History Main / TheStepfordWives

2nd Aug '13 12:28:03 PM MarkLungo
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[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stepford-wives-1975_4151.jpg]]

->''Something strange is happening in the town of Stepford.\\
Where the men spend their nights doing something secret.\\
And every woman acts like every man's dream of the "perfect" wife.\\
Where a young woman watches the dream become a nightmare.\\
And sees the nightmare engulf her best friend.\\
And realizes that any moment, any second -- her turn is coming.''

''The Stepford Wives'' started life as a 1972 novel by Ira Levin. In it, Joanna Eberhart, her husband Walter, and their two young children move from New York City to the eponymous Connecticut commuter-town. Joanna becomes friends with fellow new arrival Bobbie Markowe, as the two of them also become more and more concerned with the behavior of the other housewives in Stepford, who are all impossibly beautiful, housework-obsessed and totally submissive towards their husbands, who in turn are all members of the "Men's Association." The novel was successful enough to be made into a movie in 1975; WilliamGoldman's script was fairly faithful to the original, with the major difference being a far more explicit finale showing what was happening to the wives. In both versions, the wives were robot duplicates that replaced the original women after their husbands had them murdered. Both versions of the story had {{Downer Ending}}s.

While just a modest hit in theaters, the film quickly sprouted a meme in the 1970s, with the term "Stepford Wife" becoming a catchphrase used to describe [[{{Housewife}} female homemakers]] who were sexually repressed and only concerned with domestic chores.

No theatrical sequels were made, but the movie spawned, over the course of two decades, three [[MadeForTVMovie made-for-TV]] "sequels": ''The Revenge of the Stepford Wives'', ''The Stepford Children'', and ''The Stepford Husbands''. The lack of Levin and/or Goldman's involvement was painfully obvious, and all three films were also victims of [[{{Bowdlerise}} bowdlerization]]: in ''Revenge'' and ''Husbands'', the victims were not killed and replaced but instead merely brainwashed, while ''Children'' had the replaced teenager left alive for no readily-apparent reason, allowing in all three cases for a rescue and happy ending.

In 2004, Frank Oz directed a more overtly comedic remake of the original film. The production suffered from [[TroubledProduction severe behind-the-scenes turmoil]], including actors walking off the project and some last-minute reshoots. Many viewers found the revelations of the resulting finale to [[GainaxEnding come completely out of left field]] and contradict the rest of the movie, but as always, [[YMMV/TheStepfordWives Your Mileage May Vary]].
----
!!The original film/novel, and its sequels, provide examples of:

* TheBeautifulElite
* BlackEyesOfEvil: [[RoboticReveal When Joanna meets her robot double in the film]], it hasn't quite been finished yet and is sporting a pair of these. (This is a minor SpecialEffectsFailure, as they're supposed to be empty sockets-- the black contact lenses reflected ambient lighting.) It's also sporting a [[EvilIsSexy new large bustline]].
* {{Brainwashed}}: Some of the sequels had this as the method of creating the Wives/Husbands, instead of out-and-out replacement.
* BrokenRecord: In addition to the example under {{Foreshadowing}} below, there's also the robot Bobbie after Joanna [[spoiler: stabs her with a knife.]]
* ChekhovsGun: The word "archaic."
* CreatorBacklash: Levin and screenwriter William Goldman were upset that instead of the sexy women of the novel, they were replaced by homemakers, because of the MoralGuardians. Goldman raged, "If you're going to fuck a toaster, it'd better be a ''sexy'' toaster."
* ExtremeDoormat: The Stepford Wives do nothing except follow their husbands wishes, and cook and clean. This especially evident at the attempted feminist meeting Joanna and Bobbie set up, where most of the other wives initially cannot talk about anything as they are away from their husbands, and revert to talking about cleaning products, almost like in an advertisement.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: "I'll just ''die'' if I don't get that recipe!" .... "I'll just ''die'' if I don't get that recipe!" ... [[BrokenRecord "I'll just]] ''[[BrokenRecord die]]'' [[BrokenRecord if I don't get that recipe!"]]
* MotorMouth: [[TheSimpsons Julie Kavner's]] character in ''Revenge''.
* ParanoiaFuel: Joanna experiences in-universe this when she realizes that either her husband is going to have her replaced with a robot that no one will be able to tell isn't her, or she's going crazy and this is all in her head. She isn't sure which of these two scenarios is worse.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: One of the Wives malfunctions while attending a garden party.
* PyrrhicVillainy: One of the few high points in ''Revenge of the Stepford Wives'' was an older Men's Association member revisiting [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone the painful realization]] of what he had given up by having his wife remade.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: The original vision of the first movie had the Wives all dressed like "[[PlayboyBunny Playboy Bunnies]] [[{{Stripperiffic}} sans ears and tail]]". Then director Bryan Forbes cast his actress wife Nanette Newman as one of the Wives, and whatever talents as a thespian she possessed, her physique wasn't remotely up to it, and so all the Wives ended up in long flowing dresses that made them look like [[TheFifties '50s]] [[{{Housewife}} housewives]]. This may have been for the better, as one of the book's key themes was how the women were unwillingly pressed into domestic servitude and forced to give up their ambitions, and the housewife outfits highlight that much better than the skimpier outfits originally planned would have.
* {{Recycled IN|Space}} [[HighSchool HIGH SCHOOL!]]: ''DisturbingBehavior''.
* RidiculouslyHumanRobots
* RoboticReveal: Again, only explicitly done in the movie(s).
* RoboticSpouse
* {{Sexbot}}
* StepfordSmiler: The TropeNamer, with the remake providing the page image.
* StepfordSuburbia: [[TropeNamer Ditto.]] The empty sterility of American suburbia is a major theme in the original film.
* TakeThat: Or else a ShoutOut. The mastermind behind the whole Men's Association conspiracy used to build animatronic robots at [[DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]].
* TownWithADarkSecret: One of the archetypal examples.
* UglyGuyHotWife: The town pharmacist. Justified, since he's married to a Stepford Wife.
** Many of the men in stepford have wives that are more attractive than them, albeit not at the extent of the pharmacist and his wife. Again, justified for most of them. Charmaine thinks that her husband choose her as something of a trophy wife, and does not love her.
* UncannyVillage

!!The 2004 version provides examples of:
* AlasPoorYorick
* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' a reality show about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:
--> '''Joanna''': Let me ask you something. These machines. These Stepford Wives. Can they say "I love you"?\\
'''Walter''': Mike?\\
'''Mike''': Of course. In 58 languages.\\
'''Joanna''': But do they ''mean'' it?
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Joanna. In the beginning, her pet project at the network she works at is a {{reality TV}} show similar to ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_Island_(TV_series) Temptation Island]]''. At a press conference, while hyping up her show, she is confronted and ''shot at'' by a man whose marriage was ruined by the show, and who [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge shot his cheating wife and her lovers in rage]]. Afterwords, Joanna is already planning out the reunion show to exploit the carnage she has accidentally inflicted, only to not only be fired from the network, but also blacklisted from television due to her utterly irresponsible decisions in programming.
** What does it say that ''that'' is probably the [[TakeThat most unbelievable thing in the movie]]?
* DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale[=/=]WomenAreWiser[=/=]MenAreTheExpendableGender[=/=]TheUnfairSex: Pretty much every single show Joanna made was designed to make men worthless and promote women as the superior.
* DownerEnding: Subverted. Walter destroys the computer controlling the wives, freeing them of their brainwashing.
* FemaleMisogynist: Claire
* GayConservative: The StraightGay in the gay couple.
* HeroicBSOD: Joanna.
* TheManBehindTheMan: The viewer is lead to believe that Mike is behind the operation, but really he's just a Stepford Husband created by his "wife" Claire, the real BigBad of Stepford.
* MarriedToTheJob
* NotHisSled: The 2004 remake had its own [[ShockingSwerve shocking surprise ending]], where it's revealed the wives weren't replaced by robots - directly contradicting several scenes.
* OldShame: Several members of the production crew, including Oz, have been quoted as taking this view.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: One of the Wives malfunctions while attending a square dance.
* PlotHole: The movie quite clearly indicates the wives are robots (see the ATM wife). Then at the end, they are not. This was due to [[ViewersAreMorons test audiences]] disliking the DownerEnding, leading to ExecutiveMeddling and a hastily shot revised ending.
** It helps that the overall tone of the movie is closer to a RomanticComedy than the horror/satire of the original. The original ending does feel somewhat out of place with the more comedic tone this one takes.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Hank, the disgruntled reality show contestant, at the very beginning.
* RobotDog
* ScreamDiscretionShot
* StepfordSmiler: In addition to [[TropeNamer the obvious]], Walter is also one of these, until he cracks.
* TakeThat:
** Towards reality TV; see CorruptCorporateExecutive above.
** "So I wondered, where in the world would nobody notice a town full of mindless, lifeless automatons? And then I thought, of course! Connecticut!"
** The original's Disney reference is updated to a dig at America Online ("Is that why the women are so slow?"). Most of Disney's pioneering work with animatronics was done in the '60s and '70s, making the reference somewhat dated by 2004.]
* TroubledProduction: Some deleted scenes (and, confusingly, some scenes that remain in the movie) show that the wives were supposed to actually be robots like the original and this was changed late in production.
* UnfortunateImplications: The film actually has Joanna ask Claire why she didn't just ''enslave all the men'' in response to the reason she created Mike, as though it was a better means of revenge. Partially subverted in that Claire reveals she intended to eventually enslave the entire town. [[invoked]]
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: What appears to be the villain's main motive for turning the women into robots.
* WithOrWithoutYou
-->'''Joanna Eberhart''': It's... It's not our world. It's not us. And I'm picking up our kids from camp right now, and we're getting out of here. With or without you.
----

to:

[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stepford-wives-1975_4151.jpg]]

->''Something strange is happening in the town of Stepford.\\
Where the men spend their nights doing something secret.\\
And every woman acts like every man's dream of the "perfect" wife.\\
Where a young woman watches the dream become a nightmare.\\
And sees the nightmare engulf her best friend.\\
And realizes that any moment, any second -- her turn is coming.''

''The Stepford Wives'' started life as a 1972 novel by Ira Levin. In it, Joanna Eberhart, her husband Walter, and their two young children move from New York City to the eponymous Connecticut commuter-town. Joanna becomes friends with fellow new arrival Bobbie Markowe, as the two of them also become more and more concerned with the behavior of the other housewives in Stepford, who are all impossibly beautiful, housework-obsessed and totally submissive towards their husbands, who in turn are all members of the "Men's Association." The novel was successful enough to be made into a movie in 1975; WilliamGoldman's script was fairly faithful to the original, with the major difference being a far more explicit finale showing what was happening to the wives. In both versions, the wives were robot duplicates that replaced the original women after their husbands had them murdered. Both versions of the story had {{Downer Ending}}s.

While just a modest hit in theaters, the film quickly sprouted a meme in the 1970s, with the term "Stepford Wife" becoming a catchphrase used to describe [[{{Housewife}} female homemakers]] who were sexually repressed and only concerned with domestic chores.

No theatrical sequels were made, but the movie spawned, over the course of two decades, three [[MadeForTVMovie made-for-TV]] "sequels": ''The Revenge of the Stepford Wives'', ''The Stepford Children'', and ''The Stepford Husbands''. The lack of Levin and/or Goldman's involvement was painfully obvious, and all three films were also victims of [[{{Bowdlerise}} bowdlerization]]: in ''Revenge'' and ''Husbands'', the victims were not killed and replaced but instead merely brainwashed, while ''Children'' had the replaced teenager left alive for no readily-apparent reason, allowing in all three cases for a rescue and happy ending.

In 2004, Frank Oz directed a more overtly comedic remake of the original film. The production suffered from [[TroubledProduction severe behind-the-scenes turmoil]], including actors walking off the project and some last-minute reshoots. Many viewers found the revelations of the resulting finale to [[GainaxEnding come completely out of left field]] and contradict the rest of the movie, but as always, [[YMMV/TheStepfordWives Your Mileage May Vary]].
----
!!The original film/novel, and its sequels, provide examples of:

* TheBeautifulElite
* BlackEyesOfEvil: [[RoboticReveal When Joanna meets her robot double in the film]], it hasn't quite been finished yet and is sporting a pair of these. (This is a minor SpecialEffectsFailure, as they're supposed to be empty sockets-- the black contact lenses reflected ambient lighting.) It's also sporting a [[EvilIsSexy new large bustline]].
* {{Brainwashed}}: Some of the sequels had this as the method of creating the Wives/Husbands, instead of out-and-out replacement.
* BrokenRecord: In addition to the example under {{Foreshadowing}} below, there's also the robot Bobbie after Joanna [[spoiler: stabs her with a knife.]]
* ChekhovsGun: The word "archaic."
* CreatorBacklash: Levin and screenwriter William Goldman were upset that instead of the sexy women of the novel, they were replaced by homemakers, because of the MoralGuardians. Goldman raged, "If you're going to fuck a toaster, it'd better be a ''sexy'' toaster."
* ExtremeDoormat: The Stepford Wives do nothing except follow their husbands wishes, and cook and clean. This especially evident at the attempted feminist meeting Joanna and Bobbie set up, where most of the other wives initially cannot talk about anything as they are away from their husbands, and revert to talking about cleaning products, almost like in an advertisement.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: "I'll just ''die'' if I don't get that recipe!" .... "I'll just ''die'' if I don't get that recipe!" ... [[BrokenRecord "I'll just]] ''[[BrokenRecord die]]'' [[BrokenRecord if I don't get that recipe!"]]
* MotorMouth: [[TheSimpsons Julie Kavner's]] character in ''Revenge''.
* ParanoiaFuel: Joanna experiences in-universe this when she realizes that either her husband is going to have her replaced with a robot that no one will be able to tell isn't her, or she's going crazy and this is all in her head. She isn't sure which of these two scenarios is worse.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: One of the Wives malfunctions while attending a garden party.
* PyrrhicVillainy: One of the few high points in ''Revenge of the Stepford Wives'' was an older Men's Association member revisiting [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone the painful realization]] of what he had given up by having his wife remade.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: The original vision of the first movie had the Wives all dressed like "[[PlayboyBunny Playboy Bunnies]] [[{{Stripperiffic}} sans ears and tail]]". Then director Bryan Forbes cast his actress wife Nanette Newman as one of the Wives, and whatever talents as a thespian she possessed, her physique wasn't remotely up to it, and so all the Wives ended up in long flowing dresses that made them look like [[TheFifties '50s]] [[{{Housewife}} housewives]]. This may have been for the better, as one of the book's key themes was how the women were unwillingly pressed into domestic servitude and forced to give up their ambitions, and the housewife outfits highlight that much better than the skimpier outfits originally planned would have.
* {{Recycled IN|Space}} [[HighSchool HIGH SCHOOL!]]: ''DisturbingBehavior''.
* RidiculouslyHumanRobots
* RoboticReveal: Again, only explicitly done in the movie(s).
* RoboticSpouse
* {{Sexbot}}
* StepfordSmiler: The TropeNamer, with the remake providing the page image.
* StepfordSuburbia: [[TropeNamer Ditto.]] The empty sterility of American suburbia is a major theme in the original film.
* TakeThat: Or else a ShoutOut. The mastermind behind the whole Men's Association conspiracy used to build animatronic robots at [[DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]].
* TownWithADarkSecret: One of the archetypal examples.
* UglyGuyHotWife: The town pharmacist. Justified, since he's married to a Stepford Wife.
** Many of the men in stepford have wives that are more attractive than them, albeit not at the extent of the pharmacist and his wife. Again, justified for most of them. Charmaine thinks that her husband choose her as something of a trophy wife, and does not love her.
* UncannyVillage

!!The 2004 version provides examples of:
* AlasPoorYorick
* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' a reality show about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:
--> '''Joanna''': Let me ask you something. These machines. These Stepford Wives. Can they say "I love you"?\\
'''Walter''': Mike?\\
'''Mike''': Of course. In 58 languages.\\
'''Joanna''': But do they ''mean'' it?
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Joanna. In the beginning, her pet project at the network she works at is a {{reality TV}} show similar to ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_Island_(TV_series) Temptation Island]]''. At a press conference, while hyping up her show, she is confronted and ''shot at'' by a man whose marriage was ruined by the show, and who [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge shot his cheating wife and her lovers in rage]]. Afterwords, Joanna is already planning out the reunion show to exploit the carnage she has accidentally inflicted, only to not only be fired from the network, but also blacklisted from television due to her utterly irresponsible decisions in programming.
** What does it say that ''that'' is probably the [[TakeThat most unbelievable thing in the movie]]?
* DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale[=/=]WomenAreWiser[=/=]MenAreTheExpendableGender[=/=]TheUnfairSex: Pretty much every single show Joanna made was designed to make men worthless and promote women as the superior.
* DownerEnding: Subverted. Walter destroys the computer controlling the wives, freeing them of their brainwashing.
* FemaleMisogynist: Claire
* GayConservative: The StraightGay in the gay couple.
* HeroicBSOD: Joanna.
* TheManBehindTheMan: The viewer is lead to believe that Mike is behind the operation, but really he's just a Stepford Husband created by his "wife" Claire, the real BigBad of Stepford.
* MarriedToTheJob
* NotHisSled: The 2004 remake had its own [[ShockingSwerve shocking surprise ending]], where it's revealed the wives weren't replaced by robots - directly contradicting several scenes.
* OldShame: Several members of the production crew, including Oz, have been quoted as taking this view.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: One of the Wives malfunctions while attending a square dance.
* PlotHole: The movie quite clearly indicates the wives are robots (see the ATM wife). Then at the end, they are not. This was due to [[ViewersAreMorons test audiences]] disliking the DownerEnding, leading to ExecutiveMeddling and a hastily shot revised ending.
** It helps that the overall tone of the movie is closer to a RomanticComedy than the horror/satire of the original. The original ending does feel somewhat out of place with the more comedic tone this one takes.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Hank, the disgruntled reality show contestant, at the very beginning.
* RobotDog
* ScreamDiscretionShot
* StepfordSmiler: In addition to [[TropeNamer the obvious]], Walter is also one of these, until he cracks.
* TakeThat:
** Towards reality TV; see CorruptCorporateExecutive above.
** "So I wondered, where in the world would nobody notice a town full of mindless, lifeless automatons? And then I thought, of course! Connecticut!"
** The original's Disney reference is updated to a dig at America Online ("Is that why the women are so slow?"). Most of Disney's pioneering work with animatronics was done in the '60s and '70s, making the reference somewhat dated by 2004.]
* TroubledProduction: Some deleted scenes (and, confusingly, some scenes that remain in the movie) show that the wives were supposed to actually be robots like the original and this was changed late in production.
* UnfortunateImplications: The film actually has Joanna ask Claire why she didn't just ''enslave all the men'' in response to the reason she created Mike, as though it was a better means of revenge. Partially subverted in that Claire reveals she intended to eventually enslave the entire town. [[invoked]]
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: What appears to be the villain's main motive for turning the women into robots.
* WithOrWithoutYou
-->'''Joanna Eberhart''': It's... It's not our world. It's not us. And I'm picking up our kids from camp right now, and we're getting out of here. With or without you.
----
[[redirect:Literature/TheStepfordWives]]
30th Jul '13 8:52:00 AM LentilSandEater
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** And then either reinstated when the end, without showing the wives, implies that the '''WIVES''' are now in complete control and keep their husbands as docile servants.
** It was said they were under "house arrest", so it's safe to assume the wives considered this was a fitting punishment in lieu of jail time.
10th Jun '13 3:31:07 AM Match25
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Added DiffLines:

* DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale[=/=]WomenAreWiser[=/=]MenAreTheExpendableGender[=/=]TheUnfairSex: Pretty much every single show Joanna made was designed to make men worthless and promote women as the superior.
10th Jun '13 3:25:55 AM Match25
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* UnfortunateImplications: The film actually has Joanna ask Claire why she didn't just ''enslave all the men'' in response to the reason she created Mike, as though it was a better means of revenge. Partially subverted in that Claire reveals she intended to eventually enslave the entire town.

to:

* UnfortunateImplications: The film actually has Joanna ask Claire why she didn't just ''enslave all the men'' in response to the reason she created Mike, as though it was a better means of revenge. Partially subverted in that Claire reveals she intended to eventually enslave the entire town. [[invoked]]
21st Apr '13 8:55:11 PM Warwolf
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Added DiffLines:

* UnfortunateImplications: The film actually has Joanna ask Claire why she didn't just ''enslave all the men'' in response to the reason she created Mike, as though it was a better means of revenge. Partially subverted in that Claire reveals she intended to eventually enslave the entire town.
3rd Feb '13 1:11:02 AM JAF1970
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Added DiffLines:

* CreatorBacklash: Levin and screenwriter William Goldman were upset that instead of the sexy women of the novel, they were replaced by homemakers, because of the MoralGuardians. Goldman raged, "If you're going to fuck a toaster, it'd better be a ''sexy'' toaster."
11th Jan '13 8:55:08 AM TamiTam
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Added DiffLines:

** Many of the men in stepford have wives that are more attractive than them, albeit not at the extent of the pharmacist and his wife. Again, justified for most of them. Charmaine thinks that her husband choose her as something of a trophy wife, and does not love her.
25th Dec '12 11:10:59 AM TamiTam
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Added DiffLines:

* ExtremeDoormat: The Stepford Wives do nothing except follow their husbands wishes, and cook and clean. This especially evident at the attempted feminist meeting Joanna and Bobbie set up, where most of the other wives initially cannot talk about anything as they are away from their husbands, and revert to talking about cleaning products, almost like in an advertisement.
13th Dec '12 9:38:33 PM DCarrier
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* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_Island_(TV_series) a reality show]] about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.

to:

* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_Island_(TV_series) a reality show]] show about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.
13th Dec '12 9:37:56 PM DCarrier
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* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' a reality show about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.

to:

* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, there actually ''was'' [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_Island_(TV_series) a reality show show]] about putting a married couple's relationship to the test by separating them on an island full of sexy people. And ''yes'' it was on Fox.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.TheStepfordWives