Generating intimacy: Rage, female friendship and the heteropatriarchal household in TV post #MeToo

Karen Schaller, Alison Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article looks at three post-2016, post #MeToo television shows that depict friendships between heterosexual mothers which are forged through rage and murder: Dead to Me (Netflix 2019-2022), Good Girls (NBC 2018-2021) and Big Little Lies (HBO 2017-2019). We situate these shows as indicative of a wider context where rage is increasingly legible in popular culture and holds particular kinds of political promise. We argue that legibility emerges from the specific historical, social and economic forces of the present conjuncture, including increasing precarity and the unequal distribution of assets. In our shows, rage is directed against the lie of the postfeminist contract (McRobbie 2009), and the cruel optimism of the happy ever after (Berlant 2011), representing the possibility of subverting the heteropatriarchal household as well as politicising social reproduction. This possibility suffuses these shows with the vitality of feminist promise; heightening the visual pleasures of intimacy between the women. The potential for subversion drives the shows’ affect – what we call their epistemerotics of rage: a narrative arc whose forward drive derives from watching women coming into their knowledge about men’s violence. Yet rage is also recuperating the household it seems to threaten and we argue this has to do with the racialisations of that household in the American imaginary. Our attention to rage reveals a historical shift in sensibility that, though potentially radical, also risks retrenching oppressions. Differently able to grapple with this, these shows are useful case studies for how feminist inquiry responds to rage in the contemporary.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSigns: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jan 2024


  • rage feminism contemporary culture

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