Created and written by Sarah Dunn, ‘American Housewife’ is a sitcom that follows the life of Katie Otto – a wife and mother of three children – and her struggle as she tries to find a balance between what she needs to do for others and what she wants to do for herself. Having recently moved to Westport, Connecticut, Katie cannot relate to the other housewives who are conscious about their looks and their social image, but she has found friends in Doris (Ali Wong) and Angela (Carly Hughes).
Dunn has conceived the show, keeping the everyday woman in mind. Katie Otto’s (Katy Mixon) story in ‘American Housewife’ finds a place in many women’s lives as they live through the reality which usually did not find a place in mainstream entertainment, till this show came along. Could the series be based on real-life events? Well, we are here to address that question, but first, let us share with you what the series is about.
Is American Housewife Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘American Housewife’ is based on a true story. The series has been written by Novelist Sarah Dunn, who was a stay-at-home mother before the series. The characters are inspired by her life and those around her, although some parts of the series have been fictionalized for comic effect. Dunn has been honest about the resentment and frustration she has felt when she couldn’t help but compare herself with the other housewives in Westport.
The original title of the show was ‘The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport,’ which came from her own experience of becoming “the second fattest housewife in Westport,” where she lives with her husband – who is a journalist – and her two children. Being a mother to a person with Autism, Dunn feels a greater pressure to keep up with her son’s progress and be more present for him than her daughter.
Judgments and guilt associated with the mother of a person with special needs are even higher. In the series, her youngest child, Anna-Kat, is a person living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Being a ‘nourisher’ and ‘giver’ is almost taken for granted, so much so that often women put themselves after everyone else.
Through Katie’s story, Dunn has highlighted society’s negligence towards women’s role in the family and a household, showcasing how fair division of labor is absent even today. No matter which part of the world they live in, many women correlate with this situation as the responsibility of the kids and managing the household ends up falling into their hands even if they have a full-time job, just like their significant others.
Although one may choose to be more available for their children, it does not mean that they are happy about it all the time. Being able to talk about that in a safe space without being judged is one of the things that women all over the world would want. Ten writers work on ‘American Housewife,’ but Sarah Dunn tries to ensure that although there are aspects to the character that are not exactly likable, she wants to stay true to the “real” women.
The important decision to keep the central character, as one who is not “glamourous,” was a very conscious one. Katie Otto is, in a way, an “everywoman.” Dunn wanted to create a show for women who do not usually see themselves on-screen. In many of her interviews, she shared that while filming particular scenes of the show, women on the set ended up saying, “This is the story of my life.”
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