American Woman Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Changes and the New Normal

The 1970s were not a walk in the park for working girls.

No, not those working girls, but the type we visited on American Woman Season 1 Episode 2. The regular women who may or may not have had college degrees and also varying degrees of experience in areas that mattered.

This installment also visited one of the Catch-22s of a Woman's World at Work, as well as some of the smaller indignities we've suffered over the decades.

Wacky Sex Life - American Woman Season 1 Episode 2

Before launching into the grievances of the working women, let's settle into Kathleen's inability to read pretty much any situation despite how darn cute (and rich) she is. 

Let's face it, neither Greg nor Cheyenne Jackson is what the typical American imagined the average homosexual male to be like during the '70s. He's a man through and through, and that has to be confusing for Kathleen.

She sees that hot man in front of her and can't understand why he isn't into her like every other red-blooded American male has been before him. Hell, she's from Texas! 

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What was the most disappointing was Greg's inability to even snuggle with Kathleen, meaning he's probably only using her for her money to get that business off the ground. After their chat about their rotten (or wacky) sex, it would have calmed Kathleen a lot if he'd allowed her to fall asleep in his arms or something.

Instead, they fell asleep with their backs to each other. Ugh. That's the worst. At least when Greg was getting horny thanks to their new venture together, he worked out his frustration on a ready and willing Kathleen. 

And how about that shopping expedition? 

Kathleen: [holding up a sparkly dress] What do you think?
Diana: Have you never been on a job interview before?
Kathleen: No.
Diana: Unless it involves tassels, it's probably not appropriate.

Kathleen has a heart of gold. She's willing to write a check for Bonnie's mortgage, but of course, that solves nothing. Bonnie might understand that someday if the market crashes and her money isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but until then, she'll remain unenlightened.

A tiny that-was-then/this-is-now moment played out after Kathleen picked up Jessica from school. Only those of you paying attention caught it.

I'm gonna drop you off at the house to do your homework.


Remember, there was no such thing as "helicopter parenting" or now "free-range parenting" back then. We really did hang out at the house after school if our mom went to the store for a short while. It was no big deal. 

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This is where I feel like I should sing a past tense of Gloria Gaynor, but that might be unfamiliar territory, so let's move on to Diana.

Diana loves the idea of work and feeling validated even if her job doesn't provide her with satisfaction nor validation. And this begins our segment on the Catch-22 of the WWW.

Gentleman's Agreement - American Woman Season 1 Episode 2

Diana wanted a job that was opening when a coworker was leaving. As a harder worker and with a lot more experience than bobble-bird Jeff who sits beside her, you'd think Diana would be a shoe-in for a promotion. Not so fast!!

Dennis: Look, here's the problem single gals like you never consider, Diana. You don't have a family to support. Jeff has a wife and two children.
Diana: And I take care of my mother, so I also have a family to support.

That's right. Men used to get raises so they could go home, pound their chests in front of their family and friends, and be served the food they worked so hard to put on the table by using gentleman's agreements, golfing, and going out for drinks at lunch and after work.

Meanwhile, Bonnie was learning something very different at the employment agency.

Interviewer: Don't mention your kids in an interviewer. A lot of people are nervous about hiring people with children.
Bonnie: They are?
Interviewer: They feel like your focus wouldn't be on the job or that you'd have leave work because one of your children would get sick.
Bonnie: Oh, don't worry. I don't allow my children to get sick.

But, wait, didn't Diana just discover across the city that having kids would get you promoted? Why would Bonnie having kids have the opposite effect? Oohhh. There it is. The Male/Female Catch-22 of the business world.

At the Employment Agency - American Woman

For the same issue, men shall rise, and women shall fall. As the family grows, daddy will advance within the company so he can continue pounding his chest while mommy will sink lower and possibly lose her job altogether because she has to take care of the kids.

Into the 1990s, that scenario began to change a bit. Single gals (what a phrase) finally got to earn probably 60/70 cents for every dollar men were making for the same job, but they were also expected to stay at the office while ALL people with children flitted off to little Johnny's and Jane's school activities.

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There's nothing like progress when you're not only lonely and childless but unable to spend your holiday with the friends you've gathered. Good times.

Luckily, for Bonnie, she's quite the looker and has nice legs. That would make her stand out from the secretarial pool -- as long as she doesn't hide them -- because her resume certainly won't do the trick!

That's deflating. Can you imagine being an unattractive person? What would the agency rep tell you then?

Flippin' Out - American Woman Season 1 Episode 2

As for Diana, she's probably already left at the office alone on holidays. 

Dennis: I left some contracts on my desk. Make sure you photocopy them before you leave.
Diana: [flips him the bird after he turns his back]

If that scene didn't stand out, it should have. That was showing how Dennis goes to Diana for all things. While Jeff and his bird are dunking their heads into water, Diana is outworking him at the job they share, and she's acting as Dennis' secretary, too. Yay.

A woman's work is never done whether you in the office or out. She probably has to make the office coffee, too.

Retail Experience - American Woman Season 1 Episode 2

Working at the May Co. may seem humiliating, but when you have two children and want to keep the house where they've grown, you have to do what you have to do. 

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I was proud of Bonnie for jumping on a bus and demanding a job for which she knows the side of the customer so well. The selling point of bribing wealthy women away from shopping at Neiman Marcus didn't hurt one bit.

But it was walking over to someone she knew in her former, two-weeks ago life to make a sale that was the best.

Head Held High - American Woman Season 1 Episode 2

The woman was shocked to see one of her crowd attending to customers. She has such great taste! Promising not to tell could work very well in Bonnie's favor. There's nothing like a new sideshow act to get all of the shoppers into the store to make purchases.

Bonnie's entire past life will be lining up outside to see her working under the big top of the May Co. like her life depends on it. 

And hey, it does.

Don't forget to watch American Woman online if you haven't started already. You'll fall in love with these characters in no time!

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.