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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Desperate Housewives Gets Pregnancy Discrimination Wrong

I must admit that Desperate Housewives is one of my guilty pleasures. Yes, I know it's silly. Mostly, it cracks me up. But something's been bugging me this season, and I can't sit quietly by any longer. It's this: they seem to think pregnant women should disclose their pregnancies before accepting a promotion, and if they don't, they owe an apology and deserve to be fired.

If you don't follow DH, here's what's going on. Lynette, mother of about a zillion kids already, is pregnant with twins. Insert comment here about birth control. Lynette was a high-powered advertising executive before she went out on the mommy track. When the kids grew up, she got a great job with Carlos's company. Carlos is Gabby's husband. Gabby is a good friend who lives across the street. Following so far?

When Lynette gets pregnant, she doesn't announce it right away. As most women do, she waits to make sure things are okay in the first trimester. Carlos comes into her office and announces that she's getting a big promotion. Not only that, but that she's getting it because the woman who should have gotten it is pregnant, and therefore he won't give it to her.

Right there, I hoped Lynette would go to HR and report the jerk, but she did what most of us would do. She accepted the promotion and hid her pregnancy as long as she could. She did a great job. Then Gabby found out.

Instead of the writers having Gabby swat Carlos upside the head for refusing to promote a pregnant woman in the first place, Gabby tells Carlos and tells him to fire Lynette. The writers missed a great opportunity to show a woman standing up to a sexist pig husband.

The lawyers for the company told Carlos to offer Lynette a promotion far, far away. That was genius. Real employers do this type of thing. It was way better than just having him fire her. I held out some hope that they might get things write.

Then they went completely off the deep end.

When Lynette turned down the promotion, Carlos stripped her of her duties and put her in a closet. Lynette sued. Good for her, except she'd first have to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. Had the writers done this, they could have shown her watching Carlos squirm as he had to explain to Human Resources what he'd done.

Instead, the writers have me almost ready to stop watching. Because they have Gabby demanding that Lynette apologize. Lynette has come to the realization that she was all wrong. No! No! No! Lynette did what she should have done. Carlos should be fired. The jerk. And Gabby is no friend, demanding an apology for Lynette taking a promotion while pregnant.

DH has never been a bastion of feminist thought. But this time, they've crossed a line for me. I don't know if I can stand much more of them making pregnant working women feel like they have something to apologize for. If the writers had bothered to get the law on pregnancy discrimination right, their plot would be much more interesting.


kmfields said...

Desperate Housewives has gone off the deep end? Not possible. :-)

Hi Donna, it's Karl Fields, former Media Bistro classmate. I saw an article about Joss Whedon and it reminded me of you. How are you? Still writing?

Donna said...

Hi Karl. I'm still writing, although I've been on a bit of a hiatus lately. How about you? I hope all is well with you.

kmfields said...

Took a hiatus myself last September after we got hit by Hurricane Ike. Fair amount of damage to my house, plus I work in communications for the local power company so we were dealing with the aftermath for months. I didn't have any spare energy. Finally got back to writing in March of this year. I did a total rewrite on the story I was working on during Liesa's class and now I'm working on something else. Once I get this draft done, I'll go back to the first story and see if I can get it ready to submit.

Donna said...

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles from Ike. Wilma was the bane of our existence for awhile. Since I have family that works in a similar role here, I can certainly relate to having to deal with aftermath in that respect as well. I'm so glad you finally got back to writing. Good luck with your submissions!

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