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File:Stepford-wives-1975 4151.jpg

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; William Goldman'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 Endings.

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 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 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 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 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 come completely out of left field and contradict the rest of the movie, but as always, Your Mileage May Vary.

The orginal film/novel, and its sequels, provide examples of:

The 2004 version provides examples of:

 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?

 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.

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