What Women Watched: Daytime Television in the 1950s

What Women Watched: Daytime Television in the 1950s

What Women Watched: Daytime Television in the 1950s

What Women Watched: Daytime Television in the 1950s

Excerpt

The rise of daytime television in the United States coincided with a monumental period in American culture that reshaped the image of the ideal woman. As the country's new iridescent screen began flickering to life during the day and a nascent industry searched for ways to entice women to their sets before dinnertime, broadcasters beamed home hesitant answers to the question, What is the nature of this new femininity? Throughout the 1950s, the simulated realm of daytime broadcasting continued to inquire, Who is this new woman, and what is her place in postwar America?

The industry's quest for daytime viewers within the private world of the home also confronted the homemaker's uneasy relation to television and its promise of leisure. This book explores the modes and genres of early daytime television that encouraged women to incorporate the small screen into their daily lives and does so within the framework of gender studies. Its purpose is to contemplate the ways in which contested representations of postwar womanhood, broadcast on television in a variety of genres, mediated the home viewer's earliest bond with the new medium.

In 1948, 94.2 percent of homes owned a radio, while television ownership that year stood at a bare 0.4 percent, accounting for only 172,000 households. At the dawn of television, viewers often congregated in . . .

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