English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Alex Mealey

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.



Writes and Wrongs on New Girl

I’ve been looking forward to writing this one.  Today let’s discuss the writing style of New Girl following the 9th episode of season one: “The 23rd”.  Episode 9 having a plot line centered around Christmas proves to be the most emotionally provocative episode yet.  While at an office Christmas party, the gang finds themselves confronting their internal/external conflicts.  This results in an emotional rollercoaster that is powered by subtle but powerful dialogue which we will dive into now!  (Prepare for all the feels)

Throughout episode 9 there are 4 main struggles going on.

  1. Jess isn’t in love with Paul and he is (news that is revealed to Paul by a clumsy Nick)
  2. Schmidt is sick of being used around the office for his body
  3. Winston does not feel a sense of belonging in the world of conventional jobs
  4. Cece is dating a jerk

Each of these struggles are relatable but still difficult making them more impactful on the audience.  In order to capitalize on these pressing issues the writers of the show use certain tactics to amplify the emotional connection between audience and character.  For example, almost all dialogue in this show is shared in an intimate setting between two characters. (3 in the case of Jess, Paul, and Nick)

The writers leave lots of silences between dialogue to let the words resonate with the viewer.  There is also no narrator, which is expected with New Girl, but this leaves the watcher without a specific point from which to view these conflicts.  A lack of narrator decreases biased viewpoints on the issues and increases the reality of the situation.

The episode concludes with the gang coming together to make, a now single, Jess feel better.  They all run around a fancy street early in the morning yelling to get them to turn their Christmas lights on.  One by one the lights come on and Jess, along with the gang, are filled with joy.  A honestly heart warming scene that brought me pre holiday joy.

One of the writers of this episode, Nick Adams, is also the writer of “How to make friends with Black People” a book on bridging racial gaps in society.  Through this process I’m sure he wrote about many interpersonal connections and struggles, similar to the ones portrayed on this episode of New Girl.

In conclusion, the writers of New Girl, like their writing, are subtly good, aspects such as silence, lack of narrator and setting contribute to sympathy of the viewer, and I am now in the Christmas spirit!

Juxtaposition of an Awkward Position

I’m not sure how the rest of you feel, but when I think of cinematography I think of CGI explosions and huge blockbuster movies like Star Wars or The Avengers.

This means when looking at the cinematography of a show like New Girl my mindset required an adjustment.  But since then, I’ve realized the importance of direction in all forms of media, including television shows.  These shows are filled with purposeful decisions made by the director that alter the way in which the show is delivered.  And today I’m going to go more into depth on how these nuances guide the production of a New Girl episode!

The most recent episode of New Girl, Naked, was by far my favorite.  The concept of this episode is that Jess walks in on a singing and very naked Nick before a big date which results in him losing all self confidence.  At the same time Winston is having a hard time finding a job due to his love of basketball.  The clever aspects of direction I will focus on are the juxtaposition of setting and action, and the running of parallel story lines.

While watching this episode I had to pause it multiple times because the image on the screen was hilarious.  For evidence of this:  Please look below.

  What makes each of these funny is the fact that the actions being preformed don’t make sense in the given setting.  Examples:  Dancing naked… in front of a (semi-close) friend, discussing embarrassing moments… in an elevator with a stranger, checking your friend out… while he’s using the urinal.  These images all host a contrast between conventional setting and unconventional actions.  This is purposefully done by the directing team to make the character’s seem every more ridiculous and hilarious.  I think this is a common tactic by the crew for New Girl because of the contrasting nature of the show based in the stark differences between Jess and the guys.

The second aspect of the show which was cleverly directed was the running of similar plot lines.  Both Nick and Winston are having confidence issues (Nick with dating life and Winston with his career).  Jess and Schmidt respectively work to boost Nick and Winston’s confidence.  And as the similar story progress the show quickly pans back and forth between the two parties at play.  This move by the director is done to show both the similarities and differences of our characters.

Through this rapid back and forth from scene to scene the audience see’s how Nick and Winston both are doubting themselves and their decisions.  The director uses this to create sympathy for the characters.  The director also shows the different ways in which characters deal with their doubts (dancing to Jamaican music and crying over one’s wikipedia page).  This hilarious contrast is used to get laughs, successfully so I might add.

New Girl certainly isn’t a blockbuster action movie but it’s cinematography and direction should not be ignored.


Research Question regarding Women’s Occupations in Television

What are the occupations held by women within drama television shows presented on ABC’s website and do they accurately represent the reality of the working world?


Through research into women’s representation in television it became apparent that there is significant data relating to the type of work that women are typically portrayed as doing.  It was also apparent that much research has been conducted investigating the types of roles women have in the actual working world. However, seemingly little work has been done to investigate the connection between television portrayal and reality when it comes to this topic, thus we decided the bridge this gap and investigate the accuracy of television in this aspect.  


Our investigation focuses specifically on ABC because it is at the forefront of modern television.  Roseanne, ABC’s most popular show during the 2017-18 season, reached over thirteen million viewers. This is the second most watched scripted show of all networks, edging even most prime-time football programs.  Given its monstrous audience and epidemic influence, we saw it necessary to examine the veracity of depicted character roles. This will hold ABC accountable as a network and ensure fairness in representation. Many viewers of popular television shows falsely interpret what’s presented by the network as fact and use it to shape future opinions.


For why research into this topic maters, over the past 50 years television has become a huge form of media that both reflects and impacts reality.  The content of a television show can alter one’s mindset, create stereotypes, and lead to spreading of misinformation. This is why it is important to compare television content with actuality, so that we may not build assumptions on false ideas.  When it comes to the topic at hand, gender representation in various occupations, understanding the gap between television and reality is important because a mass misunderstanding could lead to a negative impact on the working world. For example, if television shows display all female characters as having interpersonal jobs, such as teaching and real estate agents, then this may affect the mindset of young women watching the shows.  Then there would be a lopsidedness to the working world with a surplus of women limiting themselves to interpersonal jobs rather than exploring their true passions and talents. And with the rapid pace in which children assess information and develop cognitive standards, the attitudes and experiences witnessed on TV can quickly spawn stereotypes in the minds of children and teens which severely affects the future of the working world.  

“ABC 2017-18 Season Ratings.” TV Series Finale, 24 Sept. 2018, tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/abc-2017-18-season-ratings/. Accessed 28 Sep. 2018.


Moraes, Lisa de, and Patrick Hipes. “2017-18 TV Series Ratings Rankings: NFL Football, ‘Big Bang’ Top Charts.” Deadline, 23 May 2018, deadline.com/2018/05/2017-2018-tv-series-ratings-rankings-full-list-of-shows-1202395851/. Accessed 28 Sep. 2018.

Jess teaching valuable lessons

I’ll be honest, the first two episodes of New Girl didn’t quite “hook” me, but episode three both hooked me and taught some valuable lessons in the process.  Any show that can spread a positive message while making me laugh earns my respect as a T.V. viewer.  This episode focuses on two main themes: dealing with past relationships and being true to ones self.  I want to discuss the latter and less obvious theme so let’s go!

Having the confidence to be your self is a theme that naturally come’s along with Jess’s quirky personality, however, this episodes shows her, and Schmidt, struggle to do so.  When the whole gang get’s ready to go to a wedding, Nick requests the help of Jess to be his fake girlfriend to make his ex, Caroline, jealous.  After a couple of drinks Nick begins to fall for Caroline again, Jess begins to make a fool of herself and Winston begins a fight with a child (let’s not dwell on that).  Jess, trying to be a good friend, pushes Caroline away leading to an outburst from Nick where he calls her a “ruiner”.  Jess is now stuck in a place where the guys don’t want her to be herself, but they got mad at her even when she tried to be different… alright now let’s look at the struggles of Schmidt.

Schmidt, the wannabe lady killer, spends the whole night trying to find a way to “get with” a girl he is supposedly crazy for.  But the whole night he ignores the advances of a girl named Gretchen with whom he shares an odd (mainly sexual) connection with.  

The only problem is, this girl isn’t exactly his type.  Schmidt ends up miserably chasing after a girl with whom he doesn’t connect because she would be better for his appearance and confidence.  He ignores his true desires, his true self because he’s worried about the thoughts of others.  Also, I know this might be too deep of an analysis of the womanizer that is Schmidt, but I really do believe it was the writer’s intentions to convey this message in parallel with Jess’s struggles.

So what happened?!  Well once Jess decided to unleash the weirdness that is her personality, she and the guys ended up having a great time blowing bubbles (don’t ask just watch).  And for Schmidt?  He ended up getting with Gretchen and I assume he enjoyed it.  So once our favorite characters decided to do what they really wanted to do, the results are better for everyone.  Sends a pretty clear message and set’s up a theme I think New Girl will relate to in many upcoming episodes.  And I promise to keep you updated.



Annotated Bibliography

Work Cited


Peer Reviewed

Berg, Leah R. Vande and Diane Streckfuss. “Prime-Time Television’s Portrayal of Women and the World of Work: A Demographic Profile.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 36, no. 2, Spring92, p. 195. EBSCOhost, prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9208170546&site=ehost-live.


“Prime-Time Television’s Portrayal of Women and the World of Work: A Demographic Profile.” analyses prime-time shows and their respective representation of women in the working world.  Indicates that women in television are underrepresented and forced into limited possible occupations. Women are also typically shown as performing more interpersonal actions whereas men are shown as working in political and decisive positions.

This article will be useful in the fact that it defines the type of jobs that women are typically limited to and help to further identify potential stereotypical occupations.  The results revealed in this study will be used specifically as support for the idea that Women’s occupational roles in television are not accurate of societal norms since this article directly compares popular television representations to actual industry statistics.  Further, this article will provide numerical data for the ideas of women being underrepresented in television due to it’s largely quantitative set of statistics provided throughout the article.



Peer Reviewed

Gregori-Signes, Carmen. “”Apparently, Women Don’t Know how to Operate Doors”: A Corpus-Based Analysis of Women Stereotypes in the TV Series 3rd Rock from the Sun.” International Journal of English Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, 2017, pp. 21-43. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1977738284?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2017/2/257311.


“Apparently, Women Don’t Know how to Operate Doors” analyses the portrayal of women and their roles (including occupations) in the American sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun”.  The article focuses on the reliance of the writers on using stereotypes regarding women as a constant source for humor. The data provided in the article is both qualitative and quantitative providing many examples from which one could draw.

This article is imperative to the research being conducted since it is specific to female portrayal in an American sitcom.  Although occupational portrayal is not the main focus, it is part of the spectrum of which the author of the article examines stereotype enforcement.  This article will also be a helpful source due to the large amount of examples the author provides from “3rd Rock from the Sun”. These examples will be used to compare television portrayals to societal actualities which will eventually provide evidence towards an answer for the overall question regarding female occupations in television as compared to reality.        



Peer Reviewed

Lacalle, Charo, and Beatriz Gómez. “The Representation of Workingwomen in Spanish Television Fiction/La Representación De Las Mujeres Trabajadoras En La Ficción Televisiva Española.” Comunicar, vol. 24, no. 47, 2016, pp. 59-67. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1781327887?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3916/C47-2016-06.


“The Representation of Workingwomen in Spanish Television Fiction” is an article that examines 709 female characters in fictional spanish programs.  This project uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the roles in the show of female characters including their occupation. Results of the study showed that many female characters remain in stereotypical situations being caregivers or members of customer service, whereas other female characters are shown as skilled professionals.  Subsequently, the female characters shown in non-traditional roles are often associated with negative representations of the character.

This paper is crucial to investigating the at hand topic by providing evidence and examples for female characters locked into traditional occupations.  Also, this paper is interesting in the way in which is shows the “connection” the exists between traditional roles and positive representation by exhibiting female characters of power who are associated with the negative aspects of the story.  Although this source is not exclusively regarding sitcoms it still remains important since it includes examples from spanish comedies (sitcoms).



Peer Reviewed

Lippa, Richard A., et al. “Women’s Representation in 60 Occupations from 1972 to 2010: More Women in High-Status Jobs, Few Women in Things-Oriented Jobs.” PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 5, May 2014, pp. 1–8. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095960.

“Women’s Representation in 60 Occupations from 1972 to 2010: More Women in High-Status Jobs, Few Women in Things-Oriented Jobs.” explores trends in 60 occupations over a course of 38 years to see the growing representation of women in the working world.  The study separated occupations into categories by status, people-things orientation, and data-ideas orientation. Results showed that women are increasingly entering occupations of high status, but their participation in thing oriented jobs (mechanics, construction, etc) remained low and unchanged throughout the years.   The article uses evidence to compare sex segregation theories and stereotypes to reality.

This article will be crucial to research since it will be used as a representation of reality.  Unlike other sources, the focus of this paper lies on statistics regarding the working world rather than television.  All data and research into television will be compared and contrasted to this source to assist with the papers conclusion.  



Peer Reviewed

McCauley, Clark, et al. “Sex Stereotyping of Occupations in Relation to Television Representations and Census Facts.” Basic & Applied Social Psychology, vol. 9, no. 3, Sept. 1988, pp. 197-212. EBSCOhost, prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=7301410&site=ehost-live.


The source “Sex Stereotyping of Occupations in Relation to Television Representations and Census Facts.” examines the effects of television on the distortion of social views regarding gender stereotypes of occupations.  This is done by surveying high schoolers, college students, and train passengers on their estimates regarding the demographic of commonly stereotyped occupational fields. These results were then compared to U.S. Census Data and gender portrayals on television.  Results showed that television was not responsible for the distortion of the perception of reality since the participants overestimated gender equality in occupations.

The value of this source lies in the fact that it was conducted in a scientific manner giving it empirical significance, and that the results undermine the popular belief that television changes social perception on gender in the working world.  The topic at hand is the portrayal of Women’s occupations in sitcoms, and what this article provides is a context for the importance of the topic. This article actually discredits the topic by saying that portrayal on television doesn’t affect personal beliefs.  This paper will be used as a counterpoint and as a source of data on the topic.



Peer Reviewed

Paek, Hye-jin, Michelle R. Nelson, and Alexandra M. Vilela. “Examination of Gender-Role Portrayals in Television Advertising Across Seven Countries.” Sex Roles, vol. 64, no. 3-4, 2011, pp. 192-207. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/850508440?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9850-y.


The study “Examination of Gender-Role Portrayals in Television Advertising Across Seven Countries.” is a meta analysis of 2,608 commercials looking at the uses of men and women in different situations.  The paper finds that women are typically portrayed as the product user, being dependent on others and often found at home. This paper then looks at how these portrayals correlate to common stereotypes relating to gender.

    Even though the focus of this paper lies in commercials it remains relevant because it lays a groundwork for the cause and effect relationship between television representation and the propagation of stereotypes in society.  The information provided in this article can be used to define portrayals that may or may not be stereotypical, as well as how to examine the impact this has on society. Also this information gives a cross cultural base from which the question at hand may be answered since it originates from 7 countries.      









Putting the Girl in New Girl

So far in this course, I’ve watched a lot of television and tweeted more often than I ever have before, and if I’m being honest I’ve enjoyed it.  And as much fun as it is to watch these great shows it’s easy to forget that there is a purpose here, and it is to investigate how feminism is making an impact on modern day television.  So let’s get to it, let’s look at the portrayal of gender in New Girl.

Firstly let’s break down the representation of gender within the main character’s.  There are a total of 6 main characters as of now:  5 male and 2 female.  The four male characters (Nick, Schmidt, Coach and Winston) all live together with Jess.  The two female characters (Jess, and Cece) are best friends going through an interesting point in their lives with Jess recently moving in with the guys.

The men do perpetuate the common idea that all guys in their 20’s love to drink beer, go to bars, and watch sports.  Schmidt’s stereotypically male character, who is obsessed with hooking up with attractive random girls, is balanced by Nick’s emotionally vulnerable persona.  Then there is Coach who’s so guyish that he can’t talk to women (hilariously so).

Then there’s the female characters and for the purpose of this blog we are going to ignore Cece since (two episodes in) she hasn’t contributed much to the plot line.  So let’s talk about Jess.  Jess is an emotionally unstable grade school teacher who loves to sing to herself and, no matter how hard she tries, can’t seem to be one of the guys.  There is a strong dynamic that exists in the show based upon the fact that the guys and Jess are fundamentally very different, but not in the way that I expected.  I expected Jess to be an over the top feminine character who struggles to deal with the guys life.  Instead, Jess struggles to fit in with the guys, not because she’s girly, but because she’s incredibly awkward (and fun to watch).

Jess stands out as a very unique female character the likes of which I haven’t seen before in a comedy.  And perhaps the most interesting part of this show is that Jess and her actions are the driving force of the show.  No matter the advice given by other characters or the desires of others, the show relies on Jess to make decisions to move the plot of the story.  You might think this is obvious since Jess is the main character, however, in other shows this is not the case.  For example, in Jane the Virgin, Jane is the main character but her decisions usually have little effect on the storyline and rather the decisions of those around her drive the plot.  New Girl stars a unique female lead who is, without a doubt, making her own decisions and in charge of her own life.  An interesting development when looking at feminism in television.

Beginning Of The End

My name is Alex Mealey and I am an Aerospace Engineering Major from Orlando, Florida.  I would like to graduate in 2022 but I wouldn’t be too upset if I were to graduate in 2023.

(me in 2023) “oh well”

I’ve been taking english classes since 6th grade and I’m both excited and sad to say this will be my final english class.  In the past, english class have always been one of my lighter classes usually consisting of reading books, writing book reports, and writing off a prompt.  It wasn’t until my junior year when I took IB HL English that I really began to appreciate what I was learning in English.  In this class we spent our time working on our writing styles and analyzing the writing style’s found within articles, movie scripts, novels, blogs and other forms of media.  This class challenged me since the grading was much tougher, however, this was the first time that I began to appreciate all of the applications for my english class.

Looking at the WOVEN aspects of communication I personally enjoy Oral communication the most.  I love to talk in small groups as well as give speeches to large crowds.  I feel more comfortable using my words on the spot than writing words on a paper.  I think the written aspect of WOVEN would be my weakest mode simply because my writing isn’t very captivating.  I hope to improve this through reading the works of good writers in this class.

When it comes to feminism in television my experience is limited to just watching TV with female characters.  I am a pretty big TV fan though, with my favorite shows ranging from Psych to How I Met Your Mother all the way to Rick and Morty.  Most of the TV I watch comes from platforms such as Netflix and Hulu since I don’t have the patience to wait for a week per episode.  I’m very excited to expand my horizons by watching TV shows I wouldn’t typically pay attention to.  For example, I already really enjoyed the good place.

“You like the good place too?! Holy shirt!”

Finally, for my TV show I have chosen to watch New Girl.  New Girl is light hearted and comical, the kind of show I usually enjoy, however I’ve just never gotten around to it.  I also have some high school friends who swore this show was hilarious so I’m giving it a try.  The premise behind the show is that a newly single young woman, “Jess”, moves into an apartment with three also young men.  The show follows the group as they struggle with relationships, and go on hilarious adventures.

Jess is truly an odd character

For updates on my experience with New Girl check out my twitter @MealeyAlex.  Well this is it, my first blog post for my last English class… very bittersweet.  Welcome to the beginning, beginning of the end (wow that sounds way more sinister that I thought it would but I kind of like it).


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