Q: Taming of the Shrew & Moonlighting

Had I three brains, I still could not understand one word of Shakespeare, but I muddled through too many of his plays from 9th-12th grade to list here. Anyway, Nick at Nite showed an odd “Moonlighting” episode where the characters act out “The Taming of the Shrew” (all in a boy’s dream as he prepares for a test on the play).

I pray thee, how accurate is the Moonlighting version? Is it really about equality between men and women as insisted upon by Kate, the “shrew”?

Me thinks it has been too many years to recall, and I googlith to find the best synopsis which, alas, is cut short never revealing the resolution to the plot.

  • Jinx :wink:

I should have said, is the play really all about equality between husband and wife, as portrayed on “Moonlighting”? Is that much accurate? - Jinx

Never read the play but I ‘know’ it is about gender roles and i think we probably end up with ‘Kate’ realising that she is happiest in the role of dutiful wife. For a synopsis try looking for the film 'Kiss me Kate" which was a hollywood version.

Shakespeare wrote with the idea that the “shrew” – the independent woman – is “tamed” – made to submit to her husband. Part of the joke was that Kate was so independent. By modern standards, it’s pretty sexist.

But it’s still a fun play.

Chuck’s right. The underlying current of the play is a monuMENTal justification for the subjugation of women.

But still fun. The parts where Kate is verballing beating the hell out of everyone are great. It’s pretty clear who the smart one is in the whole thing.

Of course, much of Shakespeare’s genius is in his language, not his plots, which were almost always borrowed from existing literary or dramatic sources. (Although he did change things around frequently.) Shakespeare’s language is not part of the Moonlighting episode.


You mean “Good Lovin” wasn’t sung at the Globe? Dang.


I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown.
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband’s foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready, may it do him ease.

That’s the shrew after her taming. Not exactly Betty Friedan…

Maybe it’s because I saw the Moonlighting ep before I ever head the play, but I never believed that Katherine really meant any of that speech.


I’ve seen stagings where it was all delivered with a sense of irony, as if publicly Katherine was giving in but privately she and Petruchio had mellowed into a frolicsome partnership. He’d grown to love her and she could accept his affection. It’s also been staged where in the end, she was like the recipient of a severe brainwashing and was nothing but a broken down automaton. And there are plenty of versions that are somewhere in the middle.