Saturday, 16 April 2005

lounge critic 2005 launch: desperate housewives: ladies who lunch

ACMI will launch its popular Lounge Critic 2005 series on May 5 with Desperate Housewives: Ladies Who Lunch, a special event dedicated to one of this year's most meteoric and unexpected television smash hits.

Join Dr Sue Gillett (La Trobe University) as she explores - through screened excerpts and discussion - the phenomenon of Desperate Housewives, the ever changing and dynamic roles women have played in television mythology, and debates the question: How do the women of Wisteria Lane measure up to the femme fatales of yesteryear?

Following the lecture, join us for drinks to celebrate Lounge Critic's first session for the year.

With its sudsy sex scenes, vamped-up suburban storylines and witty double-entendre laden dialogue, Desperate Housewives has blitzed the highly valued 'upscale' market, becoming one of those rare-as-hen's teeth phenomena: 'appointment television'. Not bad for a show whose pilot script was turned down by almost every major network including CBS, Fox, NBC, HBO, Showtime and Lifetime (a well-trodden path experienced by other edgy, innovative TV hits such as The Sopranos and Survivor).

'Desperate Housewives is everything you've heard - racy, funny, smart and sexy,' enthused Newsweek in November last year. 'It is also something of a miracle. Not just because, with almost 25 million viewers every week, it hit the top five faster than any new drama since ER in 1994. Housewives is what network television isn't supposed to be. It's a soap opera in an era when procedural shows like CSI and its clones rule.Most amazingly, it's a show about housewives - in their 40s!'

Desperate Housewives paints an urbane picture of the American family dream that like a hall of mirrors reflects not only the image we want to see, but also the dark secrets that we mistakenly believe we have kept hidden. From her unique vantage point beyond the grave, Mary Alice Young sees more now than she ever did alive, and she's planning to share all the delicious secrets that hide behind every neighbour's closed door in this seemingly perfect American suburb.

Described by Disney president Robert Iger in USA Today as 'one of those megahits you dream about. They come along once in every 10 years,' Desperate Housewives has a rare appeal that hits almost every mark of its well-heeled demographic: both male and female; young and old; gay and straight, and (perhaps most astoundingly) both liberal and conservative / fundamentalist. 

'For different reasons, secular humanists and fundamentalists alike can revel in the foibles of idle, affluent housewives,' says The Nation's Richard Goldstein. 'The right can view the show's sexual politics - women competing for men, men struggling for dominance over their wives - as fidelity to the patriarchal code, while lefties can see the same thing as camp. What's more, a babe is a babe, a hunk is a hunk, and the joys of watching their unseemly meeting cross party lines. A generation ago, the prime-time mantra was "Who shot J.R.?" Now it's "Why did Mary Alice Young kill herself?"'

Dr Sue Gillett is a senior lecturer at La Trobe University, specialising in contemporary women's literature, Australian culture, literature and film, feminist literary and film criticism.

Now in its third year, ACMI's Lounge Critic events take the television viewing experience and adds to it a splash of critical context and social analysis. Get off the couch and into ACMI!!

Further information

Danielle Poulos, Communications Coordinator, ACMI ph 03 8663 2415 m 0417 540 543

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