Media Analysis Paper


Analysis of the “Desperate Housewives”

  • Women are the potential intended audience of “Desperate Housewives”. One can become aware of the target audience due to the following factors. First, it is clear from the title of the television show. The word “housewives” refers to domesticity and family life at its core. Meanwhile, the word “desperate” predicts the drama side of the show indicating desperation in such things as conflict, sex, and money. This kind of drama is traditionally more appealing to women. The female audience is also attracted by focusing on characters women wish to resemble and using them as role models. Besides, the series also targets men by the inclusion of attractive female heroines like Gabrielle or Edie. Thus, the show aims at attracting males equally with females containing characters appealing to both genders. The age group the series intends at ranges from teenagers to forty-year-olds; it is understood from the characters’ age in the show. The cast consists of two generations – adults and their teenage children. “Desperate Housewives” is not aimed at a particular race though the characters are mostly Caucasian; the only exception is Gabrielle who is a tanned Latin American. The show targets are middle, lower-middle, and skilled working class because these demographic groups are most likely to emphasize the characters.
  • There is a relationship between the plot of “Desperate Housewives” and accompanying commercials. The slogan of the show was “Everybody has a little dirty laundry”. These words were printed on dry cleaning bags sold in the U.S. during the promotion campaign. Naturally, it was targeting women, as they are most likely to use dry cleaning bags. Therefore, this campaign indicated that the narrative would be dedicated to women and their dramas (“dirty laundry”).
  • The women who appear in the series differ from one another in their lifestyles and families. Bree Van de Kamp is a homemaker and sees homemaking as her destination in life. In contrast, Lynette Scavo is a careerist and a mother of four children. Meanwhile, Gabrielle Solis does not have any occupation and avoids childbirth; both of her daughters are unplanned. The protagonists are mainly Caucasians except for Gabriele, who is Latino. Besides, some of their neighbors in different seasons are black. Disabled women are not represented in the show. At the same time, Carlos Solis becomes temporally blind in the fourth season, and Orson Hodge becomes paralyzed in the sixth season. According to dominant cultural ideals of beauty, all women portrayed fall into the category of “beautiful”. There are no unattractive female characters in the show. All the heroines are slim, except for Gabrielle’s daughter Juanita.
  • The protagonists of the show perform the roles of wives, lovers, and mothers. As long as they are called “housewives”, they do not appear in the roles of workers often. Throughout the series, they take on some jobs but quit them due to different reasons. Lynette is a professional in the advertisement field. Susan has an artistic education, she changes several art-related jobs. However, she looks for different part-time job options. Bree is a homemaker and does not work. Gabrielle is an ex-model; she is used to a rich life with no effort, and she does not work. Men appear to be the breadwinners in their families. As their wives do not work, they dedicate most of their time to children (like Lynette), cooking (like Bree), shopping, beauty salons (like Gabrielle), and gossiping (like Susan).

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  • Men’s level of education varies in the above-mentioned TV show. Bree’s husband is a doctor, while Tom and Carlos are involved in the business. Mike is a plumber; so, he probably did not graduate from any higher educational institution. Women also have different levels of education in the show. Lynette has the best education as she graduated from Northwestern University. Susan had graduated from community college with a degree in art. Bree graduated from Lake Forest College. Gabrielle grew up in a poor family and had no education prospects; luckily, she made a career in modeling. She appears to be the only character that is of the working class. She does not perpetuate stereotypes about race, because the majority of Latin Americans are not as rich as she is. Instead, Gabrielle may serve as a role model for Latin American women.
  • Actresses who played in the show became in great demand for the advertisement companies after the series release. Marcia Cross advertised Mott’s apple juice; this campaign repeated the desire of the show’s characters for sharing secrets. In that commercial, Marcia Cross was saying, “I want to let you in on a delicious secret...” (Elliot, 2009). That commercial was the only one linked to the series. Nicolette Sheridan participated in 7-Up and Di Modolo jewelry campaigns. Eva Longoria appeared in Pepsi and L’Oreal commercials. Teri Hatcher was seen in the commercials of Variety. In the latter ones, the actress was wearing nothing but the Hollywood trade paper. Mostly, these women speculate about their sexual appeal in commercials. This confirms that in public representations of gender, men do the looking, and women are there to be looked at. Unfortunately, society keeps on perceiving women as sexual objects. As a result, the feminist movement has hardly influenced the representation of women in the media over the last three decades.

Internet Ad Analysis

In 2010, Megan Fox was chosen as the face of Armani. The same year, the Italian design house released the ad campaign for their underwear range. According to the plot of the video ad, the story begins when Megan Fox opens a hotel door to a room service waiter. By a strange quirk of fate, she is almost naked. To be more precise, she is dressed in her Armani underwear and a robe. While the room service waiter is preparing to serve the meal, Megan Fox slowly gets dressed. The video ad ends with her giving tips to the waiter, but he refuses because he is satisfied with what he saw.

The intended audience of this Internet ad is females of the upper class. These are women who are expected to purchase Armani products and can afford them. Megan Fox is showed as a desirable woman who is attractive to men because she is wearing Armani underwear and jeans. According to this analogy, women should deduce that buying this particular brand would guarantee men’s attention and attraction. That is why women constitute the primary target audience of this video ad. It seems that the ad is trying to sell more than just clothes; it sells the idea of a woman. That ideal implies being young, white-skinned, and thin to be attractive to men. Apart from that, the ad suggests the idea that women should use their sexuality to influence men. After all, Megan Fox did not have to pay for service due to having a strong sexual appeal. It leads one to the conclusion that being sexy is beneficial and often promises some reward.

The ad is promoting its main ideas with the help of the character of the waiter. It is worth noticing that the waiter is far from behaving like a macho in this advertisement. He is rather modest and does not do anything to assault or harass the woman. Still, he is looking at the woman character with lust. It may seem strange, but she does not try to hide her body. When she opens the door to the waiter, she does not cover her almost naked torso. Instead, the woman lets him scrutinize her underwear and seems to be contented with it. As Megan Fox dresses, she seemingly notices that the waiter is peeping, but again, she does not hide; what is more, she looks back. She behaves as if there is nothing to be ashamed of, and her body deserves to be seen. To add even more, the woman’s body is depicted in the central position of the frame in this Internet ad. The way the camera works does not leave the audience the choice, and the body immediately grabs one’s attention. Therefore, this advertisement emphasizes women’s sexuality and promotes sexual appeal. It makes women’s physique the object to be looked at rather than be their own subject. Hence, it is one of the vivid examples of dehumanizing women in the advertisement industry.

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