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Episode: 5.15

Title: Hello, I Love You

Written by: Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess

Directed by: Michael Fresco

Aired: January 24, 1994

Log line: Shelly finally gives birth. Ruth-Anne and Walt are stranded overnight; Maggie and Joel become less competitive.

Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.

Having a baby is the ultimate union of the sexes: the female egg meets with the male sperm to create a whole new individual. So on the occasion of the birth of Shelly’s child in “Hello, I Love You,” it’s rather appropriate that the episode is filled with gendered ideas and images. However, these gender roles are far from straightforward; they get upturned in unexpected ways, and confirmed in other ways. Let’s take a look.

We have knitting, which is traditional pastime of women, but it is Joel that emerges as the star of the baby bootie knitting workshop, much to everyone’s surprise.

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Cutting firewood can be seen as a rather masculine pursuit, but it is Maggie that schools Joel in the art of using a chainsaw.

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Speaking of firewood, Walt and Ruth-Anne get into a fight about who’s going to go into the woods to get it.

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There’s lot’s of cooking, a traditional female role, and Holling is featured stuffing a large turkey (which is sort of reminiscent of handling a baby?).

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Of course, there are other scenes that conform to the stereotypical female roles, and all of them involve Shelly. Doing laundry:

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Little Miranda plays with Barbies, while Shelly suggests the doll wear “white stiletto boots.” However, it is interesting to note that the male doll is “Hollywood Hair Ken”!5-15-shelly-miranda01

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Shelly is thrilled to learn that the older Miranda is going to tryout for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. She is also concerned about her future self gaining weight.

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Nevertheless, the teenage Miranda bucks the feminine trend when we learn she plays the drums (it didn’t last though!). Interestingly, this Miranda is dressed the least traditionally feminine out of all of her incarnations.

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In this episode filled with clashes in gender roles, it’s interesting that two of the storylines deal with personal conflicts between men and women. Both Maggie and Joel and Ruth-Anne and Walt have a competitive relationship filled with bickering. They fight, get resentful, and are sometimes exasperated with each other. However, by the end of the episode, as the baby is born, both couples come to a peace and finally accept each other for who they are. They even leave room for a new beginning.

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Songs from the episode’s original airing:

  • John Michael Montgomery – “Kickin’ it Up” [Replaced in DVD version]
    Joel and Holling get ready for travel, while Shelly leaves for the laundromat.

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Themes / Recurrences: Family; men and women; gender roles.

The Good: We appreciated the emotional weight of this episode — from the birth of Miranda Bliss to the seeds of possible romantic relationships between Walt and Ruth-Anne (we loved their complimentary toasts over butter brickle ice cream) and Maggie and Joel.

The Bad: We both found it disappointing that Miranda Bliss’s future-casting storyline would end with her trying out to become a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. It seemed like a significant step back from her twelve-year-old, non-conformist, drummer-in-a-band self.

The Notable: Walt emerges as a central character, which is another highlight of the episode for us. Moultrie Patten is wonderful as Walt Kupfer, and we can’t wait to see more of him.

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On’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

Shane’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

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