Proposal Title

Reimagining Sitcom’s Unruly Woman: WandaVision and Kevin Can F**k Himself

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

Kathleen Rowe Karlyn’s (1995) ideological concept of the ‘unruly woman’ is a recurring thread in the domestic sitcom that, for Jane Feuer (2001), represents a critique of conventional notions of ‘proper’ behaviour for sitcom wives (and mothers). Yet, Faye Woods (2019) argues that it has become something of a ‘theoretical straitjacket’ that does not adequately address the complexities and alienation of millennial female protagonists in recent comedy drama, for which Rebecca Wanzo’s (2016) ‘precarious girl’ is a more apt descriptor.

Taking this as my starting point, this paper will reassess the value of the ‘unruly’ woman through an analysis of WandaVision (Disney+, 2021-) and Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC, 2021-), two series that not only play with the formal conventions of the domestic sitcom but also make visible its gendered dynamics in different ways. Focusing on the relationship between the unruly woman’s capacity to ‘disrupt’ or ‘rebel’ with what Patricia Mellencamp (1987) describes as the discursive ‘containment’ of the situation comedy, I will compare and contrast the characters of Wanda Maximoff (WandaVision) and Allison McRoberts (Kevin) to examine how the former uses the domestic family to contain her power while the latter seeks to realise hers by breaking free.

Bio

Lisa is Senior Lecturer in Television Studies at the University of Glasgow and her research interests include television, talent and gender both onscreen and behind-the-scenes. She has published on the television sitcom, business entertainment programmes, and film and TV policy and is the founder of Set Ready Safety, a digital training tool to transform safety in the screen industries.

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Jun 23rd, 10:00 AM Jun 23rd, 11:30 AM

Reimagining Sitcom’s Unruly Woman: WandaVision and Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kathleen Rowe Karlyn’s (1995) ideological concept of the ‘unruly woman’ is a recurring thread in the domestic sitcom that, for Jane Feuer (2001), represents a critique of conventional notions of ‘proper’ behaviour for sitcom wives (and mothers). Yet, Faye Woods (2019) argues that it has become something of a ‘theoretical straitjacket’ that does not adequately address the complexities and alienation of millennial female protagonists in recent comedy drama, for which Rebecca Wanzo’s (2016) ‘precarious girl’ is a more apt descriptor.

Taking this as my starting point, this paper will reassess the value of the ‘unruly’ woman through an analysis of WandaVision (Disney+, 2021-) and Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC, 2021-), two series that not only play with the formal conventions of the domestic sitcom but also make visible its gendered dynamics in different ways. Focusing on the relationship between the unruly woman’s capacity to ‘disrupt’ or ‘rebel’ with what Patricia Mellencamp (1987) describes as the discursive ‘containment’ of the situation comedy, I will compare and contrast the characters of Wanda Maximoff (WandaVision) and Allison McRoberts (Kevin) to examine how the former uses the domestic family to contain her power while the latter seeks to realise hers by breaking free.