For this assignment, I chose to base my piece off a small section of the opening act for season one of Skins. It takes place in the family h
ousehold, where there is a mother washing up and a daughter eating. We later find that a son and a husband are living there also, giving in to the idea of a conventional nuclear family, the classic set up that we see on commercials and shows just like this – a happy family complete with a married heterosexual couple and 2.5 children.
The camera is focused on the mother washing the dishes to begin with, who is in her pyjamas. She is wearing quite soft, friendly colours, with the pink and pastel blue sticking to stereotypes of “female” colours. She is also wearing a muted grey colour over the top, which may signify that she is quite a neutral character.
From behind, the son enters the scene, wearing a black top and khaki trousers, which are typical male, teenage colours and clothes, which reinforces the stereotypes that continue to flourish throughout the scene. He doesn’t acknowledge her, due to the fact that she is the one cleaning up after everyone in a sight that is obviously not too unusual.
The mother talks to her son, and then he goes to talk to her also, towering over her. Naturally, due to basic factors including his gender and age, he is a lot taller than her. This is to be expected, however, this kind of pose shows him above her looking down, which may appear to be slightly demeaning, especially when you consider the roles associated with both genders, i.e., the man being in charge and the woman being more of a subordinate to him. He does bend his neck a little, which is a lot more friendly than if he were to be straight-backed with his chest forward – the ultimate example of power and confidence. This may be denoting the idea of respect, especially when you consider the relations between the two people.
The son then goes to sit down at the breakfast table whilst he waits for his mother to serve him food, which would be expected from a woman in the kitchen with this kind of housewife role. Both of the children are ready for school, which suggests that perhaps the mother is getting ready for work. When her husband comes in, however, getting ready for work, we begin to assume that she is a housewife. This would be an example of a classic structure where the male is the breadwinner and the woman is the housewife, who does all the cooking, cleaning and taking care of children. These may be considered old-fashioned roles for the couple to partake in, and may even be considered a bit sexist in modern times, due to the factors involved with what they do. For example, whilst the husband is out working, doing “masculine” things and earning money to care for the family, the wife is running around, taking care of the house itself and not earning any money for herself. Then maybe in the evening the man would expect her to dress up and get ready for a dinner out, showing her off as something to please and attract him.
These fit into the ideas that a woman is more fragile than a man, and more emotional, caring and soft – someone who needs to be looked after by a husband and taken care of. These kind of roles are commonly expressed in television shows even today, despite the fact that it may not be an accurate portrayal of what life itself is like now in these households.
Later, the husband walks in, half naked and wearing red
boxers, a colour typically associated with power. He isn’t fully dressed, but
doesn’t seem at all self-conscious about it, as he storms into the room like he is the man of the house”. Due to the way that he appears and his attitude – i.e. complete confidence around these people who have all fitted into their stereotypical roles nicely – you immediately assume that he is the person in the family with the most power. Age and gender would typically have a lot to do with this. Race may also be a factor here, as all of the characters are white. This, and the setting would make you assume that these people are all middle class citizens, who can afford the simple luxuries in life. Perhaps it would be suggest something different if they each held a different skin colour.
The husband is getting ready for work so that he can earn money to supply for his family, which again denotes the idea that he is the most important person in the house, and so he leaves after only briefly acknowledging everyone. This whole attitude would suggest that he is surrounded by people who are basically subordinates, not people who are treated with equal power and responsibility.
To conclude, this small scene is an example of television roles that we are adjusted to seeing day after day. It signifies the idea that women are less equal, worthy and able, to men, and that males are typically the breadwinners in a family. It isn’t too bad of a scene, considering all the music videos and commercials that we see that are relatively degrading, although it shows said roles on a more casual, comfortable level that most people would be suited to and adjusted to watching.
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