I love a dance show and had been looking forward to the new TV musical Smash. The promos in the months leading up to the first episode were so promising: a young woman with an incredible talent gets discovered. It was basically Fame all over again, which I loved. But the promos post premiere are annoying me. “What will she sacrifice to follow her dream?” the voice over asks dramatically with images of her boyfriend waiting alone at a restaurant table. She just got a glimpse of her dream and a couple of episodes in it’s being challenged.
Why is the storyline always the same? Why can’t a young woman pursue her dream without throwing her relationship on a bonfire?
Men on the big and small screens do not seem to have to make the same choice. In fact, usually quite the opposite occurs. Successful men seem to have more than their fair share of relationships in TV shows, sometimes concurrently. How can a successful man juggle more than one relationship when career-focused women can’t manage one? We all know that women are the multi-tasking gender.
The message this sends to women is potentially damaging. We know that it’s challenging to have it all at the same time but surely we can have more than one thing at a time. It is possible to have a career and a relationship, just as it is possible to have a family and a career.
But if, as depicted in shows like Smash, a man will give up on a relationship with a women who needs to stay late at the office or dance studio, then I’m calling it in favour of women. The problem with that scenario is the men in it. Time to find more progressive men? The show will have redeemed itself for me if we see our talented star in a relationship with a man who is thrilled to be her equal, regardless of the hours she isn’t there for him.
Come on TV producers. Create programs that depict successful women enriching the lives of those around them because that’s what happens in real life.
Instead of asking what women will sacrifice for their dream, why don’t we ask: how will pursuing your dream enrich your relationships? My husband’s favourite saying is: happy wife, happy life. And I am at my happiest when doing something that I love.
Does the depiction of female success on TV concern you?