In the episode, “Night of the Fire,” Casey Jones goes undercover as a “generic” female office worker to investigate a fire that occurred in the warehouse. “Decoy” is a black and white police show that first aired in 1957 that features “policewoman” Casey Jones. The opening introduction is narrated by a female’s voice compared to the typical “strong” voice of a man. During the first five minutes of the program, the stress that Jones is a “policewoman” not a “policeman” is very evident.
While Jones’ is working undercover, her female co-workers are secretaries and, as usual, her male colleagues are all in positions of authority. One of Jones’ female colleagues, Michelle, is supposedly mentally unstable and assumed to be the culprit of fire. Jones’ furthers her investigation by befriending Michelle and mixing “work and play.” Jones’ and Michelle are shown doing “girl things,” like shopping and attending an office party. Jones’ seems to be a fairly progressive woman: she drinks, smokes, dances, and goes to parties; in contrast to Donna Reed who is only shown as washing dishes, cooking dinner, and packing her children’s school lunch.
During the office party, Jones embraces her sexuality and entices Joe into a private room. Jones realizes that Joe is unable to drink alcohol because he’s diabetic, therefore proving his alibi is fabricated. Jones confirms Joe is guilty of starting the fire and verifies Michelle’s innocence. “Leave them with proof, not prejudice,” said Jones. Jones is the first female we have viewed this semester that is a smart working woman in a “man’s job” and sexually attractive. In close comparison, Betty in “Father Knows Best” was unable to pursue a career in engineering while still remaining a respected female.
Our second viewing was the 1960s television show “Hazel.” “Hazel” followed the life of Hazel Burke, an optimistic and friendly live-in maid for the Baxter family. Hazel’s self-described job title is “domestic engineer,” which relates to Rosalee’s coursework in “domestic science.” Hazel comments that men have it easier than women when she says, “Us ants[women] have got work to do but you grasshoppers[men] just go ahead and enjoy yourself.”
During the episode “Hazel’s Winning Personality,” Hazel and her friend attend a class about how to be well-liked and develop a “winning personality.” The class is made-up entirely of women and taught by a man, who presumably already has a wonderful personality. After the class, Hazel and her friend try out their new personalities by complimenting anyone who crosses their path. Hazel admires a woman’s hat and soon she is invited over to her home for lunch. She praises the beauty of her home, which ultimately causes Mrs. Baxter to lose an interior-decorating job. Mrs. Baxter is angered by Hazel’s “new found sweetness” and remarks, “try to keep the sugar in the sugar bowl.”
In the previous television shows we’ve watched, women have typically been depicted as kind and never angry. This is the second time we have seen a woman as “too nice.” For example, Donna Reed’s dinner guest suggested that she wouldn’t be mad even if her husband cheated on her. Donna Reed, like Hazel, adjusted her personality for a brief period until it eventually caused problems. Donna changed her personality from “sweet” to more demanding and Hazel amplified her own sweetness by increasing the number and frequency of compliments. In this episode the differences in gender communication become clear. The man who Hazel’s friend wants to date communicates in stereotypically male format by using simple remarks such as, “nah and yup.” On the other hand, Hazel’s friend communicates like a clichéd “chatty” female that often elaborates on irrelevant information.
Hazel’s compliments led to problems and Casey questions Joe’s authority and solves the crime. Casey Jones and Hazel are both single working women that do not seem concerned with acquiring husbands.