English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Bruce Qin

Flight Attendant to Astronaut

A parent’s biggest worry is perhaps the future of his/her children. In Season 2, Episode 14 of Fresh Off the Boat, Michael Chang Fever, Emery and Evan came home with their results for prospective careers based on their personalities. Much to Jessica’s surprise, while Evan scored surgeon general, Emery was suggested to become a flight attendant. Jessica explains to Emery that flight attendants are essentially the “homeless of the sky” and encouraged him to learn tennis after hearing that professional tennis players can earn up to 15 million dollars. Emery demonstrated natural talents and quickly rose through the rankings of a tennis tournament; however, he ended up firing his parents as his coach and began training with Billie Jean King. Jessica and Louis understood that their son only made this choice to become a better tennis player, and supported Emery’s decision. After winning the tournament, Emery explained to Jessica and Louis he didn’t want to devote his life to tennis at the moment and wishes to stop playing the sport. The only thing the parents said was: “whatever you want to do, we support you.”


This episode revolves around the main question of who should decide the child’s future. Should parents encourage their kids to follow their heart or guide them in directions that the parents believe are good? Jessica refused to let Emery follow the path of becoming a flight attendant, but she realized that Emery’s opinion is very important in making this decision as it is Emery’s life and Emery’s future. In the end, the Huangs decided to embrace their child’s choice, but guide Emery in a slightly different direction: becoming an astronaut. Making a compromise is perhaps the best outcome of the situation, Jessica wants the best for Emery while allowing him to do what he wants with his life.

Emery with his new tennis coach

This episode focuses on a very simple and prevalent issue with parenting and shows how the Huang family guided Emery in career choices. The comedic elements played very well alongside the main story, consistent with the show’s way of portraying the family and the obstacles they overcome.

Jessica Huang, the star of the show

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


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


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


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


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

Jessica’s parenting style

The Real Santa?

The theme of a TV show determines the central focus of the story, it is able to connect the characters and the plots to demonstrate the message from the director. In The Real Santa (Episode 10, Season 2) of Fresh Off the Boat, the story focuses on the Huang family celebrating Christmas. There are two subplots in the episode: Jessica and Louis trying to convince Evan of who Santa really is and Emery and Eddie trying to find the perfect present for their mother.


One of the main question posed in this episode is: “Who is Santa Claus?” Jessica believed that Santa needs to be “improved” and tries to instill values upon Evan by trying to create a Santa Claus who is a scientist that graduated from Princeton. When the plan for Marvin to act as Santa backfired, Jessica told Evan that Santa is actually Chinese! At this part of the story, the question of “Why Can’t Santa be Chinese?” is raised. Instead of forcing everyone to believe the white and chubby Santa Claus and sticking to the norm, Jessica’s version of an intelligent Chinese lady as Santa offers a look on diversity as a part of Christmas culture. In the end, Jessica successfully convinced Evan of her version of Christmas, and Eddie and Emery were both able to find amazing presents for their mother.


Jessica as Santa Claus


This particular episode relates to the show overall as the Huang family finds balance between their traditional Chinese values and the American culture. Throughout the show, the Huang family sees the differences between the two cultures but are able to find the pros and cons of both and adjust appropriately to the new environment. In this episode specifically, Emery and Eddie were able to learn what “good presents” really are, and Jessica was able to create a different concept of Santa Claus. It was an interesting episode as it wasn’t the usual gift and Santa Christmas episode and offers a cultural twist on the idea of the holiday.

Cinematography of Family Business Trip

Other than the main plot, cinematography is another essential factor directors use to communicate with the viewers. The way the director has designed the lighting, color themes, and shot choices can drastically change the viewer’s experience and the way the show is perceived. Lighting and color scheme can determine the mood of a particular episode and shot choices can create dramatic effects for action or dialogue. I decided to look how the directors designed the first episode of season two of Fresh off the Boat.


The episode begins with a flashback of scenes from the previous season, which is slightly darkened to give the typical “flashback” effect; however, it is not completely black and white like other scenes of flashbacks. It then changes back to the usual calming color theme that was predominant in season one. Since the show focuses on a family in a suburban neighborhood, it doesn’t necessarily have the vibrant colors of a big city but rather the color theme of a middle-class neighborhood in suburban Orlando. The shots vary in length as conversational shots are short and switches from character to character to focus on their facial expressions and responses to the conversation. Other shots could be longer but most of the comedic effects come from the conversations between the characters; therefore, the show has mostly short but well cut shots.


I chose the first episode of season two: Family Business Trip as it isn’t shot in the Huang’s house but rather at a resort that they went to. Instead of being mostly filmed in an indoor setting, many scenes of this episode showed the Huang family hanging out at the pool or at Gatorworld. As the scenes were shot in an outdoor setting, they were very well lit and portrays the idea of a family vacation in the hot, sunny summer. The indoor shots’ color theme and lighting remained relatively consistent with other episodes of the show.

Grandma enjoying her new hair at the pool

I think it is very interesting to notice how the show is filmed; I don’t always notice the cinematography behind each episodes but deliberately thinking about these factors made the show much more interesting to watch.

Women and the News (Bibliography)

Representing Women? Leadership Roles and Women in Canadian Broadcast News.

Cukier, Wendy, et al. “Representing Women? Leadership Roles and Women in Canadian Broadcast News.” Gender Management” An International Journal, vol. 31, no. 5/6, 18 Apr. 2016, pp. 374–395., doi:10.1108/GM-04-2015-0035.


This study mainly focused on four major Canadian news broadcasting companies to study the representation of women on Canadian media. The study mainly took into account of: how women appear on media, whether women are portrayed positively or negatively, and women’s roles on media. The results showed that although the percentage of appearance is similar, there were different expectations of appearances for women, women are under-represented as leaders and experts, portrayed more negatively, and more likely to be quoted. An interesting difference in the statistics is that the one private broadcaster that was in the study showed better results than the three public broadcasters. The statistics and findings are compared to previously done research in the same field and showed similar results. The research were done on four major news broadcasters in a major city in Canada, providing us with credible statistics and information. This study is useful for our research as it provides a view of women on media from a different country, showing that the under-representation of women is a global issue.


Women and News: A Long and Winding Road.

Ross, Karen, and Cynthia Carter. “Women and News: A Long and Winding Road.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 33, no. 8, 22 Nov. 2011, pp. 1148–1165., doi:10.1177/0163443711418272.


With data from the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), this study examines the improvements in women’s representation in the media. There has been a steady but slow increase in women’s visibility in the news; however, the statistics from GMMP shows that following the same progress, it will take another 43 years to achieve gender parity. The statistics show that political topics are often covered by men and women are left with “softe” topics. These statistics are improved in Asia and the Middle East as 43% and 48% of political stories are written by women, respectively; whereas the percentages are 32% for Europe and 27% for America. Female reporters often encounter problems when they are paired with an older man and loses the opportunities to present “serious” material; they also face the dilemma of “ageism,” which does not seem to affect male announcers as much. Though there are steadily more women journalists, it is still extremely difficult for them to rise to higher positions as the journalist field remains based on “masculine news values.” This study provided similar statistics showing that the women are gaining more recognition but many problems and obstacles still remain. It is useful for our research as it included interesting statistics that contrasted the different regions, showing that female reporters from the Middle East and Asia have slightly more access to political news than reporters from Europe and America. It is also worthwhile to note the problem of ageism, as it proposes a major difference of expectation from male and female reporters.


Journalist and Source Gender in Australian Television News.

Cann, David J., and Philip B. Mohr. “Journalist and Source Gender in Australian Television News.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 45, no. 1, 7 June 2010, pp. 162–174., doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4501_10.


Analyzing the prime-time news broadcasts, Australian researchers have concluded that despite the rise of female journalists, gender remains an essential factor in Australian news broadcasting. The balance of female and male anchors/announcers are slowly becoming equal; however, the main problem remains that the categories of news given to female announcers are drastically different from those given to male broadcasters. The study has shown that male reporters dominated in Politics (76.3%) and Male Sports (92.8%) while female reporters were dominant in Health topics (83.3%). These statistics relates to the concept of “soft news,” general events, and “hard news,” specific events. This issue has been addressed in other studies and continues to be prevalent as female reporters are unable to gain equal opportunities as male reporters. The researchers acknowledged that the statistics may not be representative of the entire Australian news broadcasting system, but the prime-time broadcasts studied are the major broadcasts in Australia. This study is useful for our research as it suggests the problem with female journalist isn’t simply the number of jobs offered to them but also their responsibilities and opportunities as a news anchor/announcer.


Why Can’t Hollywood Get Female Journalists Right?

Cogan, Marin. “Why Can’t Hollywood Get Female Journalists Right?” Daily Intelligencer, 16 Jan. 2015, nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/hollywood-female-journalists.html.


This article from the New York Magazine comments and critiques on Hollywood’s portrayal of female reporters. Starting with a personal anecdote, author Marine Cogan recalls an incident where two teenagers joked that she would sleep with a football player to write a profile for the ESPN. This incident made Cogan question how female reporters are represented in popular media. The misrepresentation in popular TV shows such as House of Cards, where two female reporters were willing to do anything for a story, and Thank You for Smoking, where the reporter seduced “an ethically challenged tobacco lobbyist,” female reporters are often given the depiction of someone who sleeps with the sources. Rather than being a purely fictional problem, Cogan writes that many of her co-workers have experienced incidents where their professional interests were mistaken as personal ones. Since media is a dominant and influential factor in our society, it is crucial to realize that female reports are poorly represented and to fix the stereotypes. This article contributes to our research as it may offer a potential reason for the discrepancy between female and male roles on the news. How does the misrepresentation of female reporters in the media affect opportunities in the journalism field for women in real life?

What We Lose When We Lose Female Reporters.

Fong, Mei. “What We Lose When We Lose Female Reporters.” The New York Times, 11 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/female-pay-carrie-gracie.html.


This article from the Guardian is written on BBC’s attempt to improve the lack of women in journalism. The Lords committee in the UK has recently provided evidence that there are three times as many male reporters as there are female ones. The facts show that women are underrepresented as staff and experts in the field of news and current affairs broadcasting and that discriminatory problems still exist for women. Reports has shown that barriers such as ageism is still prevalent as there the over-50 male workforce is significantly larger than the female workforce in channels such as ITV News and Channel 4. BBC has taken measures such as the Expert Women training program and support for women presenters on local radio to improve the situation. Other solutions include more transparent recruitment and pay, flexible hours, and better gender balance. The problems pointed out in this article is also mentioned in other sources, confirming the validity of the concerns and the need for change. This article is useful as it provides some potential measures news broadcasters can take to ensure equal opportunities for women.  


BBC Told to Tackle Lack of Women in News Broadcasting.

Conlan, Tara. “BBC Told to Tackle Lack of Women in News Broadcasting.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Jan. 2015, www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/16/bbc-told-tackle-lack-women-news.


When the British government asked BBC to release the salaries for their top on-air announcers, Carrie Gracie quit as she discovered that BBC paid their male editors 50% more than female editors. This “gross inequality” reflects the pay gap and the barriers for women to earn equal pay. Report has shown that Dow Jones, an American publishing company, pays the male employees on average 15% more than the female employees. The pay gap is especially unfair as the employees would hold the same job title and worked a similar amount of time; their age and work location is also taken into consideration. The pay gap has caused many women to quit their jobs, leaving the field of journalism with a more male-dominant perspective. This is troubling as having a balance of male and female reporters will introduce different perspectives and presentations of current events. Since the media is such a predominant part of our society, having a male-dominated viewpoint could be detrimental to how the world perceive events. This article is useful as it provides a concrete example of an experienced female reporter’s struggles. It offers another reason as to why women struggle in the field of journalism, on top of the barriers of ageism.

Writing of “So Chineez”

After watching the first season of Fresh off the Boat, there were many interesting episodes that touched on a variety of topics, this blog post will be written about episode thirteen: So Chineez. Episode thirteen was written by Nahnatchka Khan and directed by Chris Koch. Director Chris Koch is also known for being the director for shows such as Modern Family, Scrubs, The Neighbors , etc. and Nahnatchka Khan is known for writing and producing episodes for shows such as American Dad!, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, Always Be My Maybe.


The episode begins with different scenes of the family members in their habitual settings, voiced over by Eddie Huang. Eddie describes: “I became my school’s first black president, dad put the restaurant on the map,  my brothers were still nerds, grandma was busy doing her thing, but no one was fitting in better than mom, she was down with “Melrose Place,” Hip-hop music is played in the back, similar to the beginnings of other episodes. It is arguable how Eddie’s voice over helps the show, but it shows that it is from Eddie (one of the main characters)’s perspective. The narration isn’t necessarily consistent; however, most episodes begin and ends with Eddie’s narration and hip-hop music.


In the episode, the dialogues mainly focused on the Huang family, Eddie and his friends at school, and Louis with his new country-club friends. One major use of silence was when Louis called his newly-found business partner Ted an “Ass wipe.” The club members’ smiles disappeared as Louis realized that his joke was “too far.” Louis then apologizes and says he is still learning as the other club members laugh it off and continue to play tennis. This scene shows how Louis is fitting in at the club and learning the “traditions,” similar to how his family is fitting into the new Orlando culture. Even though there was an awkward silence, the club members simply laughed it off when Louis apologized to Ted.


The conversation between Eddie and Trent at the cross-cultural fair showed Jessica that Eddie is proud of his heritage and remembers what she has taught him about Chinese traditions and culture. As Eddie proudly told Trent of his heritage, there was the external reference to The Four Great Inventions, The Great Wall of China, and the 5000 years of Chinese history.

Huang family’s new license plate at the end of season 1

I think this episode was a good way to end the season as it continues to explore racial/cultural identity in a comedic manner. The show began with the Huang family struggling to fit in, and through season one they were able to each find their own place in the community. It ends positively and leaves the audience to wonder what will happen in the next season. It is clear that each character still has a lot of room for development as Louis is looking to open another branch for his restaurant, Jessica is reflecting on “who she is,” and the kids are slowly growing up.

Fresh off to 1102

Hi everyone, my name is Bruce Qin. I am a freshman at Tech (Class of 2022); I am currently majoring in computer engineering but planning to switch to electrical engineering.


In highschool, I took AP Capstone AP English Language and Composition. These courses exposed to research writing and a wide variety of readings. ENGL 1102 is my first english class at Tech and I’m very excited to learn about Television and Feminism. Over the past years, I’ve been trying to improve my oral communication skills as well as broaden the types of books I read. We had annual public speaking events and I was able to try different types of presentations such as persuasive speech, TED talks, and interpretive reading. Being able to experience these different types of public speaking helped me become a better speaker and learn how to integrate the various components of WOVEN. This semester and in the near future, I hope to read both fiction and non-fiction literatures on different topics so I can gain more knowledge in distinct fields.


I never watch cable but I would often catch up on shows when they are released on Netflix. I have seen shows such as The Good Place, Sense8, Orange is the New Black, etc. However, when I rewatched The Good Place for ENGL 1102 and tried to understand the show rather than simply watching for the plot, it was a different experience. I was able to better understand how aspect such as color and music affected the atmosphere and the deeper meanings behind the comical commentaries. I’m excited to discuss about the TV shows we will be watching for class rather than simply binging through them on the weekend.

Fresh Off the Boat, TV show I will be writing about in blog post.

Similar comedy show about Asian-American family.

I have chosen to watch Fresh off the Boat to watch for my blog entries. It focuses on an Asian-American family trying to adapt to the American culture during the 1990s. I have seen a trailer of the show before and I’ve wanted to watch it but never had a chance yet. I have also seen another comedy show that had a similar plot of an Asian-American family making their way in the US and really enjoyed it. I’ll try to understand the show from different perspectives and think about what the director has done to develop the show.

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