Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Working at Homemaking

Leave It to Beaver: Season Five  When I read this interesting tribute piece by Sally Friedman in the Philly Inquirer about the recent death of Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver, I could only think of the irony.  The show celebrated traditional family life, no argument there. June was the perfect 1950s mother on Leave It to Beaver. My own working mom loved the show and its reruns.
  June always looked beautiful, perfectly coifed and never frazzled, despite Beaver's shenanigans. She always had a real dinner ready on time. She never forgot a key ingredient. No frozen TV dinners in this house. I'm sure she never did laundry at 11 p.m. Or bought cupcakes from Acme for the bake sale. Yes, she was happy -- or at least portrayed that way.

  But that's just it. She was a fictional character. Billilngsley, herself, must have been the antithesis of Cleaver. Here was a woman who was squarely in the workforce as an actress portraying the stay-at-home life. Reality meets fiction. Barbara Billingsley was the working girl homemaker -- not unlike most modern-day women on the double shift.

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