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Betty Buckley Reflects on Sexism During ‘Eight Is Enough’: “They Assigned Me To The Kitchen”

Actress Betty Buckley, known for her role as stepmother Abby Bradford in the classic family drama ‘Eight is Enough’, recently opened up about the show’s portrayal of gender roles, calling them “outdated.”

Buckley, who was in her twenties when the series began in 1977, revealed that the show often relegated her character to traditional domestic activities. “They put me in a muumuu and put me in the kitchen,” she said in an interview. “And so I was like, ‘You guys, this is pre-1950s. Come on.'”

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Buckley’s frustration stemmed from the disconnect between the show’s portrayal of a modern family and the limitations placed on her character. While the series tackled contemporary issues like blended families and working mothers, it seemingly contradicted those themes by confining Abby to stereotypical domestic roles.

This experience wasn’t unique to Buckley. According to a 2023 study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, female characters on television still lag behind males in terms of occupational representation. The study found that women are more likely to be portrayed in traditionally feminine jobs like caregivers and homemakers.

Image Courtesy: People

Buckley’s comments highlight a shift in societal expectations and the evolving portrayal of women in media. While ‘Eight is Enough’ reflected the social norms of the late 1970s, today’s audiences are increasingly critical of outdated gender stereotypes.

Despite the limitations placed on her character, Buckley acknowledges the positive impact of ‘Eight is Enough’ on her career. “It was a dream job,” she stated, reflecting on the show’s overall experience.  “I grew into a better actress. I’m very proud of it.”

-Sushmita Sarkar

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