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The big little lie of the TV kitchen island (curbed.com)
36 points by pshaw 76 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

"Over the decades, as versions of this housewife’s setup have eliminated dining rooms, pass-throughs, and farmhouse tables, the open-concept kitchen, centered around an island visible from all sides, has become not a labor-saving device but a stage on which (mostly) women are forced to perform."

I gave up here. This is so stupid that I'm not sure what is the premise that I should critique.

Also Im a guy who cooks in a kitchen with an island and I love it.

There's an excellent book about the history of domestic technology called "More work for mother." It details how the more domestic tech we created, the more work shifted from the man of the house to the lady of the house and standards were raised

Three hundred years ago, full-time wives did about 60 hours/week of housework. Today, with all our modern appliances, they still do about 60 hours/week of housework.

In most families, as women begin working outside the home, they still do 40 hours/week of housework. The men mostly have not picked up the difference.

I'm a former homemaker. I got divorced and got a corporate job. My adult special needs sons continued to live with me.

Co-workers would express pity anout how I worked full-time and also had to go home and cook dinner. They were flabbergasted to learn my oldest son did the cooking.

Given that I was working at a Fortune 200 company, these were presumably some of the most privileged "ordinary" women on the planet. Even the highest ranking woman in my department whose husband moved to let her accept the promotion was not comfortable learning about my arrangement at home because she apparently still did most of the women's work at home while having a VIP job.

This all seems very reasonable but none of this is seems to be what is argued here.

This person hates islands and maybe a TV show featuring one because something about the idea of "being performative". It's just a bunch of trite crap.

I think they dislike this specific island used on the show because it no longer makes any sense. In the same way families would sit around the dinner table they now sit around this gargantuan kitchen island. It's the worst of both worlds: the dining room is now taking up all the space in the kitchen and this person needs to run around this ridiculous island when they cook.

An argument can be made that some kitchen islands are useful. It would be a struggle to make that argument for this particular kitchen island.

It's only touched on in the article but I find the idea that some people have _two_ kitchens, a smaller and private one in which they cook and then _another entire kitchen_ that is larger and only for show to be much more upsetting than this crazy big kitchen island.

I was also fairly shocked by that part of the article, but when you follow the actual link and read the design trend, its much less about having a second place to _cook_. It’s a second place to store items, hold courses during parties and to hide away things that you’d use ‘between’ meals like coffee makers and the like that are a pain to clean on each use.

Still crazy extravagant but not as bad as the throw away paragraph in the article suggests.

I've definitely seen the two-kitchen setup at the houses of some more well-to-do family friends.

The kind of cooking done there will usually be only the final part of the meal, e.g., searing the steaks after the vegetables have been made in the work kitchen, or assembling the sushi after the rice has been made. Cocktails would also potentially be mixed here (unless they have a separate bar area for that).

The guests would sit around with their drinks and chat to the host whilst they create the final part of the meal, or perhaps a starter, and serve it freshly prepared.

It's an extravagance, to be sure, but it allows wealthy hosts to show off their cooking skills in front of guests.

> I find the idea that some people have _two_ kitchens, a smaller and private one in which they cook and then _another entire kitchen_ that is larger and only for show to be much more upsetting than this crazy big kitchen island.

It’s also not a new idea. My great-grandmother has a nice kitchen in her house, but did most of the cooking for the family on a second stove in the basement.

> Three hundred years ago, full-time wives did about 60 hours/week of housework.

This is a woeful underestimate before labor saving machinery. Here is a talk about the $3500 Shirt and the fact that women spun thread in any idle time: https://www.sleuthsayers.org/2013/06/the-3500-shirt-history-... Here is a Hans Rosling visualization of wealth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

I remember a story about historian couple (sadly I can't find it) who tried to live like the 1880's.

The husband basically came home completely exhausted every single day. The wife, however, literally broke down because the housework was completely relentless. She was completely busy maintaining the household every single waking moment.

Big families weren't just because of lack of birth control.

The book is called "More work for mother" because a lot of labor saving devices saved male labor by making the work physically less demanding and allowing it to thus be shifted to the wife.

Three hundred or so years ago, most couples were literally working to put food on the table and keep people clothed. They did so by raising their own food and sewing their own clothes, etc. Standards of living were generally lower.

Over the course of that 300 or so years (because I probably read the book around two decades back), cash money became more common and so did working for cash money instead of laboring to grow your own food, make your own clothes, etc. So labor saving devices shifted a lot of household tasks to women in order to free men up to go get a paid job. This made sense so women could be home with the children since they are the ones that get pregnant and also produce milk.

Men used to pull up the rugs and beat them one or more times per year. Then we invented vacuum cleaners and women took over cleaning the rugs.

Women and men were both often very overworked, but it's possible that the historian couple saw the wife collapse in part because a lot of what we classify as women's work today was handled by male labor at one time and in part because standards of living were generally far lower back then. Trying to maintain anything resembling our current standards without modern labor saving devices is crazy on the face of it. If, on top of that, you expect the woman to do a lot of chores that would have been male labor at one time, yeah, you are going to run someone into the ground.

Back when I used to read such things, studies typically found that women with children were chronically short of sleep whether they had paid jobs outside the home or not. People generally underestimate how much work homemakers are doing. Friends and neighbors routinely demand "favors" because they see a homemaker as someone who has nothing but leisure time on her hands, not someone busy cooking, cleaning, buying groceries, etc all day long.

In my marriage, I also saw evidence that my husband had no real appreciation nor respect for the amount of work I did as a full-time wife and mom. It is one of the reasons we are divorced.

So I'm abundantly familiar with the fact that most of the world underestimates how much work women typically do, dismisses it as "not real work" because you are just supposed to be thrilled to pieces to be home with your children, etc. But the book in question was a serious history book and was remarkably even-handed, which is one of the reasons I mention it relatively frequently. I don't like works that hate on men, that act like women are merely victims of the so-called Patriarchy, etc.

Definitely agree with most of the key points, but I do question the notion that men did all of the heavy labor.

Maybe in upper-class homes, but in the poorer families (which were most people), "women's work" was physically demanding... laundry was outright dangerous, for example.

but I do question the notion that men did all of the heavy labor.

There is no point at which I suggested that. In fact, I made some effort to try to guard against such an interpretation.

But let me reiterate some of my main points in nutshell form:

1. Men and women both worked physically hard. (I stated that previously as: Women and men were both often very overworked.)

2. Some tasks that are currently viewed by a lot of modern peoples as "women's work" would have been "men's work" about 300 years ago, such as cleaning the rugs.

3. It would be super easy to run someone into the ground by having one person try to maintain our current high standards for quality of life via manual labor.

4. I can see that easily being made worse by not doing your due diligence and determining that some of our current "women's work" was "men's work" when it was all done by manual labor.

It in no way requires any inference that women did no heavy labor to see that just piling more and more work on a woman without in some way making those tasks more manageable simply would not work.

> It in no way requires any inference that women did no heavy labor to see that just piling more and more work on a woman without in some way making those tasks more manageable simply would not work.

Certainly don't mean that -- I think if anything the physical toil that women traditionally did in my grandparent's lifetime, especially given the challenges of health, etc is very much under-realized.

Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson talks in depth about the life of ranch families in the Hill Country of Texas, and about the deep impacts that things like electrification had on those families. Personally, I found it moving and it painted a picture of life that family lore, etc just didn't capture.

I would be very surprised if anyone in my household did more than 15 hours/week of housework. We did a lot more with babies and toddlers around, but they can clean up their own messes now, and have been trained to poop, pee, and vomit into the approved receptacles.

A lot of the stuff people do as routine housework simply doesn't need to be done more often than quarterly.

Perhaps those people doing 60 hours/week in 2019 don't have the temperament to just sit on ass and enjoy all the machine-assisted, low-maintenance living?

Throw the clothes in the washing machine, and push the start button. Push the start button on the carpet-cleaning robot. Push the start button on the floor-mopping robot. Move clothes from washer to dryer and push start button. Put ingredients in bread machine and press start. Put entire meal in microwave and push start button. Put dishes in dishwasher and push start button. Hop on motorized treadmill and push start. Flop in massage chair and push start. Have problem; push button; no problem.

People have more time now, and they invent new things to do to fill it. If you only want to do 10 hours a week in housework, all you need do is lower your standards to whatever the machines do for you without supervision. Toss out some ant/roach bait and buy some spray-can air freshener. Avoid filth-producing pets or babies in your home. Substitute chemical engineering or electrical engineering for elbow grease. If you do almost any revenue-producing activity in lieu of housework, you will be able to pay for a pill-swallow, spray-on, or button-press solution to any routine housework problem.

Fold clothes and distribute them to the appropriate closets/dressers when the machine finishes, dislodge the carpet cleaning robot when stuck, fill the mopping robot with water and soaps, cook a decent meal that's not a microwave meal, put the dishes away in the cabinets and wash all the dishes which cannot go in the dishwasher (pots/pans, knives)

There's a lot more happening that you give credit for even when doing the minimum.

> Fold clothes and distribute them to the appropriate closets/dressers when the machine finishes...

Hanging a garment on a hanger is easier than folding it. Small clothes can be thrown into a "CLEAN"-labeled basket or bag. The laundry-person need not be responsible for restocking everyone else's wardrobes. You are inventing requirements for the task that are non-essential.

Essential laziness is rearranging your life such that the most labor-intensive parts of a task are unnecessary. The only thing that prevents the 3-pile method of wardrobe management (clean, dirty, and worn-but-smells-okay) is social pressure. And if you stop caring so much about what other people think of your lifestyle, but still care a little bit, you can replace the dresser with some postal-style plastic tote bins on a wire shelf: socks, underwear, jersey shorts, tee shirts. All your going-out clothes can go on hangers. No more folding.

A decent meal need not be haute cuisine. If you break your kids (or yourself, for that matter) of the "different foods can't touch" thing, you can make a lot of good stuff in a programmable pressure cooker/slow cooker. That's a single pot that doesn't exactly wash itself, but it is halfway to an autoclave already. Put plain water in it, select high pressure cook, and hit the start button. Pot sterilized. Add ingredients; beep beep boop, start. Dinner is done.

And maybe your dishwasher needs an upgrade. We put pots, pans, and knives in it all the time. The cast iron doesn't go in there, but that is all seasoned such that it just gets rinsed out and re-oiled, and is then clean.

Stop valuing things for the extra effort put into them, and start seeing human-required labor as an evil that should be destroyed. If you're doing 60 hours/week of housework, you aren't spending 1 hour/week thinking about whether all that "work" actually needs doing, or not.

Knives don't go in the dishwasher because they dull faster and I'd rather spend time washing them than time sharpening them. Post and pans in the dishwasher is just a waste of space. By putting one pot in there I can not put 6 plates. The pot is easy to clean, the plates are annoying.

I have to put things away because there's no room for the pile method. I share 4 ft of closet and a 4 drawer dresser with my wife. The rest of our bedroom is mostly bed area.

I cook meals because I'm lazy. Cooking cost less money. Microwavable meals mean I need to work more to pay for those meals which is something I don't want to do. Cooking saves me time in life by costing me less money.

My life is arranged around laziness but it is different laziness than yours.

You can optimize for time, or you can optimize for money. It's very rare to be able to do both.

Can you explain to me how a dishwasher makes knives dull, because I had not heard of this before now.


Also, if you have wood handles it'll ruin the wood.

It looks like no one in that thread could dig up any experimental evidence for it. Manufacturer recommendations are not to be trusted.

This looks like a job for some identical knives, some knife-use simulator robots, several dishwashers with a standardized typical load, hand-washing sinks, a pile of dishwasher detergent, a pile of hand-wash detergent, and an objective measurement device for knife sharpness.

My essential laziness (and lack of research grant money) prevents me from conducting the experiment myself, however. I'll just take my chances with the dishwasher.

I agree in general, but just a nitpick: When the $3500 Shirt article first went around in 2013, I saw several complaints that it was describing a very high-quality shirt. Typical peasant work wear was still very labor-intensive, but took a fraction of the time described.

I see the article says the math was updated in 2016, though, so I don't know how true that is now. And obviously that was only a part of a woman's overall workload, anyway.

60 hours a week? You think housewives are doing 8½ hours of solid house work every single day? Yeah, no.

You can bump up the level of housework pretty aggressively by making certain lifestyle decisions, which you may make unintentionally.

For example, decide you prize cleanliness, then get a pet animal that leaves hair everywhere. Have three children doing sports several times a week and wash all sportswear after a single use. Remember every friend and relative's birthday and send them an appropriate and thoughtful card or gift, not just cash or a gift card. Repair damaged clothes when you can, as it's cheaper and also environmentally friendly. Change bedsheets and clean the bathroom on a more regular schedule. Separate the recycling in excruciating detail. Join the housing association board because god knows, someone needs to reign those idiots in. Accommodate fussy eaters by cooking multiple and sometimes complex meals, so you have to visit several supermarkets to get all the ingredients you need. Do nice and helpful things for other members of your community, to save up favours you'll be able to cash in later. Keep the garden looking nice. And of course you haven’t invited your friends to a dinner party yet...

Of course you don’t have to do this stuff, but if you’re looking at the subjects of an article about gender role performance, maybe you see it at a higher rate.

I guess you have some solid data to support that statement?

I unfortunately only have anecdotal evidence that 60h is not implausible.

Me and my wife have two kids and share most of the household work, it's not an even split (she does more). I would say that on average we both work from the time we get back home from work until the kids sleep, ~4hrs later. In addition to that, one of us probably spends some 30 mins each morning getting the kids ready for school. Saturdays and Sundays typically involve two cooked meals per day plus any bigger household work that the weekdays won't fit. So I guess we spend some 60h/week on chores.

Are we counting all time spent with children as a chore?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a father of two. Like you, our work is not split evenly, though I like to think I take on a higher share than most similarly situated men. There are times when my time with my sons can be trying, and I can get behind counting some fraction of that time as work.

On the other hand, just today my son and I spent three hours going to and from a playdate with a friend of his. I'm also friends with the dad. It was a pleasant time for all involved, and we got some sun and some exercise. This is not an atypical way for us to spend a Sunday afternoon. If this is accounted for as "work" then I would say the statistic is a bit misleading, as that is not something most people I know would consider labor.

And I also had a 3 hour meeting today with co-workers that I enjoy working with, solving a problem we all care about. That was work.

I'll be commuting home for an hour. That is work.

Tonight I'll be putting the kids to bed, then tidying up the kitchen. That is also work.

I think it is fair to say, that as an adult with kids, much of your time that you aren't doing something just for you, will to a degree be work. And that is OK. As long as you and your partner are happy with the split you have, then that is OK too.

It's a fuzzy area. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. When we do something together that I also enjoy, then it isn't. When it's about something he wants and I'm just there because I need to be while I'd rather be doing something else, then it's a chore.

I don't think there's any way to objectively measure that.

It's tricky is distinguishing between necessities, expectations, and personal preferences.

For example, it is undeniable that you've got to eat. You can get some tolerable food on the table in 15 minutes (e.g., ramen, Kraft Dinner). Adults, especially with kids, are usually expected to serve a wider variety of foods, especially healthier ones (~45 min to prepare?). Of course, you can also spend all day in kitchen making beef wellington and homemade bread. In the latter cases, some of that time is a "chore", but some of it is also essentially a hobby. Likewise for gardening, auto maintenance, and even keeping the house absolutely spotless strikes me as a kind of (odd) hobby.

Are programmers doing 60 hrs of work a week? Yes, if you count planning, talking about work to be done, thinking about work to be done, commuting (s/buying groceries, shuttling kids), mentoring, dealing with other people’s complaints & personal issues, dealing with red tape (forms to be signed, reports to review & give feedback on), etc, etc, etc

You can say those analogues fall outside of “housework” ... sure, but then it’s like “hey programmer, you’ve got 60 hours in the week, why isn’t that feature done yet?”

So basically: if you totally redefine the definition of the word work than it's true.

I'm going to second that I'm incredulous.

If only I could bill for thinking about work.

Also if raising your own family is "work" what isn't work? Yeah and me going snowboarding is just emotional labor to prepare for the work week so let's call that work.

I’m just gonna pass on the family comment, but I’ll just say if you bill by the hour and don’t bill for time thinking about the (programming) work, then you’re playing yourself

I mean, I don't bill per second of keyboard contact. If I'm at my computer focused on the project then I'm billing.

But if I'm in the bathroom at night and something clicks or I'm thinking about a problem during a meal, I'm not gonna bill for that.

> Are programmers doing 60 hrs of work a week? Yes, if you count planning, talking about work to be done, thinking about work to be done, commuting (s/buying groceries, shuttling kids), mentoring, dealing with other people’s complaints & personal issues, dealing with red tape (forms to be signed, reports to review & give feedback on), etc, etc, etc

So, no then.

So, yes.

Unless you are very junior, you

1) have to do those things

2) are paid for the time spent doing them

3) will not keep your job long if you simply neglect them or refuse to do them

I'm honestly baffled by these responses.

I'm pretty senior and I barely think about work outside my forty hours a week of in-office time. An hour or two a week, most weeks, I'd guess. Maybe your experience is just different from other people?

I find the 8 1/2 hours a day statistic to be perhaps true, since some types of work expand to fill the time allotted. I don't believe the 5.7 hrs a day statistic for working moms, though. That would imply that a working mom spends essentially every waking, non-commuting hour working on housework during the week, then six hours each day on the weekend.

40 vs 60 hours isn't really the issue. It's: what counts as "work" to be included in the total, and more narrowly, what counts as "housework"?

My whole argument is that just as cooking, cleaning, and laundry shouldn't be all that's considered "housework"; coding, deploying, etc aren't all there is to "work" as a programmer.

I think "homemaking" makes the distinction clearer in the narrow case. In the larger sense, I'm just saying that "work" isn't just what's on your job title or how you'd describe yourself, e.g. "coder", but "all of that which is necessary to fulfill your duty".

I think there are a large number of working moms who'd agree with the statement, taken not literally but also not hyperbolically: "I spend essentially all my waking non-work time on homemaking (housework + parenting)"

I'm not making a squishy argument about "emotional labor" either, but if it means anything at all, it definitely includes attending to the emotional needs of your children & partner

At a certain point people are voluntarily choosing to take on certain responsibilities and workloads. Why is society supposed to care that people are choosing a particular labor intensive standard of living?

I'm very senior and I only work about 30-40 hours a week max. It's called work/life balance.

I do the same thing. I work 4 days a week, to spend one weekday (as well as the weekend, of course) with the kids.

Still, my wife regularly points out that I again forgot to do the laundry on that day off, and most of the time she still cooks that day. I want to, but still haven't fully picked up my share of the household work. And the worst part is that she still has to point this out to me.

I do better than most men and am still falling short.

This was exactly my reaction: I love my island, and I think the kids would eat there every meal if I didn't like to make a sit-down meal now and then. I've never found that the island acted as a stage, or that it interfered with my convenient triangle of sink-counter-stove.

I don't know what kind of poppycock this is trying to be, but there is no excuse for it.

I don't own a house, but I keep notes for what I will eventually (hopefully) look for and this kind of island is quite high on my wants-list.

I had the same reaction at the exact same point in the article.

Are couples out there really not sharing chore responsibilities? Maybe my wife just got lucky. Whatever.

In any case I don't see what the kitchen island could possibly have to do with it. I initially clicked on the article because I, a male, am excited about getting an island so that I can use it to cook for my family!

I agree with you and the parent post. I'm a husband who does most of the cooking and cleaning, and I couldn't live without a kitchen island. Also, I love having a big, open, combined cooking/dining/socializing space. My wife, and my mother (who does 100% of the cooking and cleaning in her family) both agree on all counts.

I do, however, think the author is making a reasonable point in general - but the specific example and the tone misfired.

TV shows and movies love kitchen islands because because you can have people moving around while interacting and the camera moving around them.

The article is not about interior design per se though, it is about characters in the HBO TV series "Big Little Lies", characterized through their homes. If you haven't seen the show the article probably makes little sense.

I think you're focusing too much on the women part? I see it as criticising the stage aspect: instead of being able to be secluded and focus on the task at hand in a practically small space, you are instead performing in a space visible to everyone which is much too big to be good for the actual task.

Practically everyone I know would rather have a larger kitchen and have conversation going on around the cooking. Who wants to be out there alone cooking? It's a nice activity together.

Much too big? Have you ever cooked for more than 5 people? Ya, maybe a gigantic layout isnt great for family dinners in the evening, but the moment you have a party it provides a great space to prep and layout finished foods.

i'm with you, despite that fact i've never in my life seen a kitchen island. i was opening the article to find an actual island :< got greeted to this dribble. :'D

I stopped at the same exact point.

I read through this a couple of times, and I still can't figure out its point beyond the idea that the author doesn't like kitchen islands/open floor plans, and even that I'm not sure of?

I've found to really like open floor plans and an open kitchen. When I visit my family, we tend to congregate in the kitchen as someone is cooking (or several of us are cooking) and we don't want them to feel left out. An open floor plan allows this.

When we go to someone's house that doesn't allow it, it tends to either a) divide people who are cooking and people in the living room, or b) have everyone in a small kitchen for socializing.

This article is a preference about interior design masquerading as a social critique.

It is a reviews of a popular TV show called "Big Little Lies". The writer is using the interior design of their houses to characterize the main characters.

Is is not really a critique of open kitchens, it is a critique of a character in the fictional show.

Thank you! As you can guess, I never have seen the show.

I'd love to have a kitchen island. Our house has a tiny kitchen, and everybody congregates there, so it's impossible to do anything without people constantly bumping into one another. I could say, "get out of the kitchen," but then I'm separated from the conversation. Then, somebody wants a drink, or a snack, or whatever, and they're all back in the kitchen again.

The island lets people socialize in the kitchen, which is where they want to be, without getting in the way of the cook.

I don't care about being able to hide the mess. The rest of the house is a mess.

"Over the decades, as versions of this housewife’s setup have eliminated dining rooms, pass-throughs, and farmhouse tables, the open-concept kitchen, centered around an island visible from all sides, has become not a labor-saving device but a stage on which (mostly) women are forced to perform."

Or...it's a convenient place to assemble ingredients away from the stove/oven area.

This is such an incredibly absurd reach I don't know where to begin. Yet another example of trying to garner clicks and views with provocative journalism.

This article is about a TV soap opera, and it might have been more obvious (and saved me a click) had the submitter not pointlessly altered the capitalization of the headline.

I read through the first quarter of it three times before I figured out that it's a confusing advertisement for a TV show rather than a discussion on the history of kitchen islands. I honestly couldn't find any useful information. It reads like it was written by a plausibly seeded neural net.

> As a portrait of modern family life, it is more than a little bleak—just like the show. The kitchen island is the new hearth, as the kitchen long ago replaced the living room as the center of the home.

Modern? Many families have elevated the kitchen to main room status for generations.

Sitcom actors are always more attractive than normal people, and the sets they act in are usually way up there in terms of what it would cost to actually buy a house like that. It's because TV is aspiration with a little (a lot) of consumerist guilt mixed in.

I think it has less to do with anting to be aspirational and a lot more to do with how sets are decorated. Take an interior designer and give them an unlimited budget with the only requirement being it has to look good on camera and you’ll get amazing results every time. My house has bare walls because we don’t have a professional decorator. And everything else is slapdashed together because that is how real homes work.

Now logistics: you need space for cameras lighting and crew to move in. No way in hell is a multi camera show going to be shot in a real New York apartment kitchen. Walking through a real living room would have the camera operator bumping into all sorts of things. So homes and sets are huge. They aren’t filming bathroom confessionals.

In this case it is probably both. The show is about people with seemingly perfect lives which (spoiler!) has dark secrets which threaten to disrupt their lives. That kind of story just works better with beautiful perfect homes etc. since that makes the contrast and threat stronger.

In American sitcoms, yes. In British ones, not so much. It's a good thing.

Case in point: Friday night dinner[1]

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1844923/

> Sitcom actors are always more attractive than normal people

You mean 'actors are more' (no need for 'sitcom').

Most people in entertainment (maybe with the exception of musicians and radio personalities) are more attractive than normal people.

What I always find interesting though is when a prisoner is played by an actor. That is a big paradox.

Kitchen islands can reach epic proportions. I had to drop off a check to my realtor at another home where she was doing a open-house. The island in it had to have been 200 square feet of dark granite.

You would need a rail network to pass the salt. Even if it housed every labor saving device known to modern kitchen science, there still would have been room left over inside.

You would need a rail network to pass the salt.

So... I'd need a train set in the kitchen? This is not a downside.

All you need now is to get a lazy choochoo to replace the lazy susan in a show on HBO, and all the homemaker spouses will want one!

Hey everyone, before you comment: This article is a reviews of the HBO TV-show Big Little Lies. If you don't know or care about the show, the article will probably be of little interest to you.

HN seems to be interpreting the article as a general critique of open-plan kitchens. Apparently HN cares a lot more about kitchen islands than about mainstream TV-shows!

> Hey everyone, before you comment: This article is a reviews of the HBO TV-show Big Little Lies.

Thank you. This was rather odd without context.

> Apparently HN cares a lot more about kitchen islands than about mainstream TV-shows!

HBO is mainstream, now? I thought it was premium. Super-duper-premium, maybe.

Ah well. I suppose in a land where Netflix can make its own movies, HBO is positively dowdy.

That's a lot of words written about not a lot.

A century ago most housewives were farm housewives. The housewife on a pre-electric, pre-running water farm could not have spent 60 hours/week on what is now "housework", since considerable time had to be devoted to caring for the chickens; collecting and packing eggs; planting, weeding, harvesting the garden; canning vegetables and fruits; helping with the milking; helping with butchering chickens, pigs, and steers; etc.

On the other hand, multi-generational households were common, maiden-aunts came to stay and help, and neighborhood girls could be hired when needed. Neighboring housewives helped out when the threshing crew arrived and a dozen hungry men had to be fed a good meal.

Baths were Saturday night and clothes were washed Mondays for the simple reason that greater frequency was impractical, since water had to be carried from the well and heated on the wood stove.

A century ago most housewives were farm housewives.

You believe that in 1919, at the end of the first world war, and just 10 years before the Wall Street crash, most housewives lived on farms that didn't have electricity or running water? The population of New York city in 1919 was a little over 5.5 million people.

1919 is right on the cusp of when the US became majority urban.


And those people living outside the cities were unlikely to have electricity still

"by the 1920s electricity was not delivered by power companies to rural areas because of the general belief that the infrastructure costs would not be recouped"


I assume they did have some sort of running water in that they would have a well.

I stand corrected. The percentage in 1920 was about 30%. However, another large slice, probably over 20%, lived in rural small towns and villages where life wasn't much different.

The Rural Electrification Act was signed in 1936. Before then, in 1930, only 3% of farms had electricity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Electrification_Act

Electric motors are needed for inexpensive running water systems in order to drive pumps able to pressurize the system. There were gas engines used to drive pump jacks a couple decades before. There were also "Delco Plants" and batteries for local generation and DC electricity distribution on farms, but I don't think they were widespread. Mom's Maytag washing machine originally had a Briggs & Stratton gas engine that was replaced by an electric motor after REA was implemented.


More importantly, farming started out as the occupation of 90% of the population in the US and has been continuously falling ever since. The total number of farms grew up until about 1950, but as a share of the population it was only in the low 30% range at that time.

Source: https://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/farmers_land.htm

I hate open kitches and I really hate large islands that are sort of intended to be used for eating at. They are not nearly as comfortable to eat at as a table.

When the author mentioned the “messy kitchen” I thought it was a joke. Now I realise, as a European, that American house design is just absurd form over function. If you need a second, practical kitchen to deal with your main kitchen not being usable for its ostensible purpose then something is horribly wrong.

This is a straw man and a half. She literally gives a single example of this and implies it's normative

Do you really think this is normal?

The idea of a "messy kitchen" certainly exist in Europe, see Scullery: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scullery It is not a new invention.

In NL we've got the "bijkeuken". Modern homes rarely have them, but old farm houses almost always do.

Our new house incidentally does have one, which is indeed messy, and mostly used to store kitchen equipment we rarely use, as well as all the kitchen machinery, including the water kettle and coffee maker, that we don't want in plain sight. Apart from making tea and coffee, we don't do any actual work there, though. The real kitchen is still messy, because that's where the real cooking happens.

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