English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: women Page 1 of 2

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.

Careers in Jessica Jones

This is my final blog post for this class. At first, I didn’t know what to write about, but then I remembered the topic of my info graphic project, the portrayal of career women on television. So today I will be doing just that, analyzing the careers of women on Jessica Jones and comparing them to men.

The main character, Jessica, is a private investigator as her main job. She investigates and finds information that her clients want, and she is pretty good at it. Trish Walker, Jessica’s best friend, is a famous celebrity who was on many TV shows as a child and now has a talk show. Hogarth is a very good lawyer and owns an establishment that wins almost every case. Hogarth’s ex works in the medical field as a doctor. Already, Jessica Jones looks to be doing great things for feminism and television. Not only do they have female leads, but they help further the movement by taking women out of their original representation and moving them more equal to men.

The men on Jessica Jones have very standard jobs. We have Malcolm, an ex druggy who lives in a rundown apartment next to Jessica. There is Luke Cage, who owns a small bar in the city. Kilgrave is the main villain who can control people with his voice. Will Simpson is a cop with a military background. The men on this show have typical jobs with nothing too out of the ordinary.

Jessica Jones Cast

Looking at the careers of both men and women on Jessica Jones, women seem to have better and higher paying careers than men. Typically on TV shows, women rarely have high paying jobs or work in important fields, but Jessica Jones is littered with them. This helps show how much Jessica Jones is doing for feminism. They are furthering women on television and making them more accurate with real life. This is very important. In the past, a women was lucky to even have a job on television, much less be working in a STEM field. Jessica Jones shows how far TV has come, and how much more there is to come for television.

The Most Imperfect Romantic Comedy

Something that really resonated with me within our discussion of Jane the Virgin was the idea of the romantic comedy and how it defines the show, creates and alienates an audience, and sets the entire tone of the show. This applies strongly to The Mindy Project where the entire show is centered around Mindy’s search for love and (in her eyes) the perfect life. In the season two finale, “Mindy and Danny”, she finally gets her true love in, as the title suggests, the form of Danny. In true comedic fashion their journey towards each other was hilarious, complete with montages of Mindy crawling up stairs and Danny getting hit by a taxi. And in true romantic fashion, Mindy gets her happily ever after, on top of the Empire State building à la every classic New York romantic movie, even if she is too exhausted from climbing the stairs to stand. She has the perfect partner, great friends, and a wonderful job. Mindy has it all.

Mindy and Danny having their romantic moment on top of the Empire State Building.

This is the cornerstone of the rom-com genre: through trials and tribulations on a journey of self-discovery, it generally (but, as we learned in Jane the Virgin, not always) ends with the women “having it all”. This idealistic idea includes the women being a perfect mother, wife, worker, friend, daughter, and a host of other roles. And while it’s the goal for some, it rarely works without a hitch in real life. This is where The Mindy Project comes in: it’s the imperfect rom-com. Mindy’s an unlikely hero, and even during her perfect ending Danny quips about her becoming a stay-at-home mother, even through her job and her professional ambitions are vital to her sense of self. The show does something unlikely in demonstrating that the heavily anticipated relationship is not perfect, or anywhere relatively close to it. For most stereotypical rom-com heroines, once they find their partner, they abandon their job to focus on working in the home. And it is a completely respectable choice; however, it is not the choice for Mindy.

That what I love about the show: for better or for worse, it demonstrates an unapologetic amount of honesty and candor. As a subset of the rom-com genre, it’s more representative, shows more relationship failures, and genuinely doesn’t shy away from the issues surrounding the modern romance. Mindy is not your classic heroine, in more ways than one, and she doesn’t try to become something that she isn’t. This show flipped the entire genre and its subsequent expectations on their head and completely revamped them. Real life is not like the romance movies and getting more shows with more accurate representations and expectations is vital. The Mindy Project does just that.

The Mothers of Fresh Off The Boat

So I’ve avoided discussing gender in Fresh Off the Boat. I wanted to give the show a chance to defend itself – but I’m low on topics so the time has arrived. Now I have to give a bit of a disclaimer – this show is a satire. It plays off stereotypes for comedy, so it should be expected that some of those are going to seep into gender.

For starters, In terms of screen time, there is only one lead female roll and that is Jessica Huang. The grandma rarely gets screen time and has very few lines. It is only for comedic sake, but it still rings true that females don’t get much time. In this particular episode they got far more time than usual, because it followed the story line of Jessica instead of Eddie.

In this episode in particular the topic focuses on Eddie Huang’s crush on an older girl. All she cared about was dropping out of school to go to beauty school… ok. This is problematic. But they don’t portray all women like this. The only female main roll is the mom, Jessica Huang. She is obsessed with being the best at everything and encourages her kids to be the same. Her determination is so strong that she temporarily quits her efforts to become a realtor because she is worried she will not be the best realtor in the district. So we have a strong female lead. She’s determined to work her hardest and refuses to even be associated with stay at home moms, because she wants to be associated with the image of a powerful working woman. The side characters are stuck in the past. We have the previously mentioned crush. In addition, we have a huge culture of stay at home moms that the show features who are aggressively conservative and look down upon working mothers (bad) but the show frames them in a way that is clear that they are looked down upon for not supporting fellow women (good). In this episode in particular one of the moms tries to encourage Jessica to work hard to accomplish her dreams, while playing the role of a very stereotypical mom.

this is a look into the stereotypical moms on the show

Although the show presents gender through stereotypes, it endorses women being proud of who they are, and supporting other women. In the end that’s the whole message of the show, be who you are.

A Clear Indictment of the Prison System

The theme of Orange is the New Black is overwhelmingly obvious – the American justice system serves primarily to debilitate, not to rehabilitate. However, it is the portrayal of it, in showing the way that the prison appears to be helping but really is serving no beneficial purpose, that makes the message being portrayed a bit subtler.

The prison system serves only to punish and remove “undesirables” from society.

Listed in the prison’s budget are GED classes, fitness classes and healthcare. Yet, once money becomes a question, the administration cuts the GED classes and shuts down the track, limiting the “fitness classes” to a yoga class taught by an inmate. Counselors are on staff in name only, and they are anything but a friendly presence to their “patients”. Medical staff cut off Sophia’s (a transgender woman’s) hormones after they switch to more generic medications, putting her in a dangerous position both physically and mentally, and the doctors can only see inmates in cases of “emergencies”. These are all very clear examples of the prison attempting to look as if it cares for its inmates in case someone asks, but it turns out that they are wildly unprepared for the real world.

Although the prison has a law library that is accessible to inmates, very few understand the legal proceedings and even fewer yet can do something with that understanding. After the inmates learn that Piper is fairly literate, they all bring her their appeals that they have written for her to edit, since they cannot do it themselves, and she eventually exclaims in disgust that none of the women have a chance or “even understand how this system works”.

Throughout the show, multiple characters are released and then later return to prison, having had little way to survive. Tastee, a young, strong woman, tells her friends after being put back into prison that she had nobody, nothing and no way to get anything – at least in prison, she was fed and clothed. Although her friends get angry at her for sacrificing her freedom again, the argument is clear – after being in prison, the system casts its former inmates out in the real world to figure it out. Especially after long sentences, it is very likely that they are cut off from the world, their pre-prison life has moved on without them and they no longer have any idea how to make it. Their only option appears to be a life of crime again, which could either be profitable or put them back in jail, the only life that many habitual offenders have ever known.

By showing the prison’s agenda of pretending to care while showing the audience exactly how little they do, the writers of the show make it abundantly clear that they are indicting the prison system for failing to help the people it holds. Instead, it just collects individuals and profits off of them for as long as it can convince the public it is a good thing.

Women Off the Boat, in New Places of Power

Throughout the first season of Fresh Off the Boat, gender roles remained very static and I’d go as far as saying they were very stereotypical. None of the characters really break any molds; most everyone is a typical character and there aren’t any radical characterizations regarding gender. One may argue that Jessica’s place of power in the Huang family challenges the typical patriarchal scheme of a family that we see emphasized through the rest of the neighborhood moms. While this is certainly the case, she is still very dependent on Louis to make all of the money and she fits into the whole “tiger mom” stereotype. I guess all of this is passable since the series is loosely based on Eddie Huang’s book, so this may very well have been how these people existed and interacted.

Towards the end of the first season and certainly in the second, there is some shifting of power regarding gender. Jessica gets a job and is able to provide for the family and move her character away from its previous positioning as a strong matriarch that is only concerned with the performance of her kids. In season 2, episode 3, she also demonstrates her ability to negotiate with salespeople and scores her family a new car for significantly less than its sticker price. As such, she definitely has a big effect on the plot of the show and begins to break away from the more typical role she previously occupied.

Additionally, Nicole, Eddie’s neighbor, is expanded from just being Eddie’s crush to also being a strong, plot-driving character. In episode 5, she demonstrates a lot of power over the boys in school by scaring them away from Jessica’s real estate property. This is definitely a shift towards a more progressive role than she previously held as more of just a pretty face.

Image result for fresh off the boat nicole

Nicole scares off some boys.

This is probably the lone example of something in the show shifting into focus without becoming the butt of a joke, as with sexual orientation. The show brings this up a lot, but it’s never really explored. It’s always used to convey a joke, which I hope will change in the way we’ve seen the show’s representation of gender evolve. In addition, the rest of the female characters occupy very stereotypical roles, as stay-at-home neighborhood moms and a trophy wife. The same can be said for the men, who are mostly rich country club members. At least each gender is accounted for in near equal numbers. I guess the directors just take a lot of time to push the plot in new directions and are slow to approach new facets of representation.

Image result for fresh off the boat bar

The Denim Turtle, Jessica’s escape. Also happens to be a lesbian hang-out.

Movin’ On Up

Broad City’s general brand of humor deals with the relatable yet wacky incidences of daily millennial life, and Abbi and Ilana are perfect portrayals of twenty-somethings trying to get ahead in life. While this brand of comedy accords with the general millennial, season four of Broad City takes a slight turn from wacky to mature. In episode 3 of season 4, titled “Just the Tips,” Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters progress from an innocent, early-20’s mindset to a more mature, late-20’s mindset.

“Just the Tips” reflects the general theme of season 4 in that Abbi and Ilana are not the same wacky, young semi-adults that they once were in earlier seasons. They are maturing into adult women, and they start to attain a sense of stability and maturity that is unlike themselves in earlier seasons. While there still is plenty of craziness that goes on, the protagonists are evidently growing up, and this episode reflects how in real life, people grow up, and they start to make more stable, mature decisions for themselves.

Season 4 of Broad City, spoofing Beyonce’s “Formation” 

In this episode, Ilana is enjoying the fruits of her new high-paying waitress job as she is able to afford daily things that were otherwise luxuries, such as a king-size bed. Abbi, interning at a graphic design firm, is coming to terms with her complicated relationship with Trey, her former boss, and she starts to realize that sex-only flings are not important anymore. While at a party, Abbi and Ilana confront these new lifestyle changes as Abbi is forced to think about her relationship while Ilana is forced to confront Lincoln, her former friends with benefits. Abbi realizes that she needs to invest more time in her well being, and Ilana moves on from the pain of leaving Lincoln as she talks with him face-to-face. Ilana even tells Lincoln that “I[Ilana] am much more mature than when you last saw me.” Both Abbi and Ilana acknowledge what they want, and they start to think for themselves as adults rather than young, innocent millennials. They face their past conflicts head on, and they do not shy away from improving their lives as adults in New York City.

Ilana enjoying her new disposable income

The theme of maturity and growing up in “Just the Tips” relates to the course of Broad City overall because the shift from the earlier seasons to season 4 resembles what happens in real life to most young people. In the earlier seasons, Abbi and Ilana are working dead-end jobs, and they engage in risky endeavors to unsuccessfully better their lives. However, in season 4, Abbi and Ilana are working at stable, worthwhile jobs, and they feel much more content. While there is still plenty of absurdity, Abbi and Ilana are clearly maturing into better versions of themselves. In the end, Broad City takes a more progressing turn as Abbi and Ilana “move on up” in their respective lives.

Ilana and Abbi leaving the party in “Just the Tips”

“Only girls are allowed to catfight”

When watching any television series, one must note the target demographic of the television series in order to understand the context surrounding such a show, and in Switched At Birth, the existence of its demographic of young women creates a unique context that allows for a simultaneous combination of modern and antiquated depictions of gender.

One of the more bizarre elements includes the depiction of the activities of women (versus men), since by all other accounts, Switched At Birth remains fairly equal in representation, with a roughly 50-50 male-to-female ratio. When examining such depictions, an unusual pattern emerges; generally, females are engaged in more conflicts than males yet also receive more plotline elements. For example, the only notable male-to-male conflicts that arise are between John Kennish (Bay’s father) and Daphne’s father, with every other major event, from Bay and Daphne’s competing love interests, to their indignation at the truth about their father being hidden from them, and to even Kathryn’s memoir, involving at least one (and in many cases, two) female characters.

On the one hand, this change could be viewed as positive, given the fact that unlike previously (during the “peak TV” era), female characters, for once, carried most plotlines. However, this must be tempered with, again, the understanding of the target demographic, which is primarily comprised of younger generations, which would desire greater representation, and females, who would desire greater representation of relatable characters to watch the show. Thus, this could be interpreted as merely pandering to such a fanbase.

On the other hand, however, much can be stated about the actual content of each plotline. For example, most clashes between characters, in fact, occur between two females or two girls, such as, again, Bay and Daphne competing for love interests such as Liam, or Regina hiding the truth from her mother and daughters.

Much time is spent viewing these sorts of confrontations between females.

Based on this interpretation, it can thus be interpreted that although female characters are heavily portrayed, their negative portrayal ultimately results in a net negative. Of course, though, as always, the truth resides within the middle (due to competing interest from both the viewer base and a conservative management wishing to not offend any viewers, including older, less socially accepting viewers).

Research Question – The Working Woman

Question: How has the Career Representation of Women in the top Cable TV Shows by decade changed from the 1960s to Now?

Our question concerns how the representation of women’s career on television has changed by decade, starting from the 1960s. Our preliminary research shows that within this time period, the percentage of women working has drastically increased. In contrast, several women on television remain to be depicted as the traditional stay-at-home moms or in “feminine” jobs. However, no recent research has created a comprehensive data source of the careers of TV women. Our research will fill this gap in research by providing numerical figures on the depiction of employed women on TV, as well as an analysis of the career fields of these employed women. The subject of our research will be limited to a set number of the most popular cable television shows by decade.

The world we now live in now would be unrecognizable to someone from the 1960s. Everything has changed drastically, especially cultural and social norms. Throughout this period of time, television has also transformed from black and white to color and from a novelty to a part of our daily life. At the same time, feminism and evolved norms have contributed to increasing gender equality in the workforce. However, this change has not always been reflected in television.

Through our research, we hope to better understand how the change in cultural and social norms have affected the career representation of females on television. This research will provide an analysis of how effective the waves of feminism and social movements have been, allowing for the evaluation of their impact. Furthermore, this will also provide insight into the television industry’s responsiveness towards social and cultural changes, especially that in gender equality. Because television is designed for mass appeal with general audiences, images of women on television directly relate to how society feels women should be depicted. As a result, the depiction of women on television is a reflection of society’s view on working women. Therefore, our question is important because not only does it show how accurate TV depictions are compared to real life, but because it provides insight into the minds of the consumers of these shows.

Women and Sports Media

To what extent does the sporting event being covered affect the role and air time of women U.S. sports broadcasters?

When considering what topic to research, we realized how relevant this question is to the topic of gender representation in today’s sports media landscape. As recently as five days ago, it was announced that for the first time ever an all women NFL broadcasting team would begin coverage of NFL games. This groundbreaking news was met with an immediate backlash from the public.

Hannah Storm – NFL Broadcaster

Why do viewers react this way to women sports analysts when they are seen in roles that go against the norm? Why aren’t there more women in lead anchor positions? Was this public outcry because of them being women or more because the sport that they work in is seen as a male-dominated one?

These are all questions that we considered when thinking of what to research. There is a great deal of research out there about how audiences view women in sports journalism, but we found that there is a significant gap in research that shows how the type of sport may influence the air time and different roles that women broadcasters are relegated to. Through our research, we found that women are often judged by different standards when it comes to broadcasting. Audiences judge them on their appearance many times, while men are judged on their knowledge and expertise. We have also found that women have a harder time of being perceived as dynamic, expert broadcasters due to the gender norms that run rampant in the sports media arena.

Because of the research we found on how audiences perceive women sportscasters, we hope to find how much, if at all, the specific type of sporting event that is being broadcasted influences the roles that women broadcasters are placed in and how much air time that they receive. We will do this by examining five major sporting events from the past year (the 2018 NBA Finals, Super Bowl LII, FIFA soccer World Cup, U.S. women’s gymnastics championships, and Women’s U.S. Open Finals) and recording the airtime of women broadcasters and their roles. We will be asking questions such as what percentage of the total airtime did women receive and were they relegated to sideline reporting or were they a main play-by-play analyst?

This topic is an extremely important one because it is something that is being discussed right now in the news. The current nature of this makes it all the more important for us to find answers to this topic and to see how much of a correlation there may be between the different types of sporting events and the role that women sportscasters have.

Building a World of Female Power Out of Crumbling Masculinity

The scenes of the expansive west have been dominated by by the male gluttony for decades on televisions but in the futurist park of Westworld something is happening: the abusive male dominance is not only crumbling, but is forging strong, powerful, and rebellious women. In episode two of the series we feel a strong emergence of three women — two androids and one park quality assurance director —  who are in control of determining the park’s fate going forward.

Throughout the episodes we are exposed a fairly stereotypical view of the guests in this free roam park as males are portrayed as rich Caucasian daredevils releasing their excessive testosterone in adventures filled with blood and lust while female visitors to the park are depicted as very fragile and fearful housewives. While the show may seem very basic in choosing to represent only the two main genders types, it focuses expansively on the dynamic between the evolving androids who are led by an early twenties farmgirl, Dolores, and a female prostitute, Maeve, and the one of the park’s controllers, Theresa. As the show chooses to blurry out the repetitive male dominated story lines of the park as white noise in the background, we begin to understand how the masterful each woman is with their knowledge and how they can manipulate others around them.

Dolores manipulating Bernard in their private conversation.

Initially, the show directs us to focus on Dolores because her dad reaches an existential crisis about their existence as an android that he reveals to her. However, Dolores immediately becomes a character striving with her duplicity. For example, when she is  talking another one of the park’s directors, Bernard, after being recalled, the viewer cannot distinguish who is in control of the situation. Bernard seems to be bluffing his confidence in his control as he does not know that Dolores is memorizing everything to manipulate him and help her fellow androids in her grassroots movement.

Dolores warning Maeve that they are being controlled with the famous Shakespeare, “These violent delights have violent ends.”

Dolores actually ends up leading us to our next face of the rebellion: Maeve. Maeve’s carefully structured character as a lower class African-American citizen in the fictional society of Westworld allows her to takes her trauma she has experienced to fight back more relentlessly as she has been exploited. Furthermore, the symbolic image of Maeve being completely nude, gushing blood, with scalpel in hand when she escapes during repair two park technicians conjures a sentiment not too distant from the emancipating escape of slaves and shows her determination and desperation for liberation in the most vulnerable form one can be.

Finally, we are exposed to Theresa. Theresa is an extremely dangerous wildcard because of how potent she is when left to her own devices. Not only does she seem to have a grasp of what the problem may be with the “sudden” evolution with the park’s androids but she may as well be controlling them.  She flexes her ambiguity in personal relationships with Bernard to wins conversations firmly and confidently.

Theresa has no fear of calling out her superiors and flaunting her intellect when she feels necessary.

Gender in Jessica Jones

The gender spread in Jessica Jones is pretty even, but it probably edges towards more women. The main protagonist, Jessica, is a female, and the villain, Kilgrave, is a male. The other main characters on the show are Trish, Jeri, Pam, Malcolm, Will, and Luke Cage with the first three being female and the last three being male. Jessica Jones even features mental disorders such as OCD and a main character, Jeri, who is lesbian. The show definitely focuses more on female characters overall, but that is mainly due to the main protagonists being women. The show focuses on Jessica struggling to overcome and defeat an old enemy, Kilgrave, with the help of  a few friends. We see Jessica struggling in both her private and public life as it is thrown around by Kilgrave. However, the show also takes breaks to show the hardships of other characters such as Malcolm with his heroin addiction, and Luke with losing his wife.

Jessica Jones Characters

From what I’ve watched so far, the main characters making tough decisions are mainly Jessica, Malcolm, Trish, and Luke with most of the other characters just reacting to what happens and following orders. Jessica Jones definitely focuses more on women making the main decisions and driving the show than men, which is a nice switch up for a change.  This is important because most TV shows have men as the driving characters in the show who make all the decisions. It is important to show how women have to make tough choices and decisions on television.

Jessica Jones shows a lot more women in higher classes than men. A lot of women characters are very successful in jobs such as TV star, law firm owner, and doctor. The main male characters don’t have it as nice with them being a struggling heroin addict, small bar owner, and police officer. This show does a very good job of showing career women in television in high up jobs in society.  There is also a very big emphasis on mental illness in Jessica Jones with Jessica, Luke, and Will all having trouble with PTSD, and Jessica’s upstairs neighbor having extreme OCD.

Overall, Jessica Jones features and focuses on slightly more women than men, but does a very good job in representing multiple genders, races, and mental illnesses.

Power Play: Women Can Do It All

The Bold Type tends to turn gender representation into a battle of the sexes. Episode 6 is a perfect example of this.

There always seems to be a power struggle between women and men. This image represents that struggle.

Women make the decisions that matter while the men end up being the ones ignored even when they have valid points. For example, Sutton misplaced a valuable pendant that she borrowed from a fellow assistant of another company. Richard, Sutton’s forbidden lawyer boyfriend, advises her to come clean about the missing necklace strictly based on his legal expertise. Sutton ignores his advice, and Richard is left watching things unfold from the sidelines. Because this is a TV show, everything falls in to place so that Sutton gets back the pendant and is vindicated in her decision to dismiss Richard. If this were real life where things don’t always work out so rosily, not taking Richard’s advice would likely have been a tremendous mistake. The show glosses over these kinds of alternatives because women are right and men are wrong. Although I am all for women empowerment, the show could afford to work a little harder to strike a balance between how each gender is represented. Within the same episode, Kat is on a rampage to “take down the patriarchy” through a free the nipple social media campaign. She justifies her actions as fueling women empowerment and breast cancer awareness, but with Jacqueline’s wise words, she realizes that her fight was less about the cause and more about winning. Kat’s actions were stemmed in her need for control. Everything really comes down to power.

When I searched girl power, and this image came up, I knew that The Powerpuff Girls would be the perfect representation of the girls in The Bold Type. Sutton is Blossom. Jane is Buttercup. Kat is Bubbles. No further discussion is necessary.

Kat, Sutton and Jane make many impactful decision that affect the course of their individual lives and the supporting characters around them, but Jacqueline is a sun so massive that its impossible for them to escape her gravitational pull. Although Jacqueline exudes power, the looming male force of the executive board eclipses her power. In spite of the limitations of her control, no one can question that Jacqueline is the boss. Often times women in such positions of power are seen as cold, calculating and bossy which aligns with what Jane says to Jacqueline in a fit of fury.  Jacqueline invites Jane to see the other side of her which is when the show reveals that Jacqueline has a husband and two sons. Typically such a thing wouldn’t serve as a twist or a surprise in any capacity, but in all the preceding episodes Jacqueline was only shown as the woman in charge. The show establishes Jacqueline as a boss first and a wife and mother second as a weapon against gender roles. In traditional gender roles, women are supposed to be wives and mothers first otherwise they are neglecting their families for their careers. Being a good mother and wife and being a career women are not mutually exclusive. Jacqueline is a boss at work and at home. Likewise, every episode Jacqueline somehow manages to be the girls’ biggest critique and biggest cheerleader which just goes to show women can do it all.

This clip is not from the particular episode I describe in this post, but I think it perfectly sums up Jacqueline’s mindset as a boss.

The Confrontational and Disheartening Nature of Birthdays

Throughout my short tenure at college I’ve discovered one main lesson: being an adult is hard. This is also the lesson that Mindy discovers in the episode “Mindy’s Birthday”. This episode centers around her birthday, but being in her thirties, she is disillusioned with the party her friends decide to throw for her: a glitzy, public bash complete with presents that teach cooking for one and an elliptical. As people grow other, birthdays are no longer what they were when they were kids. Birthdays, events designed to be celebrations of life allow people to become disappointed in the events of their lives. It’s generally a time for people to come to term with the shortcomings of their own lives, as birthdays are milestones that can pass without certain moments of success. For Mindy, this is most evidenced by her lack of a relationship. Thus, the argument here is that birthdays force adults to evaluate their life choices, many times in a harsher way than reality.

The episode demonstrates the introspective, sometimes disheartening nature of birthdays by a series of bad choices made by Mindy. After confronting her lack of romantic relationship, she abandons her friends and coworkers to drink alone at a bar. This leads her to make a group of superficial friends before wandering NYC with her belligerent office assistant. Mindy became transfixed on what her ideal life should be in her mid-thirties, and when she realized she hadn’t achieved it, she ran away. She forgot to be appreciative for the wonderful things she already had in her life – her friends.

This ties back to the larger theme evident throughout the entire show – life is not a fairytale romance. Life is messy, difficult, not always enjoyable, and it certainly will not go perfectly. Mindy is an eternal optimist – she has high expectations and she really, truly believes she can achieve everything she wants. At the times when things don’t go perfectly, she breaks down. The show is technically considered a romantic comedy, and as such, Mindy strives for the same ideals perpetrated throughout the genre: to be happily married, have a successful career, and be perfectly content. She has achieved much of this, but she is still missing a crucial (in her opinion) piece – the relationship. This relates to the crushing expectations placed on women by society – they must be perfect and achieve milestones by specific times in life. As each birthday passes, Mindy feels herself drifting away from cultural perfection. However, as she discovers at the end of the episode, she has enough in her life to be happy. Even though she isn’t at the picture-perfect place in her life, life will always be chaotic, and people have to learn to leave their expectations and plans behind and just live life to the fullest with what they have.

Mindy’s least favorite birthday present of the night – Microwave Cooking for One

Gender Representations in Childrens TV: Annotated Bib

Source 1:

Rousseau, Ann, et al. “A Short-Term Longitudinal Exploration of the Impact of TV Exposure on Objectifying Attitudes Toward Women in Early Adolescent Boys.” Sex Roles, 2018, doi:10.1007/s11199-018-0925-5.

This study examined how television affects the way adolescent boys understand gender stereotypes and whether it leads them to understand men as the dominant role and objectify woman. Following the suggestion that children are more likely to enjoy consuming media that reflects the environment they are raised in, the study also examined how their parents relationship in addition to the tv they watched affected their understanding of gender. The study found that parents did not monitor shows on trusted children’s channels, however, the tween television content did indirectly contribute to the development of stereotypical attitudes toward women and men. It also found that parents have strong influence over whether or not these opinions develop and can buffer them by monitoring the shows or exemplifying a respectful egalitarian relationship.  While this study was conducted in Belgium, it does look to understand western culture and studies channels such as Disney and nickelodeon that american children consume. This is a useful study because the experiment not only speaks to the specific topic being researched but it expands it to include multiple factors that influence the way children’s media affects young boys understandings of gender.

Source 2:

Gerding, Ashton, and Nancy Signorielli. “Gender Roles in Tween Television Programming: A Content Analysis of Two Genres.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 1-2, 2013, pp. 43–56., doi:10.1007/s11199-013-0330-z.

 

This study researched 49 episodes of 40 shows produced with the intended viewership of tweens in the United States. The shows were chosen if they fell into one of two categories which were geared toward the opposite genders: “teen scene” (for girls) and “action-adventure” (for boys). By comparing characters personalities, roles, conversations, and appearances, the study discovered that the action shows were disproportionate in their gender representation, having many more male characters than girls. The teen scene shows, however had equal representation. In the teen scene shows there was little stereotypical behavior and the girl and boy characters had similar personalities. All of the girls in the show were attractive and cared about their appearance whereas the guys had varying levels of attractiveness. The study determined this to mean that the message shows send to kids id that “females can participate in everything that males can, but while doing so they should be attractive and should work to keep up this attractiveness”. This article is very useful because the study was study was well conducted and it speaks directly to the issue we are looking at. It comments on how children’s television has progressed however it still contains flaws.  

Source 3:

Martin, Rebecca. “Gender and Emotion Stereotypes in Children’s Television.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 61, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 499–517. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08838151.2017.1344667.

 

This study researched both educational and non educational children’s television shows and examined the prevalence of emotional stereotypes. The study took 4 of each genre and examined the use of anger, sadness, fear, and happiness. It found that overall the shows include more male characters than female, a trend that continues throughout the years studied. The study also found that the male characters exhibited stronger emotions in all of the four categories. This result demonstrates that the shows tend to portray counter-stereotypes, especially in the entertainment shows. This study was not very useful because it looked at only 8 shows over a broad time span, such as Magic School Bus from 1994 and Curious George from 2006. The show also only looked at shows on minor networks, which are viewed by less of the population, and it did not look at how this affects the kids viewing it and whether or not it instilled any beliefs in them.

Source 4:

Campbell, Olivia. “Why Gender Stereotypes In Kids’ Shows Are A REALLY Big Deal.” Refinery29, Refinery29, 5 Dec. 2017, www.refinery29.com/kids-shows-gender-roles-stereotypes.

 

This article describes the problems facing childrens TV and how it can cause kids to form stereotypical understandings of gender. It references how many shows have more boys than girls, and that the boy characters are usually the heroes with a purpose and how female characters are often pushed aside and given “weaker” roles. The article argues that parents need to educate their kids that girls and boys are equal and can accomplish anything they want. While this article makes interesting points, it is not usable due to its inflammatory rhetoric and consistent use of logical fallacies. The article uses strong language to upset its readers and get them on its side. The author makes drastic assumptions, which are arguably not entirely false, such as the claim that spousal abuse and sexual assault are caused by sexism in our society and this sexism is in part caused by childrens TV. In short, children’s TV leads to violence.

Source 5:

Sarah Banet‐Weiser (2004) Girls rule!: gender, feminism, and nickelodeon,
Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21:2, 119-139, DOI: 10.1080/07393180410001688038

This piece looks at Nickelodeon children’s shows with female leads to decipher whether or not girl power is treated as a lucrative market strategy or if the shows actually succeed in providing pure feminist ideals. By focusing on a handful of major TV shows, the study finds that the channel urges both girls and boys to question the stereotypical gender narratives. The author argues that the girl power narrative behind these shows is one that parallels Third Wave feminism and that the shows offer a diverse variety of characters that demonstrate that women are contributing and worthwhile members to society. This article is usable because it studies one of the most popularly viewed children’s channel and dissects the controversial way that its feminist message is presented. It would be helpful to know more about how these messages are being understood by children as the piece mainly focuses on adult criticisms.

Source 6:

Bowman, Sabienna. “’Girl Meets World’ Is A Feminist Triumph.” Bustle, Bustle, 25 Apr. 2018, www.bustle.com/articles/175843-how-girl-meets-world-quietly-became-one-of-tvs-most-feminist-shows

One of the strongest feminist shows on television is the children’s show Girl Meets World. The story follows two best friends who come from drastically different homes, Maya and Riley, in their middle school and highschool years. It tackles many subjects that most children shows will not touch such as cultural appropriation, bullying, and STEM not being promoted for girls. The strength in the girls friendship is what makes the show such a feminist inspiration and it does what other shows fail to. The conflict of the second season is that the two girls have a crush on the same boy, however, Disney does not let the show follow stereotypes by going into stereotypical catfights to handle this love triangle. Instead the issue is put aside and friendship is prioritized in a happy resolution. The respect the women of the show have for each other and the effort they put in to help raise each other up is one that is inspiring, especially for developing young viewers. This article is useful because it gives an example of a powerfully feminist show on children’s media and the positive way it addresses social issues, giving direct examples of its strengths.

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