Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, June 19, 2009

I get irrationally annoyed by...:

People who claim that "I Dream of Jeannie" is more sexist/less feminist than "Bewitched."

I mean, granted, neither show is particularly enlightened. But I've always liked IDoJ much better. She might CALL him Master, but she pretty much does her own thing anyway, and doesn't let him get away with being mean to her.

Also, Major Nelson never wanted Jeanie to stop being a genie. He just wanted to keep his damn career.



  • At June 19, 2009 1:42 AM, Blogger Frank Lee Delano said…

    I could never get into Bewitched. It reeked of outdated nuclear domesticity even in the '60s. No wonder it didn't fly in the '00s. Meanwhile, I always enjoyed Jeannie, even if it was a repetitive I Love Lucy update/knock-off.

  • At June 19, 2009 9:39 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    I completely disagree, and at the risk of annoying you, I think you are mixing up the characters with the shows.

    I completely agree with you that Jeannie (and Major Nelson) are more feminist characters than Samantha (and Darren).

    But, generally, Jeannie used her magic to get out of jams that she made for herself. Samantha used her magic to get out of jams that Darren (or her mother) made. Sam is the housewife with the sexist husband, but the audience sees that SHE'S really the smart one.

    So the "moral" of IDoJ is "don't even try, woman, because you are just going to screw it up." The method of reaching that moral is through showing Jeannie doing her own thing -- which madcap and zany results. In Bewitched, it is the opposite, where the audience is left thinking "Why isn't Samantha running things instead of these idiot, sexist men?"

  • At June 19, 2009 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG, this is something I've been telling people for YEARS--since my brother and I used to watch late-night TV together and quickly gave up on Bewitched because it was so damn sexist! Stick any word where "witch" goes and it's so obvious! "Darren doesn't want Samantha to act (like a) ____."

    Major Nelson, on the other hand, always wanted Jeannie to grow as a person (and as a woman, etc). That's so awesome. <3

    Ragtime, what you're leaving out of the equation is the fact that both characters are aliens, for lack of a better term. I never grew up thinking Jeannie was making mistakes because she was a woman, but because she was a product of another culture. (See also: Balki from Perfect Strangers.) Samantha pushed herself to fit into her husband's culture because that's what he wanted--sigh--and could do it because she'd had more experience with it beforehand. Jeannie had none--she was trapped in the bottle as American culture began and grew. Samantha basically lived parallel to it. That's why she was able to adjust so well.

    Obviously, my brother and I gave this a lot of thought. :D

  • At June 19, 2009 11:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Ragtime: I have to disagree with you right back at you. :-)

    Jeannie might have used her powers to get herself out of messes that she caused, but she also had the capacity and freedom to make those choices to begin with.

    The fact that Samantha spent all her time cleaning up messes either caused by Darren, Endora, et al, might mean she's smarter, but it still leaves her a woman cleaning up the messes of everyone around her and underappreciated during it.

    Feminism isn't restricted only to women with intelligence and competence. Freedom, choice and respect are the big things.

    Besides, Jeannie was goofy sure, but most of her mix-ups had to do with a lack of familiarity with modern/human life and culture. She was contrasted with characters like Major Healey, who while theoretically not an idiot (as he was an astronaut) but he got himself/Tony/Jeannie into almost as many messes as Jeannie herself did, without the excuse of spending some thousands of years in a bottle.

    I also disagree on your interpretation of the morals. If the moral really was "don't even try" then how does that explain that Jeannie ended the tv-series with exactly what she wanted: the husband she loved, the life she wanted, and the freedom to continue to exercise her magic as she saw fit?

    She tried, she screwed up, and she WON.

    Whereas the moral of Bewitched might be "Samantha should be running things." but there's a second half to that statement "But she isn't."

  • At June 19, 2009 12:03 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Bookslide: I agree totally with the Balki and Jeannie comparison! I was trying to think of a good one and failed miserably!

    To be fair, in the first episode of Bewitched, it clearly states that Samantha herself, for whatever reason, wanted to live a "human" life. So it's not entirely Darren at fault.

    He's still an utter jackass about it though.

  • At June 19, 2009 3:52 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Feh. I was watching the Addams Family. Mortica RULED!

  • At June 20, 2009 3:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Even as a kid, I always felt that Endora was right, Samantha was too good for Darren, and anything that happened to that intolerant so-and-so was all right with me!

  • At June 20, 2009 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As always, we should be looking to the time period to give us a frame of reference--what were these shows saying about the "place" of women at the time? Also, both shows used the actress-as-"bad twin" (although it was Samantha's cousin and Jeannie's sister, or was that vice-versa?). I remember Serena was a disco-a-go-go girl, basically, and Samantha was supposed to be seen as The Good One...because she stayed at home and kept her husband happy and blah blah blah. Jeannie's twin, on the other hand, is basically there to Steal Her Man (if Wikipedia and I remember correctly), and Jeannie is rewarded only for being herself, not necessarily because she's so Good in comparison.

  • At June 20, 2009 11:10 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Gotta side with Kalinara on this one.

    Sure, Samantha was more competent than Jeanie, hands down.

    But in terms of the freedom each women had, let's compare, shall we?

    Samantha: Forbidden by her husband to use her natural-born witch abilities, even in private, except to save their asses. Stuck cooking and cleaning around the house without the use of said abilities.

    Jeanie: Other than being instructed by Major Nelson to avoid exposure, particularly to Dr. Bellows, generally got to do whatever the hell she wanted. And whenever Major Nelson pissed her off, she blinked his ass into a desk drawer or a birdcage.

    Which show was more feminist? Not even a contest.

  • At June 25, 2009 12:51 PM, Anonymous Rich said…

    "Feh. I was watching the Addams Family. Mortica RULED!"

    Seconded. Wednesday is also a fine role model for young women, IMHO.

  • At June 26, 2009 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would like to add that Samantha chose her life. She chose to wait until after marrying Darren to tell him she was a witch, and she chose to stay with him after finding out he was not truly okay with her being a witch. She chose to completely ignore her mother's advice/concerns (granted, they weren't phrased very well to start) about the situation. And if I remember correctly, it was her mother who even put the thought into Sam's head that Darren should know.

    Sam was banking on Darren's love for who he thought she was to be enough for him to forgive her for hiding her true self and stay with her anyway. Darren definitely represses Samantha's magic, but he was also shafted into a marriage with a woman he wasn't expecting.

    Sam seems more conniving and self-serving than smart.

  • At August 20, 2009 6:52 PM, Blogger walker walkin alone said…

    Oh, I searched google just to find this out.
    And I love seeing Darrin transformed in to a toad or a monkey.
    Though I do not know a thing about 60s American culture, it appears to me as Samantha is shown to be an example of sacrifice that woman should make to adjust, and when married to a talentless idiot, should hide her talents, and use it when he is in trouble.

    The entire show is sexist, except Endora, and I love her. And, she is shown to be a single (divorced?) witch. Now, thats what happen to people who like independece, you see?
    Thanks again.

  • At February 25, 2011 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    DARRIN: You know, I have been thinking. And I've come to a conclusion: I've been selfish, stupid, and unreasonable. And I want to ask your forgiveness.
    SAM: I don't know what you're talking about.
    DARRIN: Well, when we were married, you tried to fit your way into my scheme of life.
    SAM: I love you- I want you to be happy.
    DARRIN: But what did I want? I wanted you to give up everything that was natural to you- I said "No more witchcraft, give it up", that's what I said. Isn't that what I said?
    SAM: Yes. But I understand.
    DARRIN: That's because you kept an open mind. But not me. No. My mind was closed, just like a clamshell.

    DARRIN: Why have I said to you, "No witchcraft! Don't help me. Don't help yourself. Why? I ask you why. Well, I'll tell you why: it was ego. If I couldn't do it, I didn't want you to do it. If I couldn't give something to you, I didn't want you to have it. Ego. Pure ego. Simple as that."


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