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Stay In The Kitchen / Live-Action TV

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Examples of Stay in the Kitchen in live-action TV.


  • Non-Super Sentai Tokusatsu has women staying away from the Transformation Trinket. Those that kept women from the trinkets managed to do well.
    • An example would be Kamen Rider; most entries in the franchise have the women away from belts and so far, these series were very well received. The others? Not so much.
    • A common observation in the fandom was that every female Kamen Rider was doomed to a very quick death, though there are exceptions.
      • Kamen Rider Decade's second movie, where Kamen Rider Kiva-la actually survived the movie she was featured in.
      • Kiva has two women who temporarily use Rider powers; one dies off-camera, apparently nothing to do with being a Rider, while the other (her daughter) survives the whole series. Hibiki had a female villain who made it most of the way through the series.
      • Faiz had a few girls use Rider powers, some of whom survived the show, but Faiz just liked killing people regardless of gender.
      • A particularly odd example is Kamen Rider Den-O, where female lead Hana is a badass, take-no-crap Action Girl — and yet for some reason she has to enlist the help of klutzy, luckless Non-Action Guy Ryotaro to become Den-O, rather than taking up the belt herself. There may be a justification in that Den-O is next to powerless without a contracted Imagin and at the start of the series, Hana despises Imagin so much that there's no way she'd partner up with one.
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    • However, the franchise is quite notorious for this, really, because, well... read the above. Before Decade, all female Riders indeed die, unless you want to extend "female Rider" to mean "borrowed someone's suit for a matter of seconds." This has let up in recent years, though, where Kamen Rider Fourze's movie Rider is revealed to survive after she sure appeared to suffer the standard girl movie Rider death, and Kamen Rider Decade not only gave us Kamen Rider Kivala but also gave its alternate versions of several such past characters happier endings. (It's joked that Kivala gets to survive because of an earlier Life Energy-draining incident; death is still obligatory but hers has already happened! This leaves her in the clear.) We're still waiting for the first woman to have Rider powers, keep them long-term, and survive.
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    • After 40 years it's happened once: Wizard lets Kamen Rider Mage keep her powers and her life, though her suit becomes the one everyone has in The Movie's alternate world where everyone can use magic. Though, at the end of the series she also gets to take up the Wizard name after Haruto leaves to begin Walking the Earth.
    • If you want it character-to-character, you want Kamen Rider Kiva. In the 80s time period, Yuri was constantly being told that Fangire-hunting was no pursuit for a woman. Like the Doctor Who Double Subversion, you wanna say "yeah, you go girl!" when she refuses... but then you see what happens when she tries to be useful. She exists to get beaten up so whoever is currently holding the IXA Knuckle can show up to save the day - and the "getting beaten up" is part is extended and brutal and Once per Episode. Her daughter continues the role in the present day.
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    • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight turns this on its head. It took Ryuki's Kamen Rider Femme (the usual: appears in a non-canon movie, gets killed) and used her footage (and a whole mess of new footage) to make Kamen Rider Siren. As one of the original Ventaran Riders, she's a soldier and not someone who Fell Into The Cockpit, so she's Kamen Rider Wing Knight's equal in being badass. The duo becomes a Power Trio. When Kase is taken out, the Siren powers are borrowed by Maya, which is incredible if you're familiar with the franchise.note  Eventually, Kase gets better and Maya decides superheroing is more Kase's thing than her own. Two female Riders for the price of one, both effective, both with happy endings.


  • Adam-12: When a female officer rides patrol with Reed, Wells never stops complaining about it. Reed himself doesn't care.
  • Melinda Culea left The A-Team because the show's producers refused to give her character a more active role. It is still unclear whether she quit, or was fired. When her character was "replaced" by Tawnia Baker, it became something of a running joke that Tawnia wanted to get involved in the action and really be a part of the Team, but either through her own ineptitude or the Team's machinations to keep the woman out of the way, she rarely got much accomplished. According to Tawnia's actress, Marla Heasley, George Peppard told her twice that no one wanted her on the show except the network. In later years, Dirk Benedict would also comment that a woman had no place on The A-Team.
    • Speaking of Dirk Benedict, witness his infamous rant about Battlestar Galactica (2003):
      Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Han Solo as Han Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women 'hand out' babies. And thus the world, for thousands of years, has gone round.
    • Subsequently, the remake of Battlestar Galactica saw far more commercial and critical success than the original did, with the female Starbuck often praised as a well-developed character.
  • Boardwalk Empire shows how different the Thompson's brothers are on their on their view on women in the 1920's. Eli believes a woman's only role is to be a housewife(even telling his daughter she doesn't need to go college and the only things she needs to learn are cooking and cleaning) and it's ok for husbands to beat their wives. Nucky, on the other hand, is a women suffrage supporter, likes strong, independent women and detests domestic abuse. Ironically, Nucky is a womanizer who sleeps with many women and despite his faults, Eli truly loves his wife and feels very guilty when he had a drunken affair.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer played with this particular trope often, mostly because the Action Girl protagonist bore a really strong resemblance to a very soft, slender, feminine teenage girl. Merely suggesting this is a good way to get Buffy to punch you in the face.
    • Typically, however, it is played for humor.
      Riley: I'm taking you home. Come on.
      Buffy: Oh, did you ever think maybe I'm gonna take you home, huh? What? You think that boys can take care of themselves and girls need help?
      Riley: Yeah.
      Buffy: That is so Teutonic.
    • Hilariously inverted in "Some Assembly Required", where Buffy and Willow are sitting around chatting while Xander and Giles dig up a grave. When the men point out that Buffy could help, very effectively thanks to her Slayer strength, she replies "I'm an old-fashioned girl. I was raised to believe the men dig the graves, the women have the babies."
  • Completely inverted in Charmed (1998). Even before he loses his powers and becomes mortal Leo was nearly always left out of the fight while the sisters went up against demons alone, despite being actually invincible. Phoebe tries to do this to Cole when he loses his powers. This being Cole, it doesn't work.
  • Parodied in Chinese Paladin with Elder Shi's comically outrageous order that the girls stay home, scrub the floors, and embroider. Played straight later in the series when Xiaoyao asks Ling'er to stay behind from a battle — because she's just given birth and is in no condition to fight. It's implied that he does so just to give her face since she is the most powerful combatant in the group.
  • In the Cold Case episode "Torn", about the murder of a young suffragette, her companions are outright told "A woman's place is in the kitchen, not rabble-rousing in the street!" by their opponents.
  • The Cosby Show
    • Sondra's boyfriend Elvin acts rather sexist towards Claire. She quickly puts him in his place.
    • Rudy's friend Kenny had a brother who fed him similar philosophies. The first time Kenny (and by extension his brother) put on this hat, Cliff was so used to dealing with Elvin's sexism that he called Kenny by the wrong name.
  • CSI: NY seems to have this with Russ, who'd rather Jo be a stay at home mom than have her career, that's why they divorced.
  • In Defiance, this is the attitude of the very traditional Castithans. They consider their traditional values as the reason they are in charge of the Votan races. In season 2, when Stahma takes over from her husband Datak his criminal empire (since their son Alak is far too weak for the job), this causes outrage among the other Castithans (at least, those who don't work for her), especially the religious leaders. Stahma, inspired by Amanda's tales of American women standing up for their rights (although she can't understand why any woman would burn her undergarments), gathers several other Castithan women to try to convince them that it's time to break with this particular tradition, only for them to tell her that her female ancestors would be ashamed of her. She goes to Plan B and poisons the three women, framing the local Castithan religious leader who has been speaking out against her. Even Datak, whom she had kicked out of their house, is visibly impressed.
  • In Dickensian, despite all the evidence that Amelia Havisham is a very intelligent and practical young woman, and her brother Arthur shows no signs of being anything other than a wastrel, he is genuinely baffled that their father's will leaves her the brewery, because he's clearly more suited to running a business.
  • Doctor Who, due to being a Long Runner from the 1960s, has its share of this across the decades.
    • The oldest serials will often play it straight due to the time period, but as the show wore on and Women's Lib took place in the real world, this trope tended to be deliberately invoked to show the strength of the female leads when she proved them wrong. Given that the show is themed around time travel, this trope most often rears its head when the Doctor and his companions end up in the past and interact with people from far less progressive time periods, providing a scene where the woman from the present has to handle the culture shock. Some specifics examples of this trope in play include:
    • Played with in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth". Barbara and Susan get taken in from wandering around unprotected by the Resistance against the Daleks, and their leader presses them on their useful skills. He asks Barbara if she can cook — she says she can get by — and then asks Susan what she does, who replies "I eat". In response, the leader clarifies that he's not asking for gender-based reasons — the resistance is just currently short on cooks. Susan's sarcasm is confirmed when we later see her cook an apparently delicious rabbit stew from a wild rabbit she hunted and prepared herself.
    • A running theme with Polly is that people always patronise her by making her get the coffee. When employed as a secretary in the Post Office Tower in 1966 in her first appearance, she was constantly told to stay out of the computer science and go and make coffee. Even as a companion, Ben taunts her by saying things like, "Polly, put the kettle on" while he and the Doctor are planning things a way of escaping the monsters. In "The Moonbase", she gets coffee for the weather machine operators (leading to the Doctor solving how some people were getting a disease), and there is one specific moment where she's planned a clever Science Hero way of defeating the Cybermen and Ben makes her stop because "this is no job for a bird".
    • In "The Faceless Ones", Ben and Polly depart the TARDIS crew and the Doctor says his goodbyes. He tells Ben to go back to the Navy and work his way up through the ranks and become an Admiral. He tells Polly, "look after Ben". Particularly callous since Polly is generally shown to be clever, more competent and ambitious than Ben, and because a big part of Polly's reason for hooking up with the Doctor in the first place was because in her real job she was being treated like an ignorant tea-maid by sexist computer engineers. Notably, in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Death of the Doctor" from 2010, Sarah Jane notes that she did hook up with Ben... though it notes both of them are working in an orphanage in India, suggesting she at least got to do something better with her life than just be "Ben's wife".
    • "The Tomb of the Cybermen": The white male archaeologists divide up several investigation parties for exploring the tomb. Victoria and Kaftan, as "the women", are asked to stay behind in the first room for their safety, accompanied by the team's only black man for their protection (keeping him out of the way as well). Victoria is unimpressed and insists on taking them all investigating, then promptly gets herself shut into a sarcophagus and has to be rescued (although by Kaftan). Keep in mind Victoria is from the 1860s and has more progressive views of gender roles than anyone else in the plot.
    • "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" has the Doctor tell Leela to wait in safety multiple times. Played with in that he's telling her to wait more because he knows how deadly a warrior she is, and is trying to limit the number of deaths she causes.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": Jerkass Eddie Connolly, from 1953, believes this to the logical extreme, that women are only good for housework and staying at home while the "real men" fight and protect them. This leads to a very satisfying moment where the Doctor calls him out by asking him if he thinks that the Queen does her own housework.
    • "Midnight": Professor Hobbes' attitude toward his assistant Dee Dee smacks of this, chastising her for introducing herself to the Doctor after he had done the same. On top of it, Dee Dee proves to be more intelligent and observant than him.
    • "The Next Doctor": Due to Deliberate Values Dissonance, Jackson Lake's attitude towards Rosita is to tell her to stay behind and let him deal with the monsters alone.
    • "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship": The Doctor goes on an adventure with Amy, Rory, Rory's dad, a great white hunter, and Nefertiti. The hunter is initially not happy with Nefertiti not being submissive to him, at one point threatening to spank her for being rude to him (her response is along the lines of "I'd love to see you try"). Amy lampshades this at one point by suggesting he needs a lesson on "gender politics". By the end of the episode, he seems to have begun to respect Nefertiti's strong will, at least enough to take her with him back to hunting big game in his own time.
    • "Twice Upon a Time": Used as a Running Gag, where the First Doctor dropping these kinds of comments to Bill constantly both insults her and humiliates the Twelfth.
  • Alex on Family Ties espoused this attitude in some of the closest times his conservative nature ever got to being the strawman.
  • Wonderfully averted with Zoe in Firefly, who regularly goes into dangerous situations with Capt. Reynolds and Jayne far more than her husband and ship pilot Wash. The episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" appears to play it straight, with Saffron more than willing to be Mal's doting housewife, much to Zoe's extreme disgust.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin Lannister seems to have had this attitude towards his daughter Cersei. He never expected her to be anything more than someone he could use to cement a marriage alliance. It's one of the reasons she's not a capable ruler — he never raised her to be one. On the other hand, Cersei also has plenty of emotional problems (again, partly due to Tywin's parenting) that get in the way of her ability to rule. Tywin flat out stated that her problem isn't her gender, her problem is that she's not as clever as she thinks she is.
    • Women with traditionally masculine aspirations like Brienne are looked down on.
    • Ambitious women like Margaery generally achieve power by controlling the men in their lives, due to this being a general belief in Westeros, though not north of the Wall.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: The Republic of Gilead believes women should not work, nor own property. First, they froze all of the women's credit cards and bank accounts, then had them fired. When Serena Joy tries to draw on her publicist past and give Fred advice on how to deal with an Aunt who escaped to Canada and has sold her story, he quickly shuts her down and refuses to let her read the news story.
  • Sometimes pops up in Horrible Histories, and is usually Played for Laughs (like pretty much everything else). The "Historical Wife Swap: Spartans and Athenians" sketch is one example:
    "These Spartans are unbelievable! At school, Spartan girls are taught how to wrestle and throw javelins! Imagine that - a girl going to school! They should be at home, learning how to sew!"
  • I Love Lucy usually revolves around Lucy's desire to circumvent her husband's wishes and get into show business because Ricky "wants a wife who's just a wife."
    • Given that one of the running gags throughout the show was that Lucy (the on-screen character) had no performing talent to speak of (she never let it stop her), Ricky might have been playing the "traditional wife" card as a way to keep her out of the show without hurting her feelings.
    • The episode "Job Switching" twisted this trope around in so many marvelous ways. Frustrated that she has always been told to "stay in the kitchen," Lucy whines and whines (as only she can do) to get a job. Ricky agrees, but with the caveat that he gets to "stay in the kitchen." (Ethel is having the same issues with Fred, so each goes along with his gender counterpart.) More than 65 years after it first aired, the events that play out — en route to both sides declaring a truce and having a new appreciation for the other's role in the marriage — are still a comedy classic.
  • JAG: In "Scimitar", Lt. Dumai is not terribly well respected by her Iraqi male peers and does her best to keep her head down rather than draw their ire.
  • Artie Kendall, the ghost of an old-fashioned lounge singer who occasionally appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, always sung three wildly offensive songs. His "song for the ladies" would always consist entirely of this trope. For example:
    Oh, women should be forced to stay indoors
    And never fed until they've done their chores
    But men should all roam free
    To commit adultery
    With an endless string of sleazy German whores
  • LOST:
    • Jin often has this attitude towards his wife Sun, especially in early episodes. Of course, as we get more development of their characters, we find out he had his reasons for this, which while not right, at least made sense.
    • The last season revolves around a list of names Jacob, the master of the Island, made in his cave, which turns out to be the list of people who can potentially replace him. A big deal is made of the fact that Kate's name is crossed out, but when she confronts him about it, he reveals it's just a low-key version of this trope: She became a mother, and he assumed she would rather stay with her son.
      Jacob: It's just a line on a wall, Kate. The job's yours if you want it.
  • In Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, set in The Roaring '20s, this causes friction between Dot and her fiancé Hugh when Hugh assumes that Dot will quit her job as Miss Fisher's aide and become a housewife once they're married. Dot surprises them both by calling off the engagement until he relents and strong-arming their priest into dropping the "Stay in the Kitchen" elements of the wedding homily for good measure.
  • On The Mod Squad, Julie always stood around whenever Pete and Link had to fight the bad guys.
  • Averted hilariously in NCIS. Gibbs orders Ziva to remain behind while the men go and pursue a serial killer who has a woman tied up somewhere. A female park ranger says to her sympathetically "I hate it when men try and protect you coz you're female." Ziva said, "Oh, he's not trying to protect me. He's worried I'll kill [the guy] before he tells us where the girl is." And it was a good thing too, since it turned out the man they were chasing wasn't the real killer.
  • One Life to Live: When Kevin Buchanan was accused of participating in a gang rape (wrongly, as the traumatized victim had merely confused him with those who did attack her), his Uncle Bo suggests his girlfriend Nora for his legal representation. His father/Kevin's grandfather Asa irritably snaps, "Bo, if God had intended for women to be lawyers, he wouldn't have invented the kitchen."
  • In Only Fools and Horses, this is a source of conflict between Rodney and Cassandra; early in their marriage, Rodney is annoyed to find that Cassandra wants to devote time to her career, rather than staying at home as he'd planned. They eventually resolve their differences.
  • Power Rangers has had a few of these in its history. In a lot of cases, the Pink Ranger will be the one helping the innocent bystanders get to safety while the others are defeating the actual monster. This was subverted when Super Sentai was brought over from Japan, however, since they turned one of the male rangers into a female. This left one of the women in the fight while the other was helping victims. In general, the American Power Rangers franchise tries to promote more active female combatants where possible.
    • This was subverted in Mirai Sentai Timeranger, in which the Pink Ranger was the leader of the team, though the always male Red Ranger was the actual field commander (despite far less experience).
    • This carried over into its American equivalent, Power Rangers Time Force, to a point - Wes got standing-in-the-center-during-the-Ass-Kicking Pose privileges because that's how the series rolls and sentai footage demands it, but Jen was definitely in charge. However, as Wes is not a Time Force officer, if anyone's going to stand his ground against her when her judgment is impaired by a certain element in her past ( Since Jen lost her fiance in a brutal murder and is shown as being traumatized by this, having the Red Ranger as backup can count as a 'safety measure'.) it'll be Wes, and as time goes on, she's more likely to listen to him. Also, a lot of Wes' taking point was justified by the tech: Wes was using his descendant's DNA-locked gear, and before he died, he definitely was the leader. That means there's one morpher that has to be unlocked before the others can be, one Zord cockpit that has the most control, and so forth, and it's not Jen's. However, Wes clearly didn't outrank her, and one episode even treats us to the rare (and fairly awesome) sight of a Pink chewing out a Red for not obeying her orders.
    • Sentai has had other female team leaders with NinjaWhite and GekiYellow, although in both cases the male Red Ranger was still the main character.
    • Used among the villains of Power Rangers RPM. A general thought lost in the war on humanity reappears and spends most of his introduction being condescending towards Dark Action Girl Tenaya 7. Although it did have equally as much to do with the fact she looked, and was programmed to think, feel, and act like a human, nevermind her gender.
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger toyed with this in the role of the Red Ranger. For most of the series, Takeru is Shinken Red, thus maintaining the Always Male role. However, near the series conclusion, it is revealed that Kaoru, a girl, is the true 18th head of the Shiba house and the real Shinken Red. She finally takes the position for herself, becoming the franchise's first Red Ranger...for a grand total of five episodes at the end of the series. She relinquishes her position back to Takeru by adopting him as her son and successor, thus making him the 19th head of the Shiba house. It's explicitly stated this is more because the team was loyal to Takeru first and worked better with him than with Kaoru. In the epilogue, she's told to marry - which she flatly refuses to do. She also takes up the Shinken Red banner again in some of the subsequent crossovers afterward. It's up in the air how Power Rangers Samurai will handle this arc, though as a woman has been cast to play a similar character, it's expected this trope will appear again.
    • Now Samurai is complete, and not only did we get the arc kept largely intact, but Lauren also gets way more development than Kaoru.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue looks like it's doing this in an early episode, as Pink Ranger Dana is assigned a seemingly unimportant mission to escort an old friend of their mentor (and her father) back to the Aquabase so they can spend some time together, while the rest of the team is on a different escort mission, bringing a scientist with a special fuel cell back to the base. Dana is very annoyed with this, feeling her father doesn't trust her skills... until she finds out he'd subverted the trope and sent her to guard the real fuel cell while the rest of the team was protecting a decoy.
  • Played straight to the point of lampshading with Saturday Night Live's Herb Welch, a senile, bumbling, elderly reporter incapable of covering a story or carrying out an interview. In one skit, a female anchor asks him a question. When Herb pointedly ignores her and is admonished for this by the male anchor, Herb snaps, "Well, she can go back to her kitchen." In another skit, this time he responds by sarcastically asking if she's finished cleaning her living room.
  • Sledge Hammer!: Inspector Sledge Hammer doesn't approve of his partner being a woman, which at one point leads to the following exchange:
    Doreau: What, you think all women should be barefoot and pregnant?
    Hammer: No, I encourage women to wear shoes.
  • Smallville: In "Persuasion", Lois develops this attitude when Clark unwittingly uses his Compelling Voice on her, wishing they had a more "traditional relationship". She even quits her job and starts dressing as a Housewife.
  • Subverted in the pilot of Stargate SG-1. O'Neill's objection to bringing along Samantha Carter initially seems like this trope, but he later clarifies this his objection to her is not that she's a woman, but that she's a scientist.
  • In the Star Trek universe, this was pretty much part of the hats worn by Ferengi. Women were considered property and were pretty much barred from doing anything, even wearing clothes. However, by the time of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it would take Quark's mother, Ishka, to finally drive home that Ferengi women could help bring in even more profit (their major hat) by wearing clothes and starting businesses. By the end of the series, the reforms are in full swing and that part of the hat is on the way out.
  • Strong Medicine. Dr. Andy Campbell, an Army surgeon, attends a recruiting event and is dismayed to see that the male officer has this attitude towards every female interested in joining. When he displays the same attitude towards her, she angrily reminds him that he's not only speaking a fellow officer, he's speaking to a superior and tells him to shut up.
    • Dr. Dylan West actually does not have this attitude, but pretends to occasionally in order to irritate the local Straw Feminist Dr. Lu Delgado.
  • In an episode of Warehouse 13, Pete and Myka Mental Time Travel to 1961 to find a killer who uses Cinderella's Glass knife to turn several women into glass, leaving to Literally Shattered Lives. Their prime suspect is the victims' boss, a magazine editor who appears to be a typical 60s chauvinist, chastising women from socializing at work, claiming that it's a "place of business, not a knitting circle" before going to chat with some other men at work. They find out that he has another place where he, apparently, keeps his mistress (one of the magazine employees). Subverted when it turns out that he's been working with these women to try to take over the magazine and introduce new ideas with their help (such as suggesting a swimsuit issue for Sports Illustrated 3 years before the first one came out). That's right, he recognized that the women he worked with were smart and capable and could do much more than this or work a typewriter. His "second home" was where they met to plan their takeover. Unfortunately, he didn't think to tell his wife, who assumed he was having an affair and used the Knife to kill the women.
  • The X-Files episode "2shy" features a local detective who has this way of thinking towards Scully. Never mind that she's an FBI agent. With a medical degree. And a gun, which she can handle quite well.


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