after 30' (Carrie Bradshaw: S01E01, 1998). She often brings up the statistics about the number of singles in Manhattan, trying to convince herself about the endless possibilities of finding a perfect life partner.

The filming technique being used in the series help the viewer to identify with the narrator. The camera movements makes the viewers feel that they perform the same activities as Carrie: the camera moves as she looks through the window, walks around her flat or zooms in on her computer screen the same moment when Carrie looks at it.

Carrie's voice-over is technology mediated, whatever she thinks she types on her laptop. Her thoughts at the same time are available to public audience, making her private life dilemmas a public read. Sex and the City uses female narration to intervene in feminine discourses regarding female sexuality and lifestyle choices. For example in episode in episode 2 of the first series Carrie says: 'the truth was I thought I had come to terms with my looks the year I turned 30, when I realised that I no longer had the energy to be superficial' (1998). She is very honest about her sexuality.

When at the beginning of the third series Carrie starts dating a twenty six year old, bisexual man named Sean (played by Eddie Cahill), she soon realises how uncomfortable she feels being with someone who is not only attracted to her, but still has feelings for his ex boyfriend. But this is not what she was expecting. At the beginning of episode 4 of the third series she states: 'it's been said that New Yorkers are the most jaded people in the world. The fact is we've pretty much done and seen it all. It takes quite a bit to shock us…'(S03E04, 2000). It was only after she met Sean's ex boyfriend, who also happened to be married to a guy and had a daughter with his ex girlfriend who was also married to another woman, when Carrie realised how strong she feels about her sexuality.

Carrie provides the voice-over narration to each episode. Her voice-over also frames each episode. Her prologue introduces the topic of the episode, e.g.:

Let's be honest. Sometimes there is nothing harder in life than being happy for somebody else, like lottery winners or extremely successful people who are twenty something. And then there is the hell on earth that only your closest friends can inflict on- the baby shower (S01E10, 1998).

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The statements that she gives us at the beginning make the viewers aware of her insecurity and subjectivity. Usually the entire episode is based on Carrie's thoughts and dilemmas that she shares with her friends, analyses them and provides possible answers and resolutions at the end of the episode.

Carrie uses a very innovative and unusual technique to share her thoughts with the viewers. Especially in the first and the second series she gives background information by directly addressing it to the audience. It seems like she 'pauses' the world behind her, e.g. during a telephone conversation, she stops talking, looks in the camera and starts talking to the viewers.

Similarly, when Carrie does the research for her column article, she asks random passers-by for their opinion and usually they look straight in the camera while giving their answers.

Both mentioned above techniques cause confusion to the viewer, it is hard to say if she talks to the viewer or becomes one.

Mary Alice Young

The first series of Desperate Housewives opens with scenes of a 'model housewife', Mary Alice Young (played by Brenda Strong), preparing a family breakfast, painting a chair, polishing and dusting- and then killing herself just after she has finished these tasks. Her voiceover interrupts the suicide to say:

in truth I spent the day as I spend every other day, quietly polishing the routine of my life until it gleamed with perfection. That's why it was so astonishing when I decided to go to my hallway closet and retrieve a revolver that has never been used' (S01E01, 2004).

She says these words with a very calm tone of voice, almost as she was telling a story that ends with a happy end, or even as she was talking about somebody else. Does she think of her suicide as of a happy moment? What about her family? What about all these people she left behind? Why did she even do that? Why did no one predict it? Apparently suicidal thoughts are an 'involuntary thoughts' and people who want to take their lives away just want to stop hurting. This proves the point that Mary Alice did stop hurting and it seems that committing suicide dehumanised her and took away all her feelings.

This moment of suicide enables her to become the omniscient god-like narrator of the series, whose voiceover tells the story from Heaven. Mary's suicide thus makes her central to the main plot line of the first season of the show, since her fatal pulling of the trigger is precisely what triggers the dynamics of investigation and the show's gradual revelations about her past.

Listening to Mary Alice the viewer gets the impression of listening to a good old friend, which gives the feeling of authenticity of the series. She can be classified as a heterodiegetic, third person narrator, because she talks about her past, has no active position in the series and her voice starts and ends each episode.

This kind of narrative sets up an enigma, which incites the series and gives the viewer something to look forward to every week.

Sarah Kozloff (1988) has called the narrator who begins and ends the story a 'frame narrator'. She claims that frame narrators possess a greater degree of believability, also called 'authentication authority'- the ability to establish and verify the facts of the fictional world. At the end of each episode she sumarises it and helps to understand its message that people believe is true, sharing her worldly wisdom with the viewers:

we honour heroes for different reasons. Sometimes for their daring. Sometimes fort heir bravery. Sometimes for their goodness. But mostly we honour heroes because at one point or another we all dream of being rescued. Of course if the right hero doesn't come along, sometimes we just have to rescue ourselves (S01E17, 2004).

A perfect housewife leaves her family behind to lead us through the mysterious lives of the people of Wisteria Lane, but what her best friends, and at the same time the main protagonists of the story, want to know is why did she do it? Suspicions arise when four of Mary Alice's best friends: Susan (played by Teri Hatcher), Bree (played by Marcia Cross), Lynette (played by Felicity Huffman) and Gabrielle (played by Eva Longoria) find a note in her belongings: 'I know what you did, it makes me sick, I'm going to tell' (S01E01, 2004).

This opening to the series provided an effective entry into the unfolding narrative, setting up new enigmas week by week and encourages watching following episodes. The secret is revealed at the end of season one and after that the stories that she tells are not related with her family or herself. This is also the time when her son and husband move out from Wisteria Lane. All she does from this moment is commenting on her friends' problems, lies and affairs.

Surprisingly to all the living, she says something that no one would ever think about, which intensifies this enigma:

an odd thing happens when we die, our senses vanish: taste, touch, smell and sound become a distant memory, but our sight… oh our sight expands and we can suddenly see the world we've left behind so clearly. Of course, most of what's visible to the dead, could also be seen by the living, if they'd only taken time to look (S01E02, 2004).

This provides the character's way of explaining where her omniscience comes from. By saying this she also explains herself that all she has got left are memories, but what she gained is the limitless access to people's lives and thoughts.

Thanks to Mary Alice the dirty secrets, affairs, illnesses and financial problems of Wisteria Lane are made public. At the beginning of each episode the voice-over prologue introduces more and more complications to the narrative and new information about the characters in the series. For example in episode 2 of the first series Mary Alice reveals Gabrielle's secret:

(…) like my friend Gabrielle. I should have seen how unhappy she was, but I didn't. I only saw her clothes from Paris and her platinum jewellery, and her brand new diamond watch. If I looked closer, I would have seen Gabrielle was a drowning woman, desperately in search of a life raft. Luckily for her, she found one. Of course Gabrielle only saw her young gardener as a way to infuse her life with little excitement. But now she was about to discover just how exciting her life could get (2004).

Following this statement Mary Alice proceeds to showing Gabrielle's husband getting out of his car while she is having a bath with her lover. Narrator's prologue functions as the time to reveal her friends' dirty secrets and also to show who they really are 'behind the closed doors'.

Another example could be episode 15 of the first series where Mary Alice shows Bree finding a condom in the laundry basket:

Bree Van De Kamp believed in old-fashioned values, such as respect for God, the importance of family and love of country. In fact Bree believed so strongly in her values, it was always a shock whenever she was confronted with those who didn't' (2004).

Mary Alice knew her friend so well that she instantly knew what Bree's reaction would be- to find out if her husband is cheating or if one of her children has pre-marital sex. She predicts characters' actions, knows the resolution to their problems, but waits with the reveal and gives hints of what is going to happen next.

At the end of every episode Mary Alice's voice-over summarises the events, which she has unfolded with an epilogue and teases the viewer with what is going to happen next:

(…) yes, each new day in suburbia brings with it a new set of lies, the worst are the ones we tell ourselves before we fall asleep. We whisper them in the dark, telling ourselves we are happy or that he is happy, that we can change or that he will change his mind. We persuade ourselves we can live with our sins or that we can live without him. Yes, each night before we fall asleep we lie to ourselves in a desperate, desperate hope that come morning it will all be true (S01E15, 2004).

Suburban areas used to be portrayed as idyllic places, where people grew up in their communities, raised their kids and everyone was extremely nice to each other. With Mary Alice's words the impression that the viewer gets is that the association of this idyllic place has been turned upside down. It seems that there are lots of lies and secrets that it 'holds', which makes it an example of juxtaposition for the truth about the series, she explains: 'Suburbia is a battleground, an arena for all forms of domestic combat' (S01E06, 2004). Another example of this kind is shown in episode 2 of the second series, where Mary Alice says:

beautiful lawns. Spacious homes. Happy families. These are the hallmarks of suburbia. But if you look beneath the veneer of gracious living, you will see a battle raging. A battle for control. You see the combatants everywhere, engaged in their routine skirmishes fighting fiercely to have dominion over the world around them (2005).

The way that suburbia is presented in Desperate Housewives denies being 'a sacred domestic space of mutual trust and affection, altruistic care, peaceful innocence, religious inspiration, security from outside interference, and all-encompassing virtue' (Hebel, 2005:187).

What is striking about this statement is that the narrator of the series is presented as authoritative, truthful and realistic, while people living on Wisteria Lane and the idea of the place itself are illusive. Everyone attends Mary Alice's funeral, which either proves a strong relationship between neighbours or is a gesture of politeness in the community. Everyone seeks scandal in modern world, there are no perfect places mentioned by Hebel (2005:187), they varnished the moment the first crime was committed and the truth hidden:

(…) yes, everyone loves a scandal, no matter how big or small. After all, what could be more entertaining than watching the downfall of the high and mighty. What could be more amusing than the public exposure of hypocritical sinners. Yes, everyone loves a scandal, and if for some reason you're not enjoying the latest one, well, the next one is always around the corner (Mary Alice, S01E16, 2005).

Mary Alice is initially portrayed by her friends- the main protagonists- as the nicest person they have ever met. At the wake, Bree, Lynette, Gabrielle and Susan gather at a dining table, stare briefly at the chair that Mary Alice used to sit on and start pondering about their friend's life. They cannot believe that someone so happy could have done something so terrible. Gabrielle reflects: 'what kind of problems could she have had? She was healthy, had a great home, a nice family. If Mary Alice was having some sort of crisis, we would have known, she lives fifty feet away for God's sake' (S01E01).

There are many situations throughout the series when Mary Alice's apparent narrative omnipresence and omnipotence are demonstrated. When she says that 'to understand Maisy Gibbons (played by Sharon Lawrence), you first need to know how she spends her afternoons' (S01E10, 2004) and then proceeds to show the viewers how Maisy does her husband's laundry, helps her children with their homework and works as a prostitute in the afternoons when her family is not at home. It is a shocking juxtaposition to the way that her neighbours see her: as a perfect mother and an exemplary housewife. The interesting fact here is that Maisy is not a main character in the series and here almost the whole episode is dedicated to her.

The narrator's voice is always very calm, the viewer is never able to notice any emotions driving her. She speaks with a lot of confidence and authority because she is aware of the fact that she knows everything and everyone.

Sometimes she gives the viewer the impression of interacting with other characters. When her friends gather to pack up her belongings and Gabrielle notices that all Mary Alice's clothes were size 8, not size 6 like she had been telling everyone, she drops a comment: 'Guess we found a skeleton in her closet' (S01E01, 2004), Mary Alice responds: 'Not quite Gabrielle, not quite' (S01E01, 2004), which insinuates that even darker secrets are to be revealed in the future.

The media creates powerful representations and therefore has a strong impact on what people believe in. Gender has always been present in media and it is the media that creates stereotypes and assumptions of it. The representation of women in media has changed throughout the years. In the 1950s women were always at home, taking care of their children and making sure that the house was clean and dinner served on time. In other words they were born to become mothers and wives and it was a man's role to work and provide for the family. In recent years on the other hand women in television are presented as successful businesswomen with extremely good sense of fashion and most of the time they are single.

Lotz explains that the term 'postfeminism' is used in media to 'explain contemporary gender politics' (2001:106).

Women are more present in media than ever, they play leading roles; they can be mothers, wives, and successful businesswomen without losing their femininity. The process was possible by connecting postconvergence of television with postfeminist culture. Bonnie J. Dow (1996) notices that The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) was one of the first examples of the shift from the domestic family situation shows into a single woman, career-oriented program. It is seen as the result of how powerful and influential feminism was at that time, creating new female audiences and allowing social changes in the way that women could fulfill themselves as successful and independent businesswomen without the need having a family. Dow (1996:26) argues that

The Mary Tyler Moore Show created important parameters for future television discourse representing feminism, parameters that include a focus on working women (and a concomitant avoidance of a critique of the traditional patriarchal family), the deception of women's lives without male romantic partners, the enactment of a "feminist lifestyle" by young, attractive, white, heterosexual, female characters, and a reliance on the tenets of second-wave liberal or equity feminism.

The show helped in creating new audiences and encouraged women to find new ways of fulfilling themselves outside their 'shallow', filled with housework and looking after their children lives. At the same time it was addressed to 'women experiencing changes in their economic and familial status with stories infused with consciousness-raising perspectives and lifestyle politics' (Lotz, 2001:107).

Year 1986 brought significant changes to the way women were represented in media (Dow, 1996:nr). A third-wave of feminists' movements found coverage in television and press, women were more interested in educating themselves and building their careers around their family lives. Professions occupied previously only by men were now available for women, even though their pay was significantly lower.

Bonnie J. Dow (1996:105-108) recognises three modes of postfeminist US drama series: 'professional serial drama', with the example of L.A. Law (1986-1994) where women characters struggle to find a balance between professional life and a family life, 'postfeminist family television' (e.g. thirtysomething (1987-1991)) which illustrates an idealised version of a woman who can be a successful businesswoman and a perfect mother at the same time, and finally a 'postfeminist nirvana' (e.g. Designing Women (1986-1993)) showing successful women who are also single mothers and divorcees.

It was the end of 1990s when a new kind of television programs emerged with women as protagonists, these include: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Sex in the City (1998-2004) or Family Law (1999-2002). This was the time when a 'new, new woman' was introduced to television shows, much more complex than Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and bringing a new wave of feminism, also identified as 'postfeminism'. As Elyce Rae Helford says 'the late 90s offered some of the most developed and compelling (if contradictory and sometimes even reactionary) televisual representations of gender politics and debates over (and within) feminism' (2000a:6).

One of the most significant feminine role models in prime-time US television series was Ally McBeal (played by Calista Flockhart). She is an attractive, young, single and successful lawyer and a problematic character at the same time, struggling to find a man who would meet her expectations. Moseley and Read (2001:222) suggest that it was a combination of feminine discourses and feminist discourses that made Ally's character a subject of men gaze and a role model for feminists. The show challenges feminists' conventions regarding natural differences between men and women, underlying the fact that these differences can be eliminated or ignored entirely.

Sex and the city series is another example of how influential feminism is. Main characters are a group of friends, single independent women who gave up on looking for their perfect life partners, but unlike Ally they decide to live life to the full and act like men, without any commitments, feelings or sentiments. Every detail of their lives has its meaning: Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) rents a house, lives from paycheck to paycheck, but spends fortune on top of the range designer clothes and accessories which indicates on her lack of stability and frivolous relationships with opposite sex; Samantha Jones (played by Kim Cattrall) treats men like objects, repulses relationships, monogamy, institution of marriage and children; Miranda Hobbes (played by Cynthia Nixon) is a wealthy, cynical feminist who criticises men for taking advantage of women and cannot understand why no men are attracted to her; and finally Charlotte York (played by Kristin Davis) is an outcast of the series, who dreams about her ideal wedding and children, which shows her dedication to one person and traditionalism. There are no taboo subjects in this circle of friends, they share their sexual fantasies with each other, insult men and cherish their singledom.

There is a connection point between Ally McBeal and Sex and the City: both shows seek to change female nature into male behavious, but in both cases characters end up choosing traditional routes.

Unlike single women in Sex and the City, protagonists in Desperate Housewives (2004-) are far from being perfect feminine heroines: Mary Alice Young (played by Brenda Strong) kills herself in the first 5 minutes from the start of the series because she cannot live with the guilt of the crime she committed, Bree Van De Kamp (played by Marcia Cross) who is a widowed recovering alcoholic, obsessed with keeping a perfectly clean household to hide dirty secrets of her life, Lynette Scavo (played by Felicity Huffman) who used to be a successful businesswoman, but had to leave her job after giving birth to six children; Susan Meyer (played by Teri Hatcher) who is an emotionally unstable divorcee living with her teenage daughter; and finally Gabrielle Solis (played by Eva Longoria)- a former super-model who is an unemployed trophy wife to her wealthy husband and cheats on him on every occasion. The series suggest a completely different ways of finding fulfillment in lives of these 'domestic goddesses' as they do not seem to find satisfaction in their family lives, struggle with their ungrateful and overpowering children.

There are certain but slight different aspects of postfeminism visible in Gossip Girl (2007-). This new teen drama portrays young women as successful, independent, socially mobile and free to choose their destiny (McRobbie, 2007:270). The freedom that young women represent in the series is highlighted through material and sexual consumption. Just like in Sex and the City, protagonists in Gossip Girl are attractive, thin and well off. Anita Harris (2004:128) argues that a young in-control woman in twenty first century needs to actively participate in the flow of information technology, which shapes her sense of identity and gives her a technological capital, which can be acquired through knowing the latest technological trends, having the latest camera phone and Facebook or Twitter account. Gossip Girl is based on the book series of the same title written by Cecily von Ziegesar and tells the story about a group of teenagers living in Manhattan. Two main girl characters, Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively) and Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester), are almost every girl's 'wannabies': extremely beautiful, wealthy and privileged, and at the same time very unrealistic. It is almost impossible to identify with them, but the viewers can take pleasure from fantasising about the world they live in or identify themselves with Jenny Humphrey (played by Taylor Momsen), who attends the same school and Blair and Serena, but comes from a 'normal' middle class family and can never be 'one of these girls' (Pattee, 2006:167).

The aspect of post-feminism in Gossip Girl series is portrayed through the lifestyle and the consumption of culture of Blair and Serena. They are both socially active, but it is Blair who has the most dominating characteristics. She named herself the 'Queen Bee', positioned herself at the top of the hierarchy at school, which means that every decision made by any of her peer needs to be authorized by her. She victimises girls that do not match her taste, makes fun of them and blocks their way to all social evens. On the other hand Blair is very insecure about herself, hates losing or being alone. She needs constant appreciation and acceptance, especially when Serena tries to 'steal her crown'. In episode 4 of the first series she says to Serena: '(…) you could not deal with the spotlight shining on me for once, could you? Because you steal everything from me: Nate, my mom and girls at school' (2007).

Throughout the years women revolutionalised prime-time television. From Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal, Carrie Bradshaws from Sex and the City, Bree Van De Camp from Desperate Housewives and Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf from Gossip girl, every woman finds her ideal character features she wants to implement into her life.

FEMALE NARRATORS- VOICE-OVER NARRATION IN POSTFEMINIST DRAMA SERIES

The female voice has enormous conceptual and discursive range once it is freed from its claustral confinement within the female body. It is capable of talking about terrorism, anger, melancholia, homosexual as well as heterosexual desire, ancient Mexican divinities, soap operas, Emma Goldman, the circulation of money and even cinema itself (Silverman, 1988:186).

Kathleen A McHaugh (2001:3) notices that voice-over narration has a long history in American cinema, began in 1930s and was mostly presented by men. Silverman (1988:ix) argues that female voice-over narration is rare and only occurs in experimental feminist productions. McHaugh (2001:3) says that women storytellers is only a recent development, but very rarely occurs in noir films.

Susan Snaider Lancer has described female narrators' voices as 'a site of crisis, contradiction, or challenge' (1992:7). Women narrators help in defining textual effects and function as a link between language and the feminine body.

Voice-over narration is typical in most television programs and as Kozloff (1987) notices, the voice-over narration helps to introduce the story, reveals thoughts and emotions. The number of prime-time television shows with voice-over narration has risen in recent years, these include: Felicity (1998-2002), Aliens in America (2007-2008), How I Met Your Mother (2005-), Heroes (2006-2010), Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009), Scrubs (2001-2010), Grey's Anatomy (2005-), Pushing Daisies (2007-2009), My Name Is Earl (2005-2009), Dexter (2006-) and analysed in this work Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives (which popularised omniscient narration with its premiere in 2004) and Sex and the City.

Although female voice-over narration is most often associated with television series, there are examples of it on the big screen. These include films like Fried Green Tomatoes (Avnet, 1991), Orlando (Potter, 1993), Clueless (Heckerling, 1995), Bound (Wachowski Bros, 1996), Daughters of the Dust (Dash, 1996) or Mansfield Park (Rozema, 1999). The common characteristic for all these films is that they are either experimental cinemas or independent productions, which leads to the conclusion that female voice-over narration very rarely occurs is box office productions.

The voice-over narration is repeatedly chosen in films where the characters deal with trauma (McHaugh, 2001:5) to mark the seriousness of its circumstances (war films, in these cases however, the narrator is male) or in films where protagonists tell their 'coming of age stories', with the examples of Titanic (Cameron, 1997) and Notebook (Cassavetes, 2004).

THE IMPORTANCE OF VOICE-OVER NARRATION: OMNISCIENCE IN THE AGE OF GOSIPDOM

Sarah Kozloff (1988:5) says that 'voice-over narration can be formally defined as oral statements, conveying any portion of a narrative, spoken by an unseen speaker situated in a space and time other than that simultaneously being presented by the images on the screen'.

Kozloff (1988:3) claims that 'in 'voice-over narration' all three words are fully operative'. Voice controls the medium, over is a connection between the narrator and the image on the screen (the narrator in not visible at that time) and narration is the message being sent from the narrator to the viewer (Kozloff, 1988:3).

The aim of this section is to explore forms and functions of female voice-over narration in the television series Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl with the main focus on Desperate Housewives series. To fully understand the agenda of each one of them, it is important to fully analyse who the narrators are and what they represent. The research for this article is based on analysis of the first three series of each television program with the main focus on their voice-over narration.

It is worth noticing that all three television shows belong to different genre. Although Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives both focus on private lives of their four main characters, they differ in length of the episodes: approximately 25 minutes of Sex and the City, which classifies it as a sitcom and approximately 45 minutes of Desperate Housewives, which classes it to a drama series category (similarly to Gossip Girl, which is a teen drama with episodes approximately 45 minutes long).

Although in Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City we know who the narrator is, we rarely see them speaking. It is what Allrath et al. calls a 'non-visible narrator's voice' (year:15). The narrator shows the viewers around, introduces the scenes that they look at without showing his or her face to help them understand the main focus of the episode.

One of the reasons why the narrator is present in television series is that he or she gets to choose what the viewer should focus on by defining what scenes are shown: 'Voice-over narration changes the quality of the visual, adding a subjective note by implying that what the audience is watching has been chosen by the narrator' (Hoth, 2010:82).

In Sex and the City the voice-over is provided by one of the protagonists- Carrie Bradshaw. She is a newspaper columnist writing about female sexuality and her voice-over represents her thoughts about hers and her three friends' sexual exploits.

The Sex and the City series start with the narrator's statement, the 'naked truth' about the times we live in:

Welcome to the age of 'un-innocence'. No one has breakfast at Tiffany's and no one has affairs to remember. Instead, we have breakfast at 7 a.m. and affairs we try to forget as quickly as possible. Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flown the co-op (S01E01, 1998).

The message that comes with the above statement is cruel but simple: romantic love does not exist any more, but it becomes untrue later on in the series as we learn that all of the characters are looking for true love, romantic dinners and honest feelings.

The theme of each episode is a series of questions of different sexual subject that she ponders about with her closest friends, and answers to these questions she puts in a form of an article to her sex column: 'I explore those sorts of issues in my column and I have terrific sources- my friends' (Carrie Bradshaw: S01E01, 1998).

Each episode starts with the view of Carrie sitting in front of her laptop. She ponders on the sexual dilemmas by sharing her internal thoughts, which is a rare characteristic for television series featuring single women.

Singledom is the subject that Carrie very often comes back to. As an unmarried woman herself, she tries to find the resolution to the nurturing stereotype that 'it is easier to be killed by a terrorist that it is for a woman to get married after 30' (Carrie Bradshaw: S01E01, 1998). She often brings up the statistics about the number of singles in Manhattan, trying to convince herself about the endless possibilities of finding a perfect life partner.

The filming technique being used in the series help the viewer to identify with the narrator. The camera movements makes the viewers feel that they perform the same activities as Carrie: the camera moves as she looks through the window, walks around her flat or zooms in on her computer screen the same moment when Carrie looks at it.

Carrie's voice-over is technology mediated, whatever she thinks she types on her laptop. Her thoughts at the same time are available to public audience, making her private life dilemmas a public read. Sex and the City uses female narration to intervene in feminine discourses regarding female sexuality and lifestyle choices. For example in episode in episode 2 of the first series Carrie says: 'the truth was I thought I had come to terms with my looks the year I turned 30, when I realised that I no longer had the energy to be superficial' (1998). She is very honest about her sexuality.

When at the beginning of the third series Carrie starts dating a twenty six year old, bisexual man named Sean (played by Eddie Cahill), she soon realises how uncomfortable she feels being with someone who is not only attracted to her, but still has feelings for his ex boyfriend. But this is not what she was expecting. At the beginning of episode 4 of the third series she states: 'it's been said that New Yorkers are the most jaded people in the world. The fact is we've pretty much done and seen it all. It takes quite a bit to shock us…'(S03E04, 2000). It was only after she met Sean's ex boyfriend, who also happened to be married to a guy and had a daughter with his ex girlfriend who was also married to another woman, when Carrie realised how strong she feels about her sexuality.

Carrie provides the voice-over narration to each episode. Her voice-over also frames each episode. Her prologue introduces the topic of the episode, e.g.:

Let's be honest. Sometimes there is nothing harder in life than being happy for somebody else, like lottery winners or extremely successful people who are twenty something. And then there is the hell on earth that only your closest friends can inflict on- the baby shower (S01E10, 1998).

The statements that she gives us at the beginning make the viewers aware of her insecurity and subjectivity. Usually the entire episode is based on Carrie's thoughts and dilemmas that she shares with her friends, analyses them and provides possible answers and resolutions at the end of the episode.

Carrie uses a very innovative and unusual technique to share her thoughts with the viewers. Especially in the first and the second series she gives background information by directly addressing it to the audience. It seems like she 'pauses' the world behind her, e.g. during a telephone conversation, she stops talking, looks in the camera and starts talking to the viewers.

Similarly, when Carrie does the research for her column article, she asks random passers-by for their opinion and usually they look straight in the camera while giving their answers.

Both mentioned above techniques cause confusion to the viewer, it is hard to say if she talks to the viewer or becomes one.

Mary Alice Young

The first series of Desperate Housewives opens with scenes of a 'model housewife', Mary Alice Young (played by Brenda Strong), preparing a family breakfast, painting a chair, polishing and dusting- and then killing herself just after she has finished these tasks. Her voiceover interrupts the suicide to say:

in truth I spent the day as I spend every other day, quietly polishing the routine of my life until it gleamed with perfection. That's why it was so astonishing when I decided to go to my hallway closet and retrieve a revolver that has never been used' (S01E01, 2004).

She says these words with a very calm tone of voice, almost as she was telling a story that ends with a happy end, or even as she was talking about somebody else. Does she think of her suicide as of a happy moment? What about her family? What about all these people she left behind? Why did she even do that? Why did no one predict it? Apparently suicidal thoughts are an 'involuntary thoughts' and people who want to take their lives away just want to stop hurting. This proves the point that Mary Alice did stop hurting and it seems that committing suicide dehumanised her and took away all her feelings.

This moment of suicide enables her to become the omniscient god-like narrator of the series, whose voiceover tells the story from Heaven. Mary's suicide thus makes her central to the main plot line of the first season of the show, since her fatal pulling of the trigger is precisely what triggers the dynamics of investigation and the show's gradual revelations about her past.

Listening to Mary Alice the viewer gets the impression of listening to a good old friend, which gives the feeling of authenticity of the series. She can be classified as a heterodiegetic, third person narrator, because she talks about her past, has no active position in the series and her voice starts and ends each episode.

This kind of narrative sets up an enigma, which incites the series and gives the viewer something to look forward to every week.

Sarah Kozloff (1988) has called the narrator who begins and ends the story a 'frame narrator'. She claims that frame narrators possess a greater degree of believability, also called 'authentication authority'- the ability to establish and verify the facts of the fictional world. At the end of each episode she sumarises it and helps to understand its message that people believe is true, sharing her worldly wisdom with the viewers:

we honour heroes for different reasons. Sometimes for their daring. Sometimes fort heir bravery. Sometimes for their goodness. But mostly we honour heroes because at one point or another we all dream of being rescued. Of course if the right hero doesn't come along, sometimes we just have to rescue ourselves (S01E17, 2004).

A perfect housewife leaves her family behind to lead us through the mysterious lives of the people of Wisteria Lane, but what her best friends, and at the same time the main protagonists of the story, want to know is why did she do it? Suspicions arise when four of Mary Alice's best friends: Susan (played by Teri Hatcher), Bree (played by Marcia Cross), Lynette (played by Felicity Huffman) and Gabrielle (played by Eva Longoria) find a note in her belongings: 'I know what you did, it makes me sick, I'm going to tell' (S01E01, 2004).

This opening to the series provided an effective entry into the unfolding narrative, setting up new enigmas week by week and encourages watching following episodes. The secret is revealed at the end of season one and after that the stories that she tells are not related with her family or herself. This is also the time when her son and husband move out from Wisteria Lane. All she does from this moment is commenting on her friends' problems, lies and affairs.

Surprisingly to all the living, she says something that no one would ever think about, which intensifies this enigma:

an odd thing happens when we die, our senses vanish: taste, touch, smell and sound become a distant memory, but our sight… oh our sight expands and we can suddenly see the world we've left behind so clearly. Of course, most of what's visible to the dead, could also be seen by the living, if they'd only taken time to look (S01E02, 2004).

This provides the character's way of explaining where her omniscience comes from. By saying this she also explains herself that all she has got left are memories, but what she gained is the limitless access to people's lives and thoughts.

Thanks to Mary Alice the dirty secrets, affairs, illnesses and financial problems of Wisteria Lane are made public. At the beginning of each episode the voice-over prologue introduces more and more complications to the narrative and new information about the characters in the series. For example in episode 2 of the first series Mary Alice reveals Gabrielle's secret:

(…) like my friend Gabrielle. I should have seen how unhappy she was, but I didn't. I only saw her clothes from Paris and her platinum jewellery, and her brand new diamond watch. If I looked closer, I would have seen Gabrielle was a drowning woman, desperately in search of a life raft. Luckily for her, she found one. Of course Gabrielle only saw her young gardener as a way to infuse her life with little excitement. But now she was about to discover just how exciting her life could get (2004).

Following this statement Mary Alice proceeds to showing Gabrielle's husband getting out of his car while she is having a bath with her lover. Narrator's prologue functions as the time to reveal her friends' dirty secrets and also to show who they really are 'behind the closed doors'.

Another example could be episode 15 of the first series where Mary Alice shows Bree finding a condom in the laundry basket:

Bree Van De Kamp believed in old-fashioned values, such as respect for God, the importance of family and love of country. In fact Bree believed so strongly in her values, it was always a shock whenever she was confronted with those who didn't' (2004).

Mary Alice knew her friend so well that she instantly knew what Bree's reaction would be- to find out if her husband is cheating or if one of her children has pre-marital sex. She predicts characters' actions, knows the resolution to their problems, but waits with the reveal and gives hints of what is going to happen next.

At the end of every episode Mary Alice's voice-over summarises the events, which she has unfolded with an epilogue and teases the viewer with what is going to happen next:

(…) yes, each new day in suburbia brings with it a new set of lies, the worst are the ones we tell ourselves before we fall asleep. We whisper them in the dark, telling ourselves we are happy or that he is happy, that we can change or that he will change his mind. We persuade ourselves we can live with our sins or that we can live without him. Yes, each night before we fall asleep we lie to ourselves in a desperate, desperate hope that come morning it will all be true (S01E15, 2004).

Suburban areas used to be portrayed as idyllic places, where people grew up in their communities, raised their kids and everyone was extremely nice to each other. With Mary Alice's words the impression that the viewer gets is that the association of this idyllic place has been turned upside down. It seems that there are lots of lies and secrets that it 'holds', which makes it an example of juxtaposition for the truth about the series, she explains: 'Suburbia is a battleground, an arena for all forms of domestic combat' (S01E06, 2004). Another example of this kind is shown in episode 2 of the second series, where Mary Alice says:

beautiful lawns. Spacious homes. Happy families. These are the hallmarks of suburbia. But if you look beneath the veneer of gracious living, you will see a battle raging. A battle for control. You see the combatants everywhere, engaged in their routine skirmishes fighting fiercely to have dominion over the world around them (2005).

The way that suburbia is presented in Desperate Housewives denies being 'a sacred domestic space of mutual trust and affection, altruistic care, peaceful innocence, religious inspiration, security from outside interference, and all-encompassing virtue' (Hebel, 2005:187).

What is striking about this statement is that the narrator of the series is presented as authoritative, truthful and realistic, while people living on Wisteria Lane and the idea of the place itself are illusive. Everyone attends Mary Alice's funeral, which either proves a strong relationship between neighbours or is a gesture of politeness in the community. Everyone seeks scandal in modern world, there are no perfect places mentioned by Hebel (2005:187), they varnished the moment the first crime was committed and the truth hidden:

(…) yes, everyone loves a scandal, no matter how big or small. After all, what could be more entertaining than watching the downfall of the high and mighty. What could be more amusing than the public exposure of hypocritical sinners. Yes, everyone loves a scandal, and if for some reason you're not enjoying the latest one, well, the next one is always around the corner (Mary Alice, S01E16, 2005).

Mary Alice is initially portrayed by her friends- the main protagonists- as the nicest person they have ever met. At the wake, Bree, Lynette, Gabrielle and Susan gather at a dining table, stare briefly at the chair that Mary Alice used to sit on and start pondering about their friend's life. They cannot believe that someone so happy could have done something so terrible. Gabrielle reflects: 'what kind of problems could she have had? She was healthy, had a great home, a nice family. If Mary Alice was having some sort of crisis, we would have known, she lives fifty feet away for God's sake' (S01E01).

There are many situations throughout the series when Mary Alice's apparent narrative omnipresence and omnipotence are demonstrated. When she says that 'to understand Maisy Gibbons (played by Sharon Lawrence), you first need to know how she spends her afternoons' (S01E10, 2004) and then proceeds to show the viewers how Maisy does her husband's laundry, helps her children with their homework and works as a prostitute in the afternoons when her family is not at home. It is a shocking juxtaposition to the way that her neighbours see her: as a perfect mother and an exemplary housewife. The interesting fact here is that Maisy is not a main character in the series and here almost the whole episode is dedicated to her.

The narrator's voice is always very calm, the viewer is never able to notice any emotions driving her. She speaks with a lot of confidence and authority because she is aware of the fact that she knows everything and everyone.

Sometimes she gives the viewer the impression of interacting with other characters. When her friends gather to pack up her belongings and Gabrielle notices that all Mary Alice's clothes were size 8, not size 6 like she had been telling everyone, she drops a comment: 'Guess we found a skeleton in her closet' (S01E01, 2004), Mary Alice responds: 'Not quite Gabrielle, not quite' (S01E01, 2004), which insinuates that even darker secrets are to be revealed in the future.

Mary Alice seems to be enjoying her power and knowledge. She knows in what emotional state her friends are, e.g. when Edie Britt (played by Nicollette Sheridan) decided to ask Mike Delfino (played by James Denton) out on a date despite the fact that she knew that Susan was interested, Mar

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