English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Category: Review Topic 5 Page 2 of 5

Fresh Off the Gender Representation

Episode 7 of Season One of Fresh Off the Boat is called “Showdown at the Golden Saddle” and is about Eddie trying to get the neighbor, Nicole’s, attention. Compared to the previous episodes in season one, this one gives much more agency to Nicole. Nicole is no longer just a character that reacts to Eddie’s remarks but now also interacts with him. Though Nicole is a more developed character in this episode she is still portrayed as a prize, mostly due to her appealing physical appearance. This is reasonable as the whole show is supposed to be from the perspective of Eddie who is still a young boy.

The show still does a good job of incorporating other active female characters such as Jessica and her best friend Honey.  Jessica is the alpha of the family who always makes significant decisions that impact many of the other characters. As Eddie said in this episode, “The tough guy in my family had always been my mom” referring to Jessica. Not only is she a prominent female character, Jessica also facilitates the representation of Asian Americans. Even though the whole show revolves around race representation, Jessica is a prominent character that holds up certain stereotypes while dismantling others.

Even though the show does a really good job of representing the male and female genders, it does not have much gender spread beyond that. There have been zero characters so far that identify with a gender other than these two. However, it is still early in season one so there is a possibility that such characters will be represented later on.

 

These iconic nicknames show how Jessica is represented as an equal with Louis.

 

Grace and Frankie’s Portrayal of Genders

The gender spread of the show is pretty evenly sampled. We can see that Grace and Frankie, two of the main characters are females, as Robert and Sol, the other two main characters, are male. Furthermore, we can see that the secondary characters are also evenly spread out. For example, Robert and Grace have two daughters, while Frankie and Sol have two sons. However, Grace and Frankie tend to get more representation and air time than other characters, given that the show revolves around them and their struggles.

These are the four main characters of the show.

The show does revolve about the main decision of Sol and Robert to come out and proclaim their love towards each other. Grace and Frankie do have to react to this decision at first. However, after this main decision, the show turns its attention to decisions that Grace and Frankie make. The show still puts some attention on the decisions made by Sol and Robert, but the main scope is now with Grace and Frankie.

Furthermore, the show connects the genders it represents to many other axes. We see how the two male lead characters are homosexuals, and the two female lead characters are heterosexuals. This allows for representation of multiple sexual orientations. Furthermore we see some representation of mental illness. This is because one of Sol’s and Frankie’s son is a alcoholic and drug addict.

The show however fails to represent some axes. The show does include one African American character, but beyond that, the show lacks proper racial representation. Furthermore, the show focuses on highly upper class characters. So far all of the characters that have appeared on the show belong to very high socio-economic status. Additionally, the show has yet to show any major character with any disability.

Here we see how the cast of the first season is mostly Caucasian.

Although the show has some shortcomings in representations, I think this show represents pretty well the genders it shows.

 

Examining the Role of Women in the Labour Force According to the Ideals of Fresh Off the Boat

Within this episode, Jessica attempts to leave her life as a stay-at-home mom behind and join the workforce as a realtor. However, after her first attempt at the realtor licensing exam, she realizes that re-entering the workforce will be a much tougher nut to crack than she originally believed. One of the main challenges Jessica struggles with is her inability to accept the fact that she was a stay-at-home mom and has to cope with the struggles of others like her who have difficulty entering the work force. The difficulty within switching between the roles of motherhood to worker have long been a key issue in the battle for women’s equality within the labor market.

Jessica often aims to be the best at what she does, but she gives up easily when she faces opposition.

As the episode continues Jessica pretends to have earned her realtor license so as not to lose the respect of her husband, family, and friends and struggles with the concept of heavy competition within the workforce and her desire to avoid the label of stay-at-home mother. After hiding from her family and friends to pretend to be working she realizes that she will only be fulfilled once she has begun to work and is able to compete with the other realtors in the area.

Naturally this transition is one that must be balanced while Jessica maintains her duties around the home. It is her responsibility to both maintain her children’s grades and academic standing as well as to cook and clean around the house, which places a large amount of strain on Jessica. Due to her desire to work hard and to be better than everyone else however, she is able to overcome these barriers and maintain a healthy work-life balance that is often strained when beginning a new career. This episode highlights the difficult transition of women into the labour force as well as the rough odds of a woman being successful in the labor force when burdened by a family.

The Bigger Female Picture

After watching through most of the first season of Orange is the New Black so far, it’s safe to say there is a very diverse and intriguing representation of genders and how they clash with other categories such as sexuality and disabilities. The show starts off with Piper and her fiance, Larry. This show is mostly dominated by female characters, as the only male characters introduced in the show are Larry, the prison guards, and the alpha prison watcher. There are only two genders represented on the show being male and female, and no others present. As a result of so many female characters on the show, there is a wide variety of global categories distributed between.

For the male characters, they tend to all act dominant and controlling. Larry expects Piper to go into prison and come out bruise-free. He planned on marrying Piper originally, and didn’t realize that Piper would be faced with so many obstacles. Larry thought it was not fair for him, so he ended the relationship temporarily with Piper because of her struggles. With the prison guards like Porn-stache, they are all attempting to be alpha and controlling all of the inmates to do whatever they please. Most of the officers are especially rude and do not bother with treating the inmates with any sense of respect. All of them are heterosexual and act like typical gender stereotyped males.

For the female characters, they take on a wide spectrum of personalities and attitudes. Every female prison inmate has differing characteristics, whether it’s the way they act, their orientation, or upbringing. Most of the females in the prison are heterosexual and come from a significant other before going into jail. However, there are a select few that are homosexual, and several that have mental disabilities. It’s interesting to see the culture of religions, orientation, races, and attitudes clashed in the same department and how the inmates interact/react to each other’s actions. Overall, the situation of Piper and the obstacles she has to face encountering new environments every day makes the show constantly fun to watch.

Larry and Piper before Piper leaves for prison.

Your Worst Nightmare- If You’re a Woman

Anyone who’s read, watched, or even heard of The Handmaid’s Tale knows how horrifying Gilead is for the Handmaids. These women had a normal life before, but suddenly they are thrust into this new world in which so much progress is gone, society reverted to a place even worse than the past.

It’s almost impossible to believe that this show takes place in the present. We view progress in human rights as upwardly linear, even exponential, but The Handmaid’s Tale expresses how easily fear and misuse of power can take everything away from women and other minorities. Although the whole structure of society has been redesigned in Gilead, the cause and effect of this change is due to women’s supposed infertility. Birth rates dropped steeply in the past, causing fear that led to men blaming the women and creating the concept of Handmaids.

Gender plays a big role in our world today, but in Gilead, it dictates everything. Most of the men are Guardians, Commanders, or Econopeople. They form the backbone of society and pick what the women’s roles are. They own property, basically including women, have jobs, and are able to live relatively peaceful lives. However, the women are Marthas, Handmaids, Aunts, Wives, Econowives, or Unwomen. Although some are more pleasant than others, none are happy. They lead lives decided by other people and suffer through both pain and boredom. Since this is the first generation of Gilead, these women live every day remembering the past but have to deal with the present. In Season 2, Episode 11, June goes into labor and remembers her past experience with her first child. An experience in which she was surrounded by those who loved her, doctors, and good conditions. Now, she has to give birth alone with no drugs, doctors, and without any emotional support. However, she uses the memory of her past with her first birth and numerous Handmaid’s births to get her through it. These paralleled experiences show the new reality these women have to face with no way out- not even a quick death is guaranteed.

Close to escape, June goes into labor and must give birth alone and fire flares to make sure her baby will be safe.

Even though the Handmaids go through day after day of emotional and physical abuse, in Gilead, they are seen as those who have been given a second chance. Aunts try to brainwash them into believing that they this providing for the world is a privilege and that they should be grateful. Men, like priests and homosexuals, who didn’t fit Gilead’s rules were executed while fertile women involved with religion or lesbians were given this second chance. Although many factors influence one’s experience in Gilead, gender plays as the most major role, with neither outcome being favorable. Which outcome is better? Debatable.

How to Represent Gender in a World of Fake Humanity

In the world of fake (and immoral acting) human beings that is WestWorld, it may be hard to find the importance of gender representation. It may seem like a small factor when we’re dealing with some of the worst of humanity, but nonetheless, it’s extremely critical. And just how the writers of WestWorld choose to portray gender makes it enhance the show more altogether.

WestWorld doesn’t really touch much on the gender spectrum, however, the show has fairly equal representation. Interestingly, we see how park administration is fairly split between males and females, along with the artificial humans in the park itself. However, it is also important to note how most of the visitors to the park are male. Is this because, stereotypically, men are seen as being the more violent, risky, and immoral ones? This was likely a question the writers of WestWorld had to confront as they chose who to chose in the position of “visitor”.

The park in WestWorld is run logistically by the headquarters, where WestWorld’s operations control center, security, “manufacturing” and research and development is housed. The division of leadership here is actually quite gender diverse. The head of the park is an older man, who co-started the park with another man named Bernard. Our head of what appears to be research and development is also a man, but has a fairly diverse team working under him, including a savvy coder/developer who investigates and discovers troublesome park corruption. The leader of what appears to be the more “logistical” branch of the park (dealing with safety, budgeting, and the efficiency of the park) is an often unwavering and determined middle-aged woman. The representative of the board of directors is a younger woman, who is quite bold and even reckless when it comes to getting the board’s way. All of these characters are deeply involved in the running and logistics of the park, making major decisions which greatly impact the storyline. Our two most important and intelligent humanlike droids, Dolores and Maeve, are both women whom begin to determinedly question and upset their roles as robots as they question their own roles and cross the lines between robot and human, while most of the male droids appear to sort of “go along for the ride”. This is interesting to see, as many of the important plot points in the show are driven by the decisions or impacts of female characters, who often stand up to an ironclad structure of workplace hierarchy or, in the robot’s case, oppression (whether or not you believe robots can be oppressed is up to you to decide).

Interestingly, we also see a large amount of diversity at play in the show. Many higher ups are POCs. The show seems to largely avoid race themes, except for those purposefully created as part of the park experience (for example, interactions with the Native Americans). In terms of class, we largely only interact with the wealthy. , as these are the only people able to afford the experience of WestWorld. It is important to note how most of these visitors appeared to be white. While the show seems to seek to discuss the AI debate more, it certainly includes some aspects of gender.

Theresa Cullen, one of the most important leads of the first season

Gender and other stereotypes on “Fresh Off the Boat”

Fresh Off the Boat gets better with stereotypes and gender representations as the series continues. However like many other shows, it doesn’t deal well with tropes, stereotypes, and genders during the first season. Starting the series off, there are 2 main male characters, Eddie and Louis, and 1 main female character, Jessica, along with two other boys, Emery and Evans, and grandma Huang. Jessica is a stereotype Tiger Mom pushing her children to perform well in academics. Jessica is a typical housewife staying home taking care of the kids and house chores. Louis is a typical male breadwinner of the household working each day and being away from home. In season 1 episode 9 “License to Sell,” Jessica becomes a realtor, selling houses, however, she still isn’t able to break away from being a housewife. Even though she has a career, Jessica only really sells house when her kids are at school despite how successful she is. Fresh Off the Boat does present us with the fact that Jessica is truly the head of the household, instead of Louis, as she is seen commanding everyone around.

Near the end of season 1 episode 3, we are introduced to Nicole who is the beautiful girl on the block that Eddie instantly falls in love with. In this episode, we are shown how Eddie considers women more like objects of attraction. First, Eddie wants to use Honey to show off to his classmates in order to get friends; then we see Eddie fall in Nicole simply because of her beauty. Both also dress in slightly revealing outfits. Then later we meet Connie who is Jessica’s sister, Connie then tells us how she got fake breast implants. Also when we meet the neighborhood women in the “Pilot,” they are all in a group skating around the neighborhood; it was quite obvious that all the women were housewives and whenever we see them it’s with Jessica not allowing us to see their daily lives.

In Fresh Off the Boat, nearly everyone is straight with the exception being Nicole; however, we don’t learn about this until a later season. The most notable episode, about this, in the first season is episode ten “Blind Spot.” This is where we learn of Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Oscar, who is gay. The problem with the shows portrayal of Oscar is that they seem to of use every gay stereotype in the book. Oscar first is given a short of accent, then we learn that he is auditioning for the Aladdin Ice Show Spectacular. Later when Oscar gets out of the shower, he is wearing a pink robe and a “gaysian” necklace.

One inclusion that is notable is including Grandma Huang backstory of foot-binding that shows us what women had to deal with in old China.

Jessica being rightfully prideful about being able to sell a house that no one has been able to sell before.

Eddie tosses coupons at Honey as if he’s in a gentleman’s club

Gender Representation in New GIRL

In New Girl, the gender spread is pretty balanced, with quirky Jess as the lead and her beautiful, smart and supportive best friend Cece along with the three roommates that Jess fights with, lives with and learns with. The only two genders represented are female and male whereas there are many more genders that could be represented. Technically, the male characters have more representation but this is balanced out by the fact that Jess is the main character and that the spotlight is always on her. In terms of agency, Jess is mostly able to make her own choices but it is also important to consider the fact that Jess cannot usually act on her desires sometimes. This is shown by the fact that the other characters, both Cece and her male roommates have to sometimes push Jess to do things and stand up for herself. Nick seems to make decisions in a more low-key way contrary to characters like Schmidt. This show also does not really connect gender to race as much as other shows usually do. Race and gender representation do not really correlate in this show as the amount of representation a character has is usually not dependent on what race they are. Sometimes when watching an episode of this show, class and gender representation is sometimes a connection I make. Characters like Schmidt who obviously makes more money than his roommates sometimes has an attitude of superiority over his female and male counterparts.

Jess being a boss.

Also, since everyone in New Girl is heterosexual, there isn’t any discrepancy in the representation that every character gets as there lacks diversity in sexuality.  Disability and Mental illness are also not addressed much in this show, as it usually tries to keep a very light mood throughout the episodes. Heavy issues aren’t discussed usually in this show. Overall, the gender representation is pretty balanced out of the episodes I have seen thus far.

Jessica Huang, the star of the show

The show is based off Eddie Huang’s memoir: Fresh off the Boat, and focuses around Eddie’s family life in Orlando. Most of the characters in the family are male, along with Jessica, grandma, and Connie; nonetheless, Jessica plays one of the biggest roles in the show and is one of the main female focuses. This blog post will focus on how Jessica is represented on the show and how she is compared to the other female characters.

 

Gender roles were relatively static and there wasn’t too much gender spread across the show, Jessica was first portrayed as a housewife who depended on Louis to earn money and support the family. However, she soon because a realtor and began her own career. Jessica was able to utilize her negotiation skills to become a successful realtor and broke away from the housewife role she was originally put in.

 

Throughout the show, we saw that Jessica was at the center of the family and sets the rules of the house. Yet at times we saw that even Jessica needed a vacation and support from the other family members. Many of the episodes were focused on Jessica’s struggles, fears, and conflicts and how the family was always by her side to help her through tough times. Fresh Off the Boat portrayed Jessica as a powerful woman, challenging the stereotype of a stay-home housewife.

 

Compared to Jessica, the other moms in the neighborhood seem to be underrepresented. The roller-skating moms were mostly shown in gossip scenes and Honey is portrayed as a trophy wife, with their husbands being country club members. The difference in female representation is mostly due to the focus of the show; as it is based on Eddie’s memoir, the main focus is on the Huang family, rather than the neighbors.

 

Jessica is very well respected by everyone in the show as well as the audience, her strong and independent personality allows her to be the center of the family while she also shows her weaknesses. This particular representation drastically changed the show dynamic and made each episode much more interesting to watch. 

Jessica’s parenting style

Power of the Uterus

If this were review topic six, six would have been our lucky number. Season six, episode six, Orange is the New Black creators sure know how to make women powerful.

When you have a show about lesbian mastermind criminals under the supervision of officers that are female which are under directors that are also female, you have a sort of power struggle. Even though it is just one gender, the gender is broken into different dynamics. For example in the first two minutes of the episode we are shown four characters: Daddy, Daya, Barb, and the blonde girl (acts as the messenger and one of Barbs servants). Usually in shows, the male presence dominates the female presence however there are no males so we are conflicted with who is in power here. Ultimately Barb is the head of the entire C block because of the superiority she gained when she first entered max. Then we have daddy, the butch lesbian with more manly attributes than the rest and obviously the dominant sexually, which makes her struggle to earn power understanding. Then we have Daya and the blonde girl which are on slightly different levels because of the feelings Daddy has for Daya.

Daddy and Daya showing the simplest affection at the beginning of the episode

Regardless of the position of the prisoners, we still have the position of the prison guards who execute their dominance for more reasons than one and MCC corporate staff that but heads when dominance is taking place.

Let’s examine the interaction between Linda and Natalie. It is obvious that there is a mutual dislike between the two of them and for obvious reasons *cough cough Joe* however one does dominate the other and maybe it is that Natalie does not respect Linda’s position because she lacks the ability to do her job efficiently that they bud heads. However in this dynamic between the two women, the superior seems to be the submissive woman in this interaction.

This display of power within the gender is interestingly depicted by the writers of the episode. There are some many types of girls that it gets confusing who is dominating and who is submissive and why this is taking place. There is no perfect way to set up a sort of “food chain” of power however in scenes it is obvious who is powerful and who isn’t. Without regards to any men, I think that Orange is the New Black efficiently depicts some badass women that can stand alone without the presence of male dominance.

Gender Representation in Crazy Ex Girlfriend

For a show that is largely focused on two female characters, Crazy Ex Girlfriend sure does have a lot of men. This may seem like an obvious conclusion, as the show is mostly about the romantic travails of the straight female main character, but the abundance of male characters isn’t just limited to Rebecca’s boyfriends. In Rebecca’s work, the only character that has any depth and storyline (aside from Paula, who doesn’t really count since she is the other main character of Crazy Ex Girlfriend) is her male boss, Darryl. While Darryl is bisexual, making him a type of male character that doesn’t get enough representation, the females of the office consist of neurotic Karen, whose defining trait is that she talks too much about her personal hygiene, and Mrs. Hernandez, who is literally mute. Neither of those women get any real character development or insight, whereas Tim, one of the most bland annoying white men ever seen on the silver screen, gets a whole subplot related to his deep dark secret of being an illegal (Canadian) immigrant. Most of Rebecca’s friends are men as well: While she does eventually strike up a real friendship with her neighbor Heather, she spends most of the first couple of seasons attempting to be friends with White Josh, Greg, Hector, as well as two other bros that are so bland I can’t even remember their names as I write this.

This discrepancy isn’t limited to Rebecca’s life, either. Though two mothers are introduced (Mrs. Bunch and Mrs. Chan), and Rebecca’s mother gets one hell of a mother-daughter episode, the parental figures with the most real impact are the fathers. Greg’s father is the reason why Greg stays in West Covina, gives him relationship advice, and ultimately provides him with the means to escape California. Never an explosive figure like Mrs. Bunch, Mr. Serrano is nevertheless a constant presence whose character has more influence on the outcomes of the show. In contrast, Rebecca’s father Mr. Bunch manages to have more of an influence and development than his ex wife though having just a fraction of her screen time (which is already limited). Through flashbacks, we learn about the complicated father figure he was and how his influence continues to sway Rebecca into so many decisions throughout the course of the show. Both father figures certainly fare much better than poor Mrs. Chan, who is reduced to a traditional mother who loves the idea of her son moving back in, and who can always be counted on to do the cooking for family events. In the end, through her role as a conduit from Rebecca to Josh, it is how she is influenced by the main characters than her influence on them that really defines Mrs. Chan.

I find myself left with the question, why does Crazy Ex Girlfriend fall so short in female representation after breaking so many feminist boundaries?

“Oh my goodness, I get a line that isn’t about Josh or cooking??”

Women Rocking at Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy, with no hesitation, knows how to break and make up your heart (at the same time) in a blink of an eye. In other words, you never know what to expect. However, although this may be true 99 percent of the times, there is one enormous exception: Gender representation in the show.

Grey’s Anatomy is a series that encourages inclusion of all gender and sexual orientation. With this, both men and women are represented as equally important. Nevertheless, it is vital to highlight that female to tend to be reinforce as a strong and dominant gender throughout the entire series. An example of this can be seen on the fact that almost all head of surgical departments are women (Arizona Robbins- head of pediatrics, Meredith Grey- Head of general surgery, Maggy Pierce- Head of cardiothoracic surgery, Miranda Bailey- Chief), and most of the scenes are focus on what goes around the life of each of this characters (meaning that yes, female gender does receive a bit more of representation in the show).

Meredith Grey- happy and successful (the mirror image of how all women should feel about theirselves) 

Additionally, the now 15 entire seasons show, has always been centered in Meredith Grey, the protagonist. This is important as little by little we’ve seen the rite of passage she has gone through to become a strong and “bad-ass” women. Since the beginning, Meredith felt that she was under the shadow of her famous mother and her successful lover, however, the producers have made a great job of allowing her to see that she is actually the sun of her own life and that she’s capable of everything, which is something all women should learn from and act upon it.

In general, not only Grey’s Anatomy, but Shonda Rhymes as a whole, does a great job in exhibiting female gender as strong, important, and powerful as male. Knowing this, we shall not take this representation slightly, we should reflect on it and try to act based on the things we’ve learned from it.

Not Just a Housewife – Fresh off the Boat

Even though “Fresh off the Boat” is written about Eddie Huang’s life, I believe that his mother is actually the main character. Most of the show’s plots are centered around some conflict related to her, or about some fear of her. So for this gender analysis blog, let’s take a look at the real main character of “Fresh off the Boat” – Jessica Huang.

There isn’t too much of a gender spread on “Fresh off the Boat” – a majority of the main characters are male, except for Jessica and Louis’s mother, Grandma Huang. Jessica is a house-wife turned real estate agent, but don’t let that fool you. She is far from a typical TV housewife – she is the matriarch of the Huang family. The entire family (except for Grandma Huang) lives in fear of her, closely following the boundaries and rules that she has set. Jessica is also a very powerful and capable character, frequently shown as naturally good at many skills and a hard negotiator. In spite of her toughness, the show also demonstrates that she is capable of putting her tough love aside to show warmth to her family. Her decisions and actions are the primary fuel for the show’s plots. So “Fresh off the Boat” did a great job in representing Jessica as a powerful female, but what about everyone else?

In terms of gender, there is little active representation beyond Jessica. The show only portrays males and females, and outside of Jessica, a majority of females depicted are the rather ditsy women that share the neighborhood. However, “Fresh off the Boat” shines in terms of merging race and gender. It’s the first ABC show to depict an Asian family as its lead, and while it is a Western stereotype that Asian women are quiet and submissive, Fresh off the Boat went out of its way to ensure that it would not contribute to this image in any form. Its lead female is respected by everyone, both in and out of her family, and the only person she somewhat fears is her mother-in-law. Thus, even though “Fresh off the Boat doesn’t extend its arms into many other representational axes, it did a fantastic job in what it did choose to represent. It broke stereotypes and created one of the most iconic families to currently exist on ABC, and showed that being a housewife is anything but a sign of weakness or incapability.

It was very early in the show, but this scene is a perfect demonstration of how Jessica gets stuff done.

Dr. Model in Grey’s Anatomy

One of the major aspects of Grey’s Anatomy is that it features a female lead who is independent and intelligent. This in itself is a move towards equality in television. In episode 4 “No Man’s Land”, gender issues over capability and appearance come starkly into focus.

There has long been a divide between men and women on their expectations of what should or shouldn’t be done. The “double standard” is continually debated on and talked about. Some people don’t think that it’s real or anything to be concerned with. The writers of Grey’s Anatomy took a very definitive stance on this issue in episode 4. One of the interns, Izzie, is attending a middle-aged man who needs a biopsy for his prostate cancer. The man refuses for her to be near him during his surgery or even to attend to him because he has seen her photos in a modeling campaign. It turns out that he is attracted to her and didn’t want Izzie to see his prostate surgery. This reasoning is reasonable in some ways, especially since it is the patient’s choice. However, the other interns treating Izzie differently due to her photos is presented in a different way.

One of the pictures of Izzie modeling that was posted on the elevator doors.

Alex, a male intern, posts Izzie’s pictures all around the locker room and calls her “Dr. Model”. Izzie, however, retaliates by saying that due to those pictures she was able to graduate debt free. There is certainly the implication, also, that if one of the male interns were to have a similar set of photos or something sexual in nature published about him, it would have been applauded. For Izzie however, being both attractive and a surgical intern is seen as an impossibility.

Grey’s Anatomy has taken on a strong position on this issue. They make it out that Izzie should be celebrated both for her medical achievements and for being able to do what she had to in order to graduate without debt. It is clear from the show that femininity can be seen as a sexual thing without being demeaning to women. Gender should have no role in determining capability or in deciding which options should be open to different people.

Gender Norms and Culture- Sense8

Sense 8 is a very unique show. I’ve never seen a show that has so many subplots attached to the main plot. Eight different stories are told. Not just different in that different events are happening in each story, but different in almost every aspect. Each character has a unique cultural background that brings something unique to the show. These unique cultural backgrounds of the characters allow different gender norms to be represented from across the globe. Of the eight main characters there are 4 that identify as female and 4 that identify as male.

 

For an example of the way that gender is represented differently dependent on the cultural background of the character, lets compare and contrast the characters Sun and Lito.

Sense8 Season 2

Sun is a business women from South Korea but she has a secret hobby. She fights. Not just women but also men. She is tough and hard willed. Yet, she is always undermined by her father and brother. Even though her brother stole from her father’s company that she worked so hard for with no credit, Sun takes the blame so that her father’s company will not fall through. She is a woman that makes endless sacrifices and in part because of that she is strong. She is forced to fulfill a role she wasn’t meant to be in.

Lito is a male actor in Mexico that also has a secret. He is gay but must hide this from the public because of the machismo male culture of not only his country but the entertainment industry. He presents himself as this tough heterosexual male with a great body because, like Sun, that is what is expected. Both characters are tough because they are forced into a box they do not belong, yet they still conform to gender norms- much like us all.

 

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