English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #English1102TVFem Page 1 of 4

An Ode to Greg

Having watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, there’s a lot I’ve taken away from the show, and there’s a lot I admire about it. One aspect I really appreciate, and which I’ll focus on in this blog post, is Greg’s character. Throughout season 1, he’s consistently been one of my favorite characters – if not my favorite – and that’s because I think he’s a complex, deep character.

One way this is true is that he’s unapologetically quirky, and yet his importance and relevance to the show aren’t negatively affected in any way because of that. The show is very good about organically incorporating his quirky personality into his interactions with the others, especially Josh and Rebecca. Perhaps the best way his quirkiness comes across is through songs he sings in. In “Settle For Me,” for instance, he’s suave and well-spoken for the most part, but he has moments where his awkwardness dominates the scene. Sometimes, it’s charming and clever:

I know I'm only second place in this game

But like 2% milk, or seitan beef,

I almost taste the same

Other times, it’s more grimace-worthy:

Don't make me feel like a little girl;

Exposed and raw, whose boobs can't even fill a training bra

...Let's pretend I didn't say that

Despite his quirky demeanor, though, Greg is not a character’s that lacking in struggle. He has several legitimate issues to grapple with throughout the show. He wavers on whether he should date Rebecca, which represents the larger problem of people struggling to leave and quit relationships that they know aren’t healthy for them. His parents went through divorce, and his commitment issues due to his fear of being left by the people he loves is proof of how the divorce still affects him. He also struggles with pursuing his dreams; while he was accepted into Emory, he was initially unable to go due to his father’s ailing health. While he eventually is able to attend Emory, this doesn’t change the fact that this was a difficult situation for him, and one of his solo songs – “What’ll It Be?” – does a great job of portraying his resentment and fear over the situation and whether he’ll ever be able to leave to go pursue his dreams.

In summary, I think Greg is a very dynamic character. He has a lightness and darkness to him that makes him a very realistic-seeming character, and it’s in large part because of this duality to him that he’s stood out as a highlight of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Works Cited:

“Settle For Me,” Genius, https://genius.com/Crazy-ex-girlfriend-cast-settle-for-me-lyrics

Who/What is normal?

For the fifth and the last Blog Entry, I am focusing on the writing of the “Normal”, the twentieth episode of season 1 of New Girl. It was written by Luvh Rakhe. He also wrote It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005) and A.P Bio (2018).

In this episode Jess brings her boyfriend Russell to the loft to meet her roommates. Her roommates and her boyfriend were awkward at first but then after talking for a while, they started bonding while playing True American, a drinking game. The next morning, Nick accidentally hurts Russell with the prototype of his idea for real apps. Russell leaves the house and Jess becomes disappointed.

The dialogue here is mainly the conversations between the characters. There is not much of a self-talk. This is important because it allows the viewers to make interpretation on the feelings of each characters and analyze it by themselves.

There were external references when Jess says act cool to her roommates. They think of what cool means to each of them and what they would do when Russell is in their house. After a couple of minutes, Jess says to them to act normal. The silences in this episode is to move from one scene to another. It is also used right before they started True American. This increased the tension of the game.

Jess, her roommates, and Russell playing True American.

I believe this episode stands out because it has a good sequence of introduction, development, turn and conclusion. At first there is a new person introduced in the relationship between Jess and her roommates. And then they get to know each other by playing True American. There is a turn when Nick accidentally hurts Russell, leading to Jess and Russell fighting and lastly, the conclusion where Jess and Russell make up. I think it is an intriguing way to engage the viewers by increasing the tension between the characters.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend and the Jewish Problem

When I started watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I was extremely excited to see Rebecca Bunch’s character, not only because of the way the show was lauded for portraying her mental illness, and her hilarious musical numbers, but also because of the simple fact that she was Jewish. I was excited to see a single Jewish woman at the helm of a show, and I assumed her Judaism would be a real part of her character, not just played for laughs. I was expecting another Mrs. Maisel, who fabulously combined the humor of Jewish life with actual insights as to what it means to be a Jew. I thought that with Rachel Bloom writing and portraying the character, who once wrote a whole Chanukah album entitled “Suck it, Christmas!!” that Judaism would be an integral part of Rebecca. But unfortunately, I was wrong.

Rebecca’s Judaism is exactly the kind of Judaism I see in sitcom characters everywhere: Full of family stereotypes, only relevant as a joke, and, don’t you worry, she still celebrates Christmas. Her Judaism really only comes out when she’s dealing with her obsessive and controlling mother (read: Jewish Mother stereotype to a T), waging a legal battle against her New York nemesis (read: Jewish American Princess stereotypes), or talking about all the bagels she eats (which, to be fair, bagels are pretty great). Other than that, Judaism has absolutely no meaning in Rebecca’s life. She observes no holidays, takes part in a “California Christmas” with seasonal cheer, and has no connection to a Jewish community beyond her mother. In a word, it’s disappointing. 

Rebecca isn’t even an accurate depiction of most Jewish millennials. While many don’t attend synagogue on the regular, or ever, there is still a strong sense of community that drives young Jewish adults together and causes them to seek each other’s company. I know many Jews who were brought up with no religion, and yet strongly identify as Jewish and regularly attend non religious Jewish events. What makes Rebecca’s character truly sad to me is that she’s not accurate- she’s palatable.

When I say palatable, I mean specifically to Gentile audiences that have no idea of Judaism beyond Chanukah, the Holocaust, and a few odd jokes and stereotypes. Rebecca makes no jokes about being Jewish that run any danger of being incomprehensible to Gentiles. Her ethno-religious background is simply a font of jokes, as significant as any other small quirk.

I don’t know why, but it seems that Jewish writers, the ones that rightfully should be creating a diversity of Jewish characters, can only seem to write us in generalities calculated to appeal to anyone but us. 

“Do you mean to tell me you’re trading 8 nights of presents for just one? What the hell is wrong with you??”

Part Of The Resistance: How Broad City Tackles The Current Political Climate

Broad City is a show known for its absurd sense of humor that plays well with its demographic of millennial viewers. But with this off-brand sense of humor, the show tends to not cover critical current events that happen around us. That changed when the fifth episode of Season 3, titled “2016,” aired in early 2016.

While Broad City is not usually known as a deep show that tackles current issues on a large scale, the creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer decided to chime in by creating an episode based on the 2016 election. This episode is pivotal for the show, not only for its cameo appearance of Hillary Clinton herself, but also because it signifies a tremendous shift of the tone and mood from what the show initially conveyed.

Hillary Clinton’s cameo appearance on Broad City

In “2016,” Ilana stumbles upon the HRC headquarters in New York when she picks up a job being a bike messenger. Ilana adores powerful feminist icons, and she holds Hillary Clinton to an almost deity-like stature, so she decides to quit and volunteer for the campaign. At the end of the episode, Hillary Clinton walks into the room to meet the girls, and Abbi and Ilana, for the lack of better words, lose their shit.

After this episode aired, there were speculations as to why Hillary chose this show to cameo on, but it does bring up a point that relates to Broad City’s unique demographic of young, female viewers. Maybe her cameo was to boost her exposure and likability among young voters, but maybe this appearance was a way for the creators to show their support for her campaign in the upcoming election. Besides the speculation, “2016” was a pivotal episode for the show, but it was not entirely intentional.

Many did not see Hillary losing the election, especially Abbi and Ilana, so when the show came back for a fourth season, Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters surprisingly matured from their pasts of being absurd yet optimistic about the future. This maturity and part-of-the-resistance tone is evident throughout the fourth season, especially in the second and eighth episodes. The second episode of Season 4 opens with Abbi and Ilana wearing the pink Women’s March hats as they guide women through protests to the Planned Parenthood clinic. The eighth episode has Ilana seeing a sex therapist because she cannot have sex ever since Trump became president.

Abbi and Ilana escorting women to Planned Parenthood

Ilana going to sex therapy

These examples highlight the hysteria around the 2016 election, and the results have created a polarized atmosphere where the young people are increasingly resisting and opposing the current administration. Therefore, it is key to note that Broad City has taken a step back from their comedic absurdity in order to shed light on the atmosphere of the country after the election, especially for their demographic of millennial viewers. The show as a result has become a beacon for the millennial psyche of resistance, which makes Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters much more relatable, real, and funnier than before.

Talk the talk

Let me start by saying I can’t believe this is my last blog post.  This semester has flown by quicker than I could have ever imagined.

In today’s blog I’m going to discuss something that always interests me in television (and all types of writing): the manipulation of dialogue/dialect.  I’m going to look at the different ways the characters on the show talk and how that impacts what the writers are trying to say about each character.  Let’s start with Schmidt.

One thing I have noticed about Schmidt’s dialogue is that when he talks to talks continuously.  In the most recent episode, when he is running from the shower to his room he stammers “Nobody look.  Nobody look, yo.  Nobody look.  Seriously, no body is looking?”  This line makes it very obvious that Schmidt is super needy and always looking for attention.  I believe that’s why the authors always have him talking and yelling, ALOT, they’re making his (attention hungry) personality evident.

Nick is actually very different from Schmidt in this regard.  When Nick talks he somewhat rambles and trails off in his sentences.  What he says is usually pretty witty but it happens just fast enough for the audience to recognize it as funny but not long enough to gain attention.  For example, when Julia wants to go to his room he quickly says “Julia is about to be very disappointed.”  This line is witty and funny but the other characters brush it off and so does the audience.  I think this is done by the authors to shape Nick’s persona, funny but unnoticed.

Finally, let’s talk about Jess.  Anyone who has watched the show for more than 5 minutes will know that Jess speaks in a very high pitched voice and often does her own weird sing songy voices.  For example, when sitting in court Jess starts saying random lawyer jargon in her sophisticated voice.  I think the reason the author sets Jess up with this high pitched soft voice is because Jess really is a nice person but also because her voice can sound child like and a lot of the time in the show she comes across and innocent and naive, like a child.  The reason she uses so many impersonations is because most of the time she has a hard time expressing her emotions, like the awkward courtroom scene, so she resorts to her own humor.

I love how these different dialogues all fit together so seamlessly to create a well flowing show but they also have specific purposes to guide the audience to a specific idea.

Clever writing and great characters, ingredients for an amazing show.

 

 

What’s That I Spy? Character Growth

In this final blog post, I’d like to cover how New Girl flips the script on tropes regarding masculinity and femininity.  While Jess at first appears to be the epitome of the manic pixie dream girl trope, she is much more than a tool to get broody males to have more fun in their lives.  While the guys seem macho and aggressive at the beginning of the season, they have their own fears and insecurities that are not often portrayed on television.  Schmidt’s characterization in particular undergoes changes as viewers learn more about him and his flaws, from his douchebag jar to his body image issues.

Jess at her core: prepared to help

Admittedly Jess is quirky and childish, which somewhat fulfills the manic pixie dream girl trope, yet she is much more than that as a main character.  She is often the cause for more excitement and drama in the shared apartment, but she doesn’t solely exist for that purpose.  Jess has her own professional hopes and dreams as a schoolteacher and romantic goals in her search for a stable relationship so that her life doesn’t only revolve around her roommates.  In addition, Jess has her flaws with her eagerness to be helpful and is often seen as a pushover but grows as a person through becoming more tactful and willing to stand up for herself as the season goes on.  She goes from reluctant to confront Spencer, her ex-boyfriend, to standing up to Julia, Nick’s girlfriend, who puts Jess down for her bubbly demeanor and bright outfits.

When we first met Schmidt, he was arrogant and aggressively flirty to the point where he had his own douchebag jar for his inappropriate comments.  However, he soon reveals a softer side when he gives up his costume party to help a stood-up Jess.  Schmidt also ends up being the one who cooks and cleans, as revealed in episode 16, which are traditionally feminine roles that contradict his façade of traditional masculinity.  While Schmidt is often seen pursuing women, his actual relationships consists of him being in a more submissive role, as seen with his turbulent relationship with Gretchen and his later relationship with Cece.  In his relationship with Cece, Cece is the one with control, especially over the secrecy of their relationship.  While Schmidt acts affronted for having to be available whenever Cece calls, he bends to her demands and continues to stay in the relationship.  Their relationship dynamic differs from those often portrayed on television that have a power imbalance in which the woman lacks or has less control and influence in the relationship because of a difference in status or role.

Watching New Girl has been a highlight in my week with Jess’s quirks and the shenanigans that the characters get up to.  The show really succeeded in having characters that are genuine and unique in their relationships and flaws while inverting common tropes related to gender representation.

Kimmy Schmidt: Why it all Works

Kimmy Schmidt is a fictional plot about one girl who was kidnapped by a reverend when she was only 13 years of age, kept in a underground bunker for 15 years convinced that there was no life above her and that everything she previously knew and loved had perished in an apocalypse. She then is found and rescued by the U.S. government at the age of 28 and must live without any source of viable income in the cutthroat city of New York, where she is constantly deceived by others who try to con her money or make her do sexual favors.  All the while she must remain a strong witness and figure in convicting her cynical kidnapper. This is a very dark plot that could be the plot to a high intensity, multi season drama series, but this is the polar opposite of dark and dramatic.. I may not even be too bold to claim that Kimmy Schmidt: Unbreakable may be the funniest thing I have ever watched. But how does a show with such a dark premise create such a comedic tone… well I’ll tell you.

The most prominent aspect of the comedy within the show is the delivery of lines. This show has many different comedic aspects within it but the one portion that really makes the audience hurl over from laughter is the deadpan delivery of nonsensical dialogue.  For those unaware, deadpan is a mechanism of comedy in which one person says or does something funny during a scene and no character on screen laughs or reacts at all to the action, acting like it is completely normal.  This contributes because this series thrives off of nonsense even in the most intense moments of the show, and when witty, nonsense is spewed back and forth between characters of the show in very intense moments, you just can’t help but laugh as an audience member.

Image result for kimmy schmidt funniest quotes

Quote from Kimmy Schmidt

Another aspect that contributes to the comedic tone of the show is the pop culture references and the very modern material that is portrayed.  Kimmy was born in the mid 1980s as previously stated, so naturally there are many 90s pop culture references as well as the current day references that often times are completely nonsensical because Kimmy was only a child during the 90s and still technically has the cultural awareness of a child as she has just been released from a barren bunker separated from the outside world.  This allows for Kimmy (and less often her supporting characters) to make inappropriate, and often nonsensical but comical, comments that are also hilariously delivered through deadpan dialogue about pop culture.

Though there are many factors that contribute to the comedy within the very intense plot line of the series meshing well, I firmly believe that the deadpan delivery of dialogue and the frequent culture references are key to the comedy that has allowed Kimmy Schmidt.

Peace out Blog Posts.

Giving Up is Silent Rebellion

Hypocrisy and Sacrifice in The Handmaid’s Tale

We all justify the worst of actions, the worst of lies, to ourselves to convince ourselves that it’s okay. What “it’s” is differs, and in The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s everything- from the horrendous government to the definition of love. Contradictions create instability and it creates little holes that tear the structure of Gilead down.

Gilead is so full of contradictions but its establishment was scarily simple. The Commanders claim that God wanted it this way, that they were following the word of Him. When Aunt Lydia says to June, “Blessed are the meek,” June remembers the ending of the scripture, “… and blessed are those who suffer for the cause of righteousness.” June’s words convey the manipulation of scripture by the government and earns her a cattle prod to the face. The people who run Gilead twist and select pieces of the Bible that will help them justify their actions and maintain their power.

In addition to systematic hypocrisy, no individual character is perfect either. The characters in the show go against their own values to defend the values of the republic. Commander Waterford, a high-ranking leader of Gilead, continues to manipulate June through little favors and emotionally tears his wife down slowly.

Although Fred practices acts of hypocrisy for his own enjoyment, he still fully believes in Gilead. However, two of the most dynamic characters in The Handmaid’s Tale are two women who slowly realize the messed-up nature of the society they live in. Serena and Eden come from a place of full faith but as time passes, they both change as they know the system is broken but are too afraid to act on it. Until they do.

Eden, a young girl, fell in love with the idea of love and tried to chase it, despite her devotion to the republic. She, and the man she ran off with, are drowned. She sacrifices her own life as a punishment for disobeying Gilead, but she did not stray from her love of God nor her true love. The death of a devout young girl sparks realization in many of the Wives as they understand the unforgiving and religiously backward nature of Gilead.

Serena can’t seem to make up her mind. Sometimes, she helps June but sometimes she’s June’s worst nightmare. However, she makes a final sacrifice to protect “her” child. After trying to civilly propose an amendment to the council, she loses a finger for reading and realizes she can’t put her baby through this world, and thus, gives her baby to June to escape with. She redeems herself, but her future seems bleaker than ever.

Even after so much struggle, the people of Gilead still live in a shadow of hypocrisy and everyone, even the strongest, break.

Latin: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” A motif through the whole show, June scribbles it a final time before her escape.

Gender Representation in New Girl

For the fourth Blog Entry, I am focusing on the gender representation within the show. In New Girl, there is a balanced gender spread. Even though there are slightly more male characters than the female characters, the main character is Jess and the show plot is always related to her. Therefore, it balances out the gender representation. However, only two genders, male and female, are represented in this show whereas there are many other genders that could have been represented.

In this show, the two main couples are Jess and Nick, and Cece and Schmidt. In the relationship between Jess and Nick, Jess is dramatic, and Nick hides his feelings. However, this was contrasted in one episode where Nick accidentally says he loves Jess and Jess goes away after giving an awkward reaction. In the relationship with Cece and Schmidt, Cece makes the logical decision and Schmidt follows her decision or runs away from his responsibility. In conclusion, I believe the agency is equally assigned because the characters that makes significant decisions are both males and females.

Jess and Nick

Cece and Schmidt

There are not much of class, disability, and mental illness issues discussed in this show. Since the genre of New Girl is sitcom (situation comedy), the show is mostly in the light mood. Due to this fact, the serious issues in the society are not usually addressed. As I mentioned preciously, there are only two genders represented throughout the show. There is no diversity in sexual orientation. There are only heterosexuals. Lastly, there are characters with different races. However, the race is not really associated with gender in this show, which means that there is no noticeable correlation between gender and race.

In conclusion, although it lacks many different genders, the males and females are balanced in the show New Girl. There are characters which are gender stereotypes but there are also characters which are far opposite of these stereotypes.

#Exposed: The Writing in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a very clever show; its writing is frequently deceptively critical. When speaking about the writing in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it’s impossible to ignore the songs; they’re always super catchy and super focused in their criticisms of various issues, from women’s oversexualization to the glorification of mental illness. This is true in the case of the song “Sexy French Depression,” which is featured in episode 7, “I’m So Happy that Josh Is So Happy!”

In strongly playing up the concepts of mental illness being interesting and of girls who are struggling being interesting and quirky, the song ends up poking fun at said concepts and deconstructing the fantasy inherent to them. Take the first stanza, for example:

My eyes are dark from sadness
My lips are red from pain
My bosom ‘eaves with sobs
I’m in a sexy French depression

Each individual line portrays an idealized image of struggle and sadness, and by so strongly embracing the concept that female suffering is sexy, the song is able to shine light on the ridiculousness of the concept, right from the start. The second stanza also deconstructs the concept of “sexy depression”, but in a different way. First, a quick look at the stanza:

I walk, oh, so slowly
I can only breathe and sigh, oh!
My bed smells like a tampon
I’m in a sexy French depression

In this case, the stanza doesn’t play along with depression being sexy. Instead, it shines light on how depression really is, unflattering aspects and all, through lines like, “My bed smells like a tampon.” The song switches through these two approaches, going from wholeheartedly embracing depression’s “sexiness” to exposing depression for what it really looks like, and by doing this, it more effectively gets its point across.

This clever writing isn’t very surprising, considering that “Sexy French Depression” was written by Rachel Bloom and Adam Schlesinger. Rachel Bloom has past experience with the particular style of blunt, oftentimes-explicit comedy, from writing and singing the song “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury,” in 2010 to singing “My Sex Junk” on “The Sexual Spectrum” episode of Bill Nye Saves the World in 2017. She also has experience with musical comedy—as of now, she’s released 2 musical comedy albums, Please Love Me and Suck It, Christmas—and regularly speaks about mental health issues, having a history with it herself (she has depression, OCD, and anxiety.) As for Adam Schlesinger, he has a broad wealth of experience with songwriting, having written song lyrics for movies, TV, and musical theater.

Works Cited

“Adam Schlesinger,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Schlesinger

“I’m In A Sexy French Depression,” Genius, https://www.genius.com/10127238

“Rachel Bloom,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Bloom

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.

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

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??”

Not all Heroes Wear Capes…Or Smiles: Exploration of a Common Theme in Jessica Jones

The last episode of the first season of Jessica Jones, titled “AKA Smile”, was quite a packed one, from Luke Cage’s revival from Jessica’s reluctant gunshot on him while he was under control of the mind-controlling Kilgrave to the astonishing death of Kilgrave from Jessica’s bare hands. This sudden death of who has been the show’s main antagonist raises several interesting points, from putting the plots of coming episodes in question as the show has suddenly lost a focal character, to the shift in general perceptions of the townspeople of Jessica. From the beginning of the season till the moment she snaps Kilgrave’s neck to his death, it could easily be seen how the general surrounding around Jessica, excluding those who have genuinely gotten to know her over time, such as her step-sister Trish, neighbor Malcolm, and “love” Luke Cage, viewed and treated her much like her own personality: sassily and rather harshly. Even the people supposedly representing the law who she had to testify her innocence to multiple times throughout the episodes, including those who questioned her following her “unlawful murder” of Kilgrave after him taking control over multiple people throughout his life and unlawfully murdering many of them, treated her similarly to her personality and her possession of superpowers rather than her actions. This show therefore presents Jessica Jones as an ideal example of someone who is constantly judged based on most any other factor than her actions and the overall benefit she is truly providing to the people around her and many more, and argues that though they do not contain superpowers like Jessica, there are many people in our society whose positive actions also go unnoticed since they are judged based on other less important factors.

In addition to her actions and physical powers, the show also presents multiple instances where Jessica displays immense mental strength, the most common one being her withstanding the trials, questions, and often going about unnoticed or even looked down upon. The last episode of the first season itself displays many of the other instances of her mental strength, such as the way she kept herself from breaking down consistently as she witnessed Luke Cage being transported to the ER after she shot him and as the nurses tried but failed to perform many medical procedures on his indestructible skin. But perhaps the strongest instance will have to be the moments before Jessica succeeded in her mission of Kilgrave’s death, which included her having to pretend to be under his control and listen to him as he falsely declares his love for her step-sister and promises to torture her until he thought she was actually under his control and let his guard down. In the end, the only people who actually witnessed Jessica’s actions and strengths, such as Trish in the scene above, over time grew to support her along the way, a recurring theme in the show that closely mirrors the real world.

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Jessica pretending to be under Kilgrave’s influence.

Gender in Glow

Gender is a central element of the show Glow; whose entire focus is the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”. Despite the entire focus of the wrestling league being women, there are no women in any leading or executive roles working on it. The show utilizes this to exemplify the “glass ceiling” commonly imposed upon women, where women rarely rise to executive positions even in fields where they constitute a plurality or majority of workers. Though the entire focus of GLOW is the women, the director, producer, and sponsor are all men. Though Cherry is given some power she is rarely taken seriously either by the other women or her superiors. This is made particularly clear in season one episode five, where Sam and Bash are attempting to secure funding for the show.

Sam tells the women they are only present for “window dressing”

Though the women are the entire focus, they are brought merely as “window dressing” and are essentially just intended to be sexual objects and not speak or display their wrestling talents. Ultimately, they display their worth when Ruth provides a convincing performance and engages the crowd, managing to secure funding for the show, but despite their legitimate value and talent the women are treated as if they are less than the men and not taken seriously merely because of their femininity. These problematical issues that Glow draws attention to in this episode are representative of similar issues women commonly face on a regular basis in the workforce both in the US and across the world. There are countless issues, such as the wage gap and glass ceiling, that have a profound and negative impact on women. Glow manages to highlight these issues by showing how women are unjustly treated unfairly based entirely upon their gender.

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