Variety programs have to be able to see the changes in the trend better than any other TV programs, in order to provide the “entertainment” that matches the public’s demand.
Nowadays, the equality and human rights seem to be one of the important issues in our society, including feminism, racism, and LGBT rights.
So, SBS came up with ‘Single Wife’
In this show, several wives go on individual trips to get away from the house work, while the husbands watch their wives on their trip and feel nothing but sorry.
The ultimate goal of <Single Wife> is to “free” the wives from their housework duties. It sends them on a trip to re-discover their true selves that they had lost after their marriage, when they became trapped in this cycle of looking out for their husbands and their children. Thus, it aims to destroy the patriarchy, where male figure dominates the household.
However, I think that the program was deceitfully designed in a way that it just re-created male supremacy, different from its traditional meaning. The patriarchy in ‘Single Wife’ is a system where the male figure still rules the household, but does not suppress. The irony is that the wives from <Single Wife> don’t get a single second away from their husbands, from the beginning to the end of their trip. In fact, the program even insists that the husbands become a coach to direct and guide their wives with their trips.
Husbands appear as the “watchdogs”
The show invites the husbands to come into the studio and watch their wives on their trips. However, ‘monitoring’ itself implies authority, that the husbands are there “for purposes of control, surveillance.” In addition, the wives are well-aware that they will be watched, but are not aware what consequences their certain actions will bring. For example, Lee Kyung-Min, one of the wives from the show, is constantly worrying if she will appear as “too crazy.”
2. Husbands also act as “commenters”
In the show, the wives participate in numbers of interviews to talk about their feelings and thoughts that may occur during the trip. Sometimes, what they say during those interviews raise many questions among the husbands from the studio. What’s ironic is that the wives, who knew exactly what they meant by those comments, are not present in the studio to provide the answers. Instead, the husbands step up and interpret the comments in their own ways. This often resulted in the re-creation of their wives’ comments, but no one will ever know the actual meaning behind those comments, because the wives are not invited to elaborate on their thoughts.
3. The authority of husbands continues outside the studio
The husbands continue to control the wives outside the studio. First, the trip is only possible if the husband grants permission. As the program’s official description states, “the husbands allow the wives to go on a trip as a gift.” Second, the wives have to bring the suitcase with clothes and other things that their husbands packed for them. While I understand the program’s intentions, shouldn’t a person who is going on the trip pack their own things? For example, actor Lee Chun-Hee’s wife Jeon Hye-Jin end up taking fur boots to a tropical region, just because Lee Chun-Hee did not want his wife to show cleavage.
In conclusion, if there is one person who benefited from the show, it’s the husband, not the wife. By “allowing” their wives to go on a trip, they became a benevolent husband. By packing the suitcase for their wives, they became a considerate husband. They wake up in the morning, fight sleep, and see the wives off. However, in the process of this, they forget that they are one of the reasons why the wives needed this getaway.
By. Dasol Kim
Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates.