Po5 is a beloved show of mine. I appreciated it even more when its’ marvellously disgraced lame-o of a lead actor called it ‘written for women’ as a criticism.
Sneaky, sneaky rad-femmy anti-family messages (in a quintessential family show!) elevate it from warm &culty to masterpiece for me. There’s a surprising amount of under-handed PIV & unglossed over female realities of it hiding in plain sight % not hiding altogether.
You don”t need to have seen the show ~ batteries (*detailed recaps) are included in the analysis bundle.
CHARLIE @ DAUGHTER The grand whiner Charlie reproductively coerced a sweet, tragic and my favourite character – Daphne. This cheerful young lady was almost killed from neglect by her mama before she remembers herself. She strips as 1 of her odd jobs and gets pronged by Charlie sans condom via him pulling the sympathy card: he wanted to feel alive after cancer, you see. Asshat… Daphne is adamant at not continuing with the resulting knock-up. She explains that she won’t survive financially and she’s not mother material: neither strippers nor Disney princesses at kids parties are hired with bellies. To this Charlie pulls another sympathy card and talks her into having the kid and handing HIM over to Charlie to raise (he never considers a girl…) This is the moment that traps Daphne into a cascade of misery and near death. She agrees without asking for surrogacy compensation. Instead she moves in with Charlie to be a live in breeding cow. Late in the gestation they have a fall-out (caused by his hyper-control of ehr pregnant habits ‘for the baby’s sake’) and she leaves to crash on a musician’s couch. That dude is just as inhospitable as there is no place for an unowned life-creating woman in this dudely anti-life world. Daphne returns to her breeding pen with her tail between her legs since she has nowhere else to go. Things escalate from here [ Daphne gets put on bed rest, which she does her best to resist and defend her right to Life via not being a compliant baby vessel. Alas, Babydaddy & male DR. prevail. She gets diagnosed with a life-threatening “complication” (too mild a word) & Charlie supposedly has to choose between her & kids’ life. It’s a false choice cause they must immediately operate anyhow. Daphne & baby make it by a hair’s width \ she thanks him for not sacrificing her life as baby vessel!! She then gets put throught the ringer of compulsory breast-feeding. Here too she keeps asserting that she’s a Person_not a milk machine. Same follows with the coerced motherly duties which Charlie promised she would not have to do!! She learns how to do it all but she still finds motherting oppressive…. ………………….Here comes the singlest boldest TV choice ever>>>>>>Daphne choose to walk away! & not get treated as a harpie/monster/undutiful woman!!! Well, that sure as hell didn’t last. Turns out that Daphne actually had a mental hangover resulting from her other near death from neglect as a toddler, ~which she forgot\blocked out. Once she acknowledges this, she eventually comes back to co-parenting the girl. She faces money problems stemming from the child & her own free-spirited nature with an undestroyed female soul `not for lack of trying on phallocracy’s part. She momentarily returns to stripping before finding her girl a stepdaddy & riding off into an actual sunset on camera.. What’s ground-breaking about this whole story is that both the actress & the writers are in on the radical sneakiness. Actress plays her as a beaten down, but miraculously not broken female soul *who does her best to enjoy life from the scraps thrown to her by male systems. She never stops telling it like it is *ie. the Female Truth of reproductive & financial imprisonment. In the end she manages to find herself a wee bit more comfortable of a cell. The creators got away with this by making her a distant hippie variation & relying on the one of a kind| high brow status of the show. The series is the quintessential sleeper hit, which scraped by on its’ fervent female audience that wouldn’t quit in petioning to keep it alive. This under the radar niche let it get away with a miraculous amount of womans’ POV. The other ways: they cast a supremely likable actress bound to be brought back by popular demand + made a concession with a Prince Charming ending + coming around to enthusiastic motherhood.
They also lucked out with the timing: mid-90s were the last period when serious feminism was out in the open.
From start to finish, Daphnes bodily & whole autonomy is overriden. Charlie
<overrides her condom request
<overrides no breast-feeding
<overrides Daphne not raising girl despite that being the initial hook!
<overrides name choice
<overrides gradual descent into co-parenting
Institutional control of womens’ bodies helps him along way:
#Economic survival rigged against unzombified single women & even more so against those with engaged uteruses (Daphne can’t afford to end the pregnancy OR to keep going)
#Medical & social establishment places baby’s bodily autonomy over mother’s
#Socialisation entrapment in letting him go ahead without protection
#The much maligned by me Straight Propaganda TM involving her with Charlie
#Anatomical entrapment of heavy pregnancy (Daphne cant’ move to pick up phone when couch-surfing)