Queer/Race

The Unwed Manicurist

Posted in Uncategorized by extremedancer14 on April 9, 2010

We have just recently finished reading “Marriage” by Stephanie Coontz. I personally feel as if the book touches on some very interesting issues as far as marriage history is concerned (in particular, how women have been able to freely chose when to marry and their reasons for doing so). A few nights ago, as I was surfing the television for something interesting to fall asleep to, I cam across an episode of The Andy Griffith Show entitled “The Manicurist”. The back story: A young woman, perhaps in her early 20’s, beautiful and well-in-doubt (as you can tell from the video posted) ends up in the town of Mayberry in search of a quiet “friendly town” in which to do nails. Ironically, she works in a male barber shop, taking male customer only. The wives of the manicurist’s male customers are extremely jealous of her good looks and insist that their husbands not return to the voluptuous beautician.

Afterwards, Andy tells the young woman that many of the wives in town would feel much more comfortable if she were to marry. Their would be less stress and angst on the married women if the young girl would simply settle down and take on the roll of a wife. This episode captured my interest in that it speaks highly to the time in which this situation is taking place (late 50’s). The idea of marriage was thought as mandatory and considered the socially acceptable thing to do. The point Andy seems to be making here is that women who marry tend to be happier and more socially compatible with others of the same sex. Earlier in the episode, the young single woman mentions that she needed some time away from a current lover affair to find herself. When she mentions this to others, they frown upon her and her choice to leave such a “suitable” situation. This further supports the idea that marriage at this time was beneficial for a woman’s well being. Despite taking the option not to marry right away, she is still heavily persuaded by others in Mayberry that it is an essential part of her life. An interesting blast from the past and marriage ideologies.

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  1. iTerp said, on April 9, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    This is so ironic that you happened to post this! For my final project, I’m comparing marriage roles and expectations between couples from the 1950s and today. The text that we read in class sparked my interest in the subject and it’s really awesome that you were able to draw on our coursework and apply it to pop culture outside, even if it’s over 50 years old!
    It’s so ridiculous to see something like this because it’s so incredibly counter to what we see and expect from relationships today. If anything, I think there would be a big uproar if the situation was the complete counter!
    I never really liked the Andy Griffith show, I think it had something to do with the theme song, but it offers an interesting perspective on relationships at the time period. It’s interesting to look at this Nick at Nite TV show as a historical/ancient artifact. Crazy!
    Thanks for posting this!


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