Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Weaker Sex?




Barbara Good's role in 'The Good Life' can sometimes seem a little passive. Intensely loyal to husband, Tom, she mostly lets him lead the way - it was his idea, after all, to jack in his job and live off the land. But Barbara's no pushover: she has a steely inner resolve which manifests itself in her unwavering support, hard work and stoic response to the gradual loss of all of the amenities and luxuries which made her life as a housewife and woman easier and nicer. It's easy to see that the housewife role wasn't enough for Barabara, she wanted, needed more - which is perhaps why she so readily got on board Tom's seemingly ridiculous self-sufficiency bus, rolling up her sleeves and digging up the garden with very little persuasion.



'Whatchootalkinabout, Tom?'
   

Five foot nothing of fury.
 In 'The Weaker Sex?', however, Barbara is pushed to the limit, and tries to escape their new life by briefly returning to hedonism, only to find that, actually, she prefers being dirty, tired but in control.

Her mini-revolution is prompted, of course, by Tom's selfish behaviour - he buys a rusty old range from a passing rag and bone man (he exchanges it for the toaster and Barbara's hair drier, which is where the division starts), then sets his wife the onerous, endless task of cleaning off the accumulated rust and gunk while he tits about in the garden trying to invent an effective bird scarer.



Tom tits about.
 

Margo rubs it in.
 

This scares me.
 
Margo throws another bundle on the smouldering flames of resentment by trying to give Barbara a cast off dress because it looks 'cheap and nasty' (Tom recycles the dress as part of a rather ineffective scarecrow with a terrifying face), but the last straw is when Barbara is scrubbing away and Tom is standing by and delivering one of his self-satisfied speeches, pontificating about robots and repetition and Margo and Jerry 'lolling around in their Swedish armchairs, sipping Martinis, vegetating in front of their colour telly': 'who'd swap for that?' he says, prompting the response 'I BLOODY WOULD!. To add insult to injury, he puts her outburst down to menstrual anxiety.



Dirty and angry. 
 

Suburban Cinders.
 
Barbara storms out to that oasis of middle class decadence, the Ledbetter's, only to find them engaged in a petty, bitter argument. She sits amongst them (on a magazine to protect the furniture) with a couple of drinks, looking rather like a pre-ball Cinderella, as they bicker and bitch and Jerry tries to look at her legs. When they start on Tom, Barbara can take no more, and walks out. Margo and Jerry hardly notice she's gone.

Back home, Tom has finished off the range and lit it, and everything seems worthwhile again in its warm glow. Right on cue, the rag and bone man returns with the ultimate bird scarer: a cat.


Kitten Kong.
 Just in case you thought that Barbara gives in too easily or that Tom gets off too lightly for his behaviour, he badly burns his hand on the searingly hot kettle direct from the range - just after a typically pompous and slightly patronising health and safety lecture about the importance of NOT burning your hand on a searingly hot kettle direct from the range. He keeps it from Barbara, but, in terms of karma, he's not whistling anymore.


Hot stuff.


'Language, Tomothy'.


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