English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Amanda McAuley

It’s all about the MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

I started out my blog posts with a discussion about the cultural difference of the Huang family and modern America. But, diving deeper into this general theme is how money is portrayed in the show.


The Huang family JUST moved from DC to Orlando with basically nothing. While, most comedy shows would focus on dumb events that occur or misfortunes, Fresh off the Boat manages to make real issues into comedy, like the struggle for money.


Each episode has tons of examples specific to the show and overarching money struggles. For example, Eddies ALWAYS wants a new CD, video game, movie, technology, etc. In episode 6, he is set on a new video game. But, his parents do not just fork over the money because they can’t… they are establishing themselves…and barely have necessities like air conditioning… So, Eddie works as “Fajita Boy” at Cattleman’s Ranch because “there are no handouts in the Huang family”. The show manages to make a comedic 11 year old working a job stem from cultural differences and NEED. Eddie’s grandfather had to work hard, therefore Eddie has to work hard. His parents constantly remind him of the struggles his relatives faced trying to succeed fiscally, which keeps the comedy REAL.

Eddie as “Fajita Boy”

The money struggles comes up not only for Eddies (bc all 11 year olds are broke), but for his parents. His mom is looking for a job to help provide because not all families can live on one income. His dad is constantly trying to make Cattleman’s Ranch a successful restaurant (and usually failing). His family keeps the air conditioning off in FLORIDA to save money, like that is TERRIBLE.


Watching comedies focus on real problems makes it easier to get invested in the shows. In Fresh off the Boat, the struggle of money and assimilating and succeeding are displayed and it has made it a great show to watch #peace #out #blog

Camera Flips & Other Cinematographic Tips

I am not the best at focusing on details and minor messages in media, instead I focus on the plot and characteristics of the main characters. For me this class has been eye opening because we analyze all aspects of television, movies, etc in class. When I was analyzing an episode of Fresh off the Boat, I had to be super intentional and focus on the aspects of the show and visual design.


The first thing I noticed were the bright colors in the show, most likely because the producers are trying to emphasize that the entire show is in the past because it is based on a memoir. The best example is inside Eddie’s school hallway where the lockers are bright orange and the walls are bold yellow. The same theme is in the Huang house, where the wallpaper is yellow and green print, which is outdated for 2018, but in style for 1995.


The next thing I noticed was how the camera was only on the person who was talking. This means that while the scenes are long, the camera is constantly flipping between speaking characters. This did not annoy me…until…I over analyzed it through this prompt…whoops. The long camera shots promote growth of relationships because that is really what this show is about. The plot is just the same thing in different situations for comedic effect, while it focuses on the coming of age aspect of Eddie. But, back to the camera flipping a lot. This technique is super straightforward and focuses on the speaker more than the background or scenery. The quick flipping also enhances the back and forth bickering that is destined to happen in a family with three sons, a naive father, and a control-freak of a mother. But, it can also hurt your head a lot because the camera never stops moving in a similar way that Hallmark cameras are CONSTANTLY moving. And sometimes it is like woahh just zoom out a little bit!

In this ONE 40 second scene, the camera flipped drastically 17 TIMES to follow the speaker

I continued to go into the next episode and noticed all the same visual/cinematographic elements, so it is something that ties all the episodes together. While I have watched 6 episodes, this is the first time I was intentional and noticed the cinematographic components even though it is a constant throughout the series.

Success as defined by your gender in #FOTB

From the opening scene of episode 4, it was obvious that the show would continue to stick to traditional and exaggerated gender roles that have played out in the prior episodes. The characters’ success is determined differently by their gender.


Let me set up the scene… extended family members (including an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, and a grandma) are visiting the Huang family from D.C. Within the family, it is a constant competition to be more successful than the others.


For Jessica and her sister, the battle is over looks, shopping deals, and mother’s love. These are the ways that the show gives them their value. The reasons for this might be because the show is suppose to be a throwback to the 90s, so they are overemphasizing the progress that has been made in the past two decades. Also, the roles might be cultural. The sisters are battling to be their mother’s favorite and not chasing after careers, which means that cultural loyalty remains at home for the women. While it is amusing to watch the sisters battle over perms, breast size, and discounted prices, the gender roles in the family are restrictive and limiting. The women seems to add nothing to the family except housekeeping and eye-candy…

Jessica and her sister Connie battle over their mother’s favoritism (w/ Jessica rocking the “success perm”)

For the men of the family, Louis and his brother in law (and ex-boss), their success is determined by their career, cars, and  technology. The male characters are expected to have it all; the car, the computer, the successful company, etc. BUT, this is so restrictive, even for a comedy show. It is just another example of a place where female are not shown as succeeding in the workplace and where men are forced to be the sole provider and suporter. This scene makes men look like they have to be superheros and have it all, when realistically they don’t. This family gender role could also be tied to culture of the Huang family, so the roles speak more to the cultural expectations from this time period.


It is super easy to box genders up and make the characters easy to understand. For FOTB, the focus is on comedy and fast-paced plot, not intricate characters. In every show, something is sacrificed in production and through the family reunion scene, it is obvious that Fresh off the Boat doesn’t waste time having dynamic characters that redefine family gender roles.

Gender Representation in Children’s Television (Annotated Bibliography)


Coyne, Sarah M., et al. “It’s a Bird! it’s a Plane! it’s a Gender Stereotype!: Longitudinal Associations between Superhero Viewing and Gender Stereotyped Play.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 9-10, 2014, pp. 416-430. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1531890817?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0374-8.

This longitudinal study explores the gender stereotype of masculinity. It had 134 mothers of pre-school children report information over several years. The study takes into account the exposure of children to superheros (television and movies) and their amount of male-stereotyped play and weapon play that results from it. Boys are more likely to mimic the male-stereotyped and weapon play because they can relate to the superheroes. Since the superheroes are mostly boys or geared towards boys, young boys see them as a role model. But, girls who watched high levels of superheros were not more likely to use male-stereotyped play or weapon play than girls that didn’t watch as much because they can not relate to the shows and movies as much as boys can. This source is valuable because it is longitudinal so it portrays the effect on children viewing of these hypermasculine shows. It also details the social psychology behind imitating shows and why boys and girls react differently when they watch the same thing. Also, the comparison of boys to girls is extremely effective in this source.



England, Dawn E., Lara Descartes, and Melissa Collier-meek. “Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses.” Sex Roles, vol. 64, no. 7-8, 2011, pp. 555-567. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/857999236?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9930-7.

This article details how Disney princess movies have trended towards more egalitarian gender roles. In the study, they determined the frequency that princes displayed certain qualities and how often the princesses displayed the qualities. For example, some of the qualities are helpful, sensitive, curious, assertive and athletic. The rise of feminism affected their tactics because then princes began showing emotions and princesses became more assertive, but the plots often rely on the princess getting the man in the end. For example, while Pocahontas and Mulan deal with diplomacy and war, in the end they are paired off with their princes. The value of this article comes from the contrast from the 1930s to modern day and how Disney employs traditional gender roles. The paper suggests provocative ideas, but doesn’t necessarily have empirical evidence because the display of kindness (or any other trait) is vague and subjective. It overall details how it is hard for Disney to break from gender stereotypes, while still pleasing their consumers.



García-Muñoz, Núria and Maddalena Fedele. “The Teen Series and the Young Target. Gender Stereotypes in Television Fiction Targeted to Teenagers.” Observatorio (OBS*), vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 215-226. EBSCOhost, prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=82233901&site=ehost-live.

This article focuses on television for teenagers. It increases the information about the images of young people that are portrayed in teen television.The conclusions come from analyzing the social and physical descriptions, personality traits, and role in the plot of each character. The results are more than just which qualities boy characters or girl characters have, it is much more in depth. It introduces the idea that older people are underrepresented on television. Also, that almost all homosexual characters display traditional feminine qualities, which is based purely on stereotypes and not reality. This article is valuable because is important to know what messages teen shows promote because the teen years are when the identity is formed and teens should not have to be limited by stereotypes. While the article displays how powerful media is and the need for less stereotypes in television, it is a very limited study focusing on few shows and specific characters. It is overall easy to read, but some conclusions may not have enough evidence to be significant.



Gerding, Ashton, and Nancy Signorielli. “Gender Roles in Tween Television Programming: A Content Analysis of Two Genres.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 1-2, 2014, pp. 43-56. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1477375870?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-013-0330-z.

This is a content analysis of gender roles in teen television shows. The study used 49 episodes from 40 different shows that can be distinctly identified as either teen scene (geared towards girls) or action-adventure (geared towards boys). The results are displayed in percentage of male and female characters in both show categories that are attractive, show bravery/rescue, and use technical skill. Overall the analysis details how females were more likely to be attractive , while the males were considered more unattractive. Women have to be beautiful to be watched, but men can rely on personality alone in shows was one of the conclusions. Also, the analysis dissects how the ratio of males to females in the shows are 2:1, thus continuing the culture that men/boys are more important. The value of this source is that it takes into account television shows for girls and boys. Overall the focus is on teen television’s misrepresentation of females and it may not disclose how men are misrepresented on television shows, so it is overall more biased than some other articles.



Steyer, Isabella. “Gender Representations in Children’s Media and Their Influence.” Campus — Wide Information Systems, Mar. 2014, pp. 171-180. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1108/CWIS-11-2013-0065.

This article details the negative influence sexist representations in media (including television) have on children’s development. In the era of “equal rights”, it is still common to see women underrepresented in television and to see them performing traditional roles. This scholar article argues that society is far from equal, but change starts with the next generation. Children who are exposed to non-traditional gender representation have more positive development, but this is not common. The article explains in depth how men outnumber women in children’s television. For example, the ratio of men to women is 2.6:1  in the 101 G-rated films taken into account. Not only are do girls see less of their gender, but boys are developmentally stunted. Females are often more attractive and intelligent than their male counterparts, which lowers boy’s self-esteem. Also, women are portrayed more as moms, while older men are seen more as bachelors, therefore a lot of television lacks positive male role models. The value of this article comes from its mixture of conceptual ideas with statistical evidence. It also gives equal thought to all children’s development, not just specifically girls or boys. It is worth reading because a lot of themes and stereotypes go undetected in children’s television shows and these just further promote inequality, but they are sometimes hard to point out because sexist representations are so deeply connected to our culture.


Thompson, Teresa L., and Eugenia Zerbinos. “Television Cartoons: Do Children Notice it’s a Boy’s World?” Sex Roles, vol. 37, no. 5, 1997, pp. 415-432. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225382192?accountid=11107.

This article explores a study of how 89 children perceive male and female cartoon characters differently. The article provides background in behavioral psychology and typical gender stereotypes in television including the job status, knowledge, and representation of characters. It reports that children noticed gender-stereotypical behaviors in cartoon characters including the stereotypical representation that boys are violent and active, while girls are more domestic and boy-obsessed. Also majority of the kids chose traditional occupations for their own futures. This is worth reading because the study results take into account factors like age and Mother’s working status, making it more reliable. It is also important because it explains in detail that kids are exposed to television at a young age and do not always separate the fantasy of cartoons from reality. The value comes mostly from the empirical evidence that supports that gender stereotyping begins at a young age and that it can be connected specifically to television because especially in the Humanities field there is not always evidence to support arguments.

Keeping It Interesting: The Writing in Fresh off the Boat

I chose to  talk about the writing in episode three (of Fresh off the Boat), “The Shunning”. Since the show is based on a memoir, Eddie Huang gets some credit for writing. He has also written for Bitch, Please!. The main person credited with this episode is Nahnatchka Khan, who also wrote episodes for American Dad, Malcolm in the Middle, and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 13.

It is sometimes easy to forget while watching TV how much time and effort goes into creating each and every show

The most unique component of the writing in this episode (& the thing that sticks out most to me) is the voiceover by future Eddie. Not only does it provide recaps and background information, it represents the inner dialogue of young Eddie. When Eddies gets an idea, like how he thinks getting a woman  will gain him respects with the neighborhood boys, the idea is explained in the voiceover from Eddie’s perspective.  This is  not super typical in shows, but I always prefer shows with narration like Jane the Virgin also has. It is very well done in FOTB, which is important because a memoir is personal thoughts and that can be hard to display through external dialogue, but a nice balance of voice overs and character dialogue makes for a well-done TV series. In the show you never have to worry about NOT knowing Eddie’s opinion about something or someone because the voiceover clearly states his opinions. Specifically in this episode, at then end his attraction to Nichole (neighbor) is VERY evident even though there is not external dialogue to prove so, it is all narrated by future Eddies.


The external dialogue of the episode is also unique because it is composed of mostly quick comments rather than long conversations. For example, when Emery is introducing his TWO girlfriends, they immediately both comment how they are okay with it (very funny scene). Also, what is becoming a common theme is Jessica (the mom) firing away quick comments to control her boys like “go to your room” or “go do *insert random task*”. This technique keeps the show fast-paced and interesting, which is what it takes in the modern television era to keep viewers.


The episode doesn’t use silence as  a major component because often instead of silence a couple beats of music play to bring it back to the idea that Eddies LOVES rap music. Speaking of rap, this is a major external reference in the episode. Eddies looks to rap music as his guide because it is his anthem (especially when it comes to his love life). The episode also alludes to NASCAR because that is the event that draws the whole neighborhood together for a block party and it serves as a major plot element. Eddie’s struggle for love, Jessica’s fight for her friendship with Honey, and Louis’s promotion of his restaurant in the episode all occur at the block party for NASCAR viewing (which is very stereotypically American).

FOTB: Giving a Voice to the Excluded

A major theme in the first two episodes of Fresh off the Boat is exclusion. It argues that exclusion comes in too many ways to count, especially non-traditional ways. For example, Eddie (11 year old main character) isn’t allowed to sit with some boys at lunch because his Chinese food smells bad to his classmates. While this isn’t “excluding him because of his race”, it actually is because the food is part of his culture, which is part of him and his family. Eddie just wants to belong and therefore is willing to conform to his classmates standards, just to make friends. The show focuses on the minor (and major)  ways that minorities are excluded and discriminated against. The Huang family is seemingly the only non-white family in the neighborhood, which makes them feel left out IN THEIR OWN HOME. Especially when the crazy white neighbor tells you “your English is so good” even though you were born in America…

I would eat these noodles over a Lunchable any      day

The show makes its argument not only by showing the exclusion that the Huang family faces, but also from the exclusion Eddie  faces within his own family. His two younger brothers get to go to the same school and sit on the same bus together, but he has to go alone. He LOVES rap music, but his family likes other music. His mom wants them to go to a CLC, Chinese Learning Center, to academically challenge them, while all the other boys his age get to play outside, make friends, and shoot hoops. Worst of all, his little brothers aren’t upset about doing CLC instead of being normal kids. Their relationships portray that even in a loving family, one can feel like an outsider. I think it’s unique because sometimes television families are just classified as “good” or “bad” and FOTB embraces the grey of family.


While this show is a sitcom that is supposed to be funny, it’s themes attack what is wrong with modern America. It can take a serious theme, like exclusion, and use humor to show how it affects people’s lives and I think that is so powerful. My favorite quote from these episodes comes from a conversation between Eddie and his mom. Eddie wants a Lunchable for his school lunch, instead of his mom’s Chinese food. She responds with “You want it to fit in a box? Why are you so American?”. Honestly this quote just stuck out to me and I felt the need to write it down because of how powerful it is. I love that comedy can become so political by using its following base to show what is wrong with our society. There is so much conformity & exclusion in America right now and it means we are missing out on a lot of unique people & ideas. Modern “entertainment” does wayyy more than entertain and I think Fresh off the Boat is the perfect example of media becoming political and thought provoking.


Hey I’m Amanda McAuley and welcome to my blog!! I’m a Chemical Engineering major on track to (hopefully) graduate in 2022! Here is a picture of me considering this is an introduction blog post!

This is me #reppin’ #gatech


            This is my first English class at Tech (well it is also my first semester), but last year I took AP Lit and LOVED dissecting books and making arguments. Over the years I have become better at communicating verbally and emotionally. I can make a point and provide evidence, but I can also read people’s emotions to ensure that those are considerations in how I’m communicating. On the opposite side of communication, I’m a terrible listener. I love to talk and inject my opinion, but this year I need to focus on thinking about the things my peers say instead of focusing on what I want add. If I can learn how to listen to others, then I can further develop my ideas and consider more options.

             As far as my experience with the course topic, I have plenty. I’ve had my fair share of binging sessions like everybody else, but more importantly I was brought up in a family that valued Feminism. My dad is the biggest feminist I know, which in my opinion is super cool. He has always exposed me and my sisters to ideas of female empowerment and encouraged me to be aware of discrimination so that I can avoid just standing and watching it happen. I’m super excited to further shape my beliefs and ideals from what we read and discuss in class about Feminism and Television.

        For my blog, I have chosen to watch Fresh off the Boat! It is a series that focuses on an immigrant family in America during the 1990s and their struggles to adapt to a new lifestyle (with humor of course). This sitcom is about embracing the new and retaining the old and I think that I will really enjoy it! I’ve also had multiple people recommend it to me, but I haven’t had time to watch it yet, so I’m planning on killing two birds with one stone! I also really love shows and movies that are based off books/memoirs, so this show also appealed to me from that angle also !!

This makes me super excited to start watching the show because who doesn’t love an American                             Gothic spin off


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