'Farmer Wants a Wife': Vintage in a Bad Way


The CW aired the season finale of Farmer Wants a Wife last night, and I still haven’t figured it out.

I’ve caught a couple of episodes over the last month or so, and each one had moments that made the feminist in me cringe, but then reeled it back in and provided a situational explanation. Or, more precisely, I was able to provide an explanation. Which, really, just leads me to believe that I have spent far too much time thinking about this show–so, actually, hey–good job, producers!

Farmer’s saving grace is how upfront everything about it is. It’s not called Farmer Wants to Fall In Love, or Farmer in Missouri is Lonely! Help! It’s called Farmer Wants a Wife.

And, if you’re on a competitive reality show about a farmer who wants a wife, well, you’re probably going to expect to do traditionally-defined “wifely” things. It just . . . rankles. And I think the show’s existence shows that the average television viewer has a different value set from mine; I was raised to value a career of my own, not to want a career as someone’s wife.

I do have to admit though that, practically speaking, if you live in a tight-knit community and everyone in town has a hand in everyone else’s livelihood, well, it makes sense to take into account your fellow townspeople’s opinions of your potential other half. And sending the last two remaining contestants out to run errands, calling them “wife things,” does make some sense when you realize that the farmer has to, well, farm. It’s his livelihood. If he brings the two contestants out into the field to help him work and they make a big mistake, it will affect his life. Although I don’t know exactly how much damage they could possibly have done, so clearly even I see the hole in my own argument.

The banner at the end that said “Farmer Takes A Wife” exemplifies the problems I have with the show, which is Farmer’s archaic tone. This program could have aired 40 years ago and no one would have questioned the women’s positions on it. It’s a throwback, but not in a good way.

And I think it’s pretty much cleared up the question of whether or not I would ever become a farmer’s wife.