Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fringe: The Secretaries

Over 16 years have passed since the Five Lesbian Brothers (Maureen Angelos, Babs Davy, Dominique Dibbell, Peg Healey, and Lisa Kron) first presented the Secretaries. The role of women in the workplace has changed drastically. The position of secretary has pretty much vanished, with managers writing casual emails rather than dictating formal letters. In the 1950s, the brilliant Hillary Clinton would have had few options other than being a secretary; today she is Secretary of State. Because of these changes, in some ways the cheerfully vicious Secretaries is dated. However, in many other ways, its satire still hits hard as it plays with society's ideas of feminism, jealousy between women, predatory lesbians, non-thin females, and sex. Patty, the new secretary at Cooney Lumber, wants to fit in with her Slim Fast-quaffing, fashion-conscious, gossipy coworkers, all of whom near-worship their thin, elegant boss Susan. Patty manages to work her way into Susan's good graces (winning "employee of the month" after only a week on the job), and by the time she finds out that the women kill one of the lumberjacks each month, she is part of the gang, happily brandishing the bloody sawn-off arm of her own lover. Due to the talent and intelligence of the Five Lesbian Brothers--and the perfectly stylized acting of Virginia Baeta, Elizabeth A. Bell, Jamie Heinlein, Karen Stanion, and Elizabeth Whitney--watching female empowerment through violence is a fabulous way to spend time.

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