Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Defining "The Good Life"

Classic TV shows continue to please. Take a look at the popularity of TV Land and its TV Land Awards. We're especially drawn to the 1960s as evidenced by the popularity of Mad Men. TV Land too runs 1960s/1970s shows. The shows they include reinforce a skewed view of "The Good Life."

How was "The Good Life" defined in the 1950s and 1960s? Television shows and advertising clue us in. TV Land airs popular 1960s/1970s television series. Those they're currently airing feature women as homemakers (Bewitched, Leave it to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show); shows from that period where women follow their dreams are absent (Laverne and Shirley, Rhoda, That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show). The visual for The Good Life from this sampling of shows was a middle-class family of three (or four) where the man worked while the woman kept the house clean, cared for the children, and prepared wholesome meals.
Advertising pamphlets from the 1960s had similar messages for women: "Easy Ways to be a Spectacular Cook," "Royal Success in Baking," "Fast, Fun, & Fancy," "Cooking with a Surprising Difference," and "Praise for the Cook."
Utilities even helped their female customers achieve "The Good Life:" "This book has been planned and written especially for you--the homemaker whose first interest is in her family, who loves to please her husband and children, whose heart grows warm when they like what she cooks." (To see some of these 1960s marketing materials, check out my 1960s Cook books board on Pinterest.)
Early in my career (remember I work in high-tech, a primarily male-dominated industry), I was told not to bring in baked goods to share with my co-workers. It was ok for the men to share goodies their wives made, but not ok for me. The reasoning? I wouldn't be taken seriously. To me, this was a very 1960s view of "The Good Life." Men went to work and came home to be greeted by their smiling wives with dinner fresh from the oven set out on the table waiting for them. Sadly, I hid my culinary passion and prowess from coworkers until I became a manager--after I had "proven" myself.
Here's my current, working definition of "The Good Life:" The sequence of physical and mental experiences meeting a high standard that make up the existence of an individual. This means excelling at my marketing job, sharing meals cooked by my husband or me or ordered in from local restaurants, caring for our daughter together, and welcoming family and friends into a home we've made (and cleaned) together.
What's your definition of "The Good Life"?
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.