English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Daniela Larranaga Fajardo

GA Tackling Gender Biased Representation In Medicine

After doing more than just “watching” Grey’s Anatomy, and actually understanding what composes and makes this show such a success, I decided to do a blog post based on how has has gender representation made this long-time running show an accomplishment.

In first instance some may say Grey’s Anatomy female power caught a lot of people’s attention, and some other may say it is the drama related to the female to male relationships that actually make it interesting. However, for me, is the fact that Grey’s Anatomy has managed to tackle down medicine’s gender biased day to day image what has inspired the audience to continue watching and to make a difference when fighting for women rights and equality.

To support the statement presented in the previous paragraph, there are several elements of the show that we could analyze in order to understand how Grey’s Anatomy tumbles down gender biased representation in the area of the medicine. First of all, female characters are the principal “hard-core” workers of the show. Going from the chief of surgery to the head of each speciality, and even to the interns that just arrived, there’s always a majority of female characters that stand out to be better doctors than many of the men who end up giving up or feeling nervous next to their co-workers (just as it happened with Alex at the very beginning of the show where he felt intimidated by Meredith and her innate ability). Additionally, the show also treats sexism in medicine as a principal theme that tends to be ignored in most real-life cases. In one of the last episodes that have been released, Miranda Bailey (the chief of surgery) gets a heart attack. Through this event, she is taken to the hospital where she has to address the fact that “cleaning the house”, “taking care of the children”, or “wasting too much time doing chores”, weren’t stress factors  (that could’ve caused her sickness) present in her life, as she actually worked the hardest she could. This is very important as this image has come to be the reflection of many women’s life in the contemporary world.

No caption needed. Dr. Bailey breaking gender stereotypes to its fullest

In conclusion, if there is a way to make a show successful nowadays, breaking gender representation biased image in professional roles is definitely the way to go. Grey’s Anatomy (and Shonda Rhyme’s shows in general) have managed to show this for over 10 years of emotional and wonderful seasons that have created a special bond between women who aspire to thrive in life and do more than what everyone simply tends to believe they “should do”.

Women Rocking at Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy, with no hesitation, knows how to break and make up your heart (at the same time) in a blink of an eye. In other words, you never know what to expect. However, although this may be true 99 percent of the times, there is one enormous exception: Gender representation in the show.

Grey’s Anatomy is a series that encourages inclusion of all gender and sexual orientation. With this, both men and women are represented as equally important. Nevertheless, it is vital to highlight that female to tend to be reinforce as a strong and dominant gender throughout the entire series. An example of this can be seen on the fact that almost all head of surgical departments are women (Arizona Robbins- head of pediatrics, Meredith Grey- Head of general surgery, Maggy Pierce- Head of cardiothoracic surgery, Miranda Bailey- Chief), and most of the scenes are focus on what goes around the life of each of this characters (meaning that yes, female gender does receive a bit more of representation in the show).

Meredith Grey- happy and successful (the mirror image of how all women should feel about theirselves) 

Additionally, the now 15 entire seasons show, has always been centered in Meredith Grey, the protagonist. This is important as little by little we’ve seen the rite of passage she has gone through to become a strong and “bad-ass” women. Since the beginning, Meredith felt that she was under the shadow of her famous mother and her successful lover, however, the producers have made a great job of allowing her to see that she is actually the sun of her own life and that she’s capable of everything, which is something all women should learn from and act upon it.

In general, not only Grey’s Anatomy, but Shonda Rhymes as a whole, does a great job in exhibiting female gender as strong, important, and powerful as male. Knowing this, we shall not take this representation slightly, we should reflect on it and try to act based on the things we’ve learned from it.

Cinematographic effects used to show Derek’s dark death :( and one of the saddest moments of my life

Grey’s Anatomy, season 11 episode 21… an episode that I think will always stay remembered in our hearts and our minds. This episode, in charge of showing the death of one of the most loved characters, Derek Shepherd, used different cinematographic techniques that made our hearts teared apart little by little.


The episode starts with a bunch of  vanished quick shots that show some of the most important moments of Meredith and Derek Shepherd’s life. In addition to this, there’s a shattering image of police sirens in the background that indicate us, since the beginning, that something is for sure going to be wrong. As the episode goes on, shots go back to normal, some of them tend to be a little longer than others, but they are all shown through different angles (in the case of the car crash we are able to see through both the inside of Sara and Winnie’s car, and through the overall scene of the accident), which makes it interesting and captivating. The first half part of the episode is shot during the day, including bright and natural colors (like blue, green and yellow). However, when Derek (one of the primary characters) gets tremendously injured in a moment that we never expected, the screen goes all black and the cinematography of the episode starts to change immediately after that.

This is one of the quick throw back shots shown at the beginning, middle, and end of the episode  :(

Although it is exactly at the half of the episode that Derek’s accident happened, the transition in cinematographic effects goes back to the same they used at that beginning (a bunch of quick shots that showed some of the most important moments of Meredith and Derek’s life with the shattering image of police sirens in the background), indicating us that since that moment things will just go darker and darker. After this happens, the time of the day changes too, it passes from morning-noon to night, which makes all of the shots darker and sadder. The shots continue to transition from different angles, focusing on the face of Derek when he’s thoughts are being played in the background, and on the general image of the hospital when other important things were going on. Finally,  there are other two important cinematographic moments: when the police goes to Meredith’s house and tells that there’s been an accident (showing again a shattering image of police sirens on top of Meredith’s overwhelmed and shocked face), and when it comes the moment for Derek to pass away (ending the episode again with the remembrance of quick shots that show some of the best and happier moments of Derek Sheperd).


In general, this episode’s cinematographic use is not like all of the others because it is suppose to be a much more dramatic, sad and emotional moment for the show. As sad and resentful fans may feel about this, there’s no denial that lights and special cinematographic effects stand out through the entire episode.


What is the proportion of women to men employed for the recording and production of 5 long time running shows on ABC?

How did we arrive to the research question?

When we started trying to figure out what should our research question be, we were very confused because there were a thousand different factors we could research about, however, once we completed our annotated bibliography, we analyzed the data and conclusions of several peer reviewed articles, and realized that there is not only a large pay gap between male and female workers in the television broadcasting industry, but there is also a large employment gap between men and women. Due to the difficulty in finding accurate statistics of employees of an entire broadcasting channel, such as ABC, we will be sampling from the 5 longest running and currently airing television shows across their many season spans. To do this we will study the credits for episodes randomly selected from each season and determine the ratio of male to female workers in the industry.


Why does the research question matter? 

With the rise in television shows with more representation all around and more public demand for representation, it is become important for broadcasting services to reflect such demand. Through our research question, we can see how ABC has or has not responded to such demands or pressures in their longest currently shows. We can analyze this by taking into account the ratio of women to men employed for several jobs such as main writers and actors in Grey’s Anatomy, General Hospital, Modern Family, Agents of Shields, and The Goldbergs. This information would definitely matter as it would allow us to see if whether the increased demand for representation diversity has actually changed the gender employment in the inside of ABC’s shows or not, and what could we do with the data we collect.

ABC’s diversity of shows

Derek and Addison? Derek and Meredith? Adisson and Mark?… It never stops being weird and confusing

The second season of Grey’s Anatomy argues about a common but very controversial theme in the entire world: Adultery. This world-wide issue (being the cause of divorce of approximately 40% of the couples in the United States) is covered in the show through three different stages:

  1. Finding out
  2. Acting
  3. Moving on

My face when I find out someone was actually capable of cheating on Derek Shepherd

For phase 1, during the first episode of season 2, Derek (the one who was cheated on) tells the story of how he caught his wife and his best friend cheating on him in his own bed. He describes the thoughts he had in that moment like “knowing what was happening and what he was about to see, but being unable to accept and recognize it”, which is a very common reaction, known as “denial”, for every human being that has had to deal with a situation like this one. The representation of this first stage is deeply important as it argues that although not everyone has the same experience, it is okay, and normal, to want to ignore the situation… basically, is something we weren’t born or prepared for.

When analyzing phase number 2, the show represents “acting out” through the fact that Derek, instead of staying to figure things out with his wife, took the decision of avoiding the situation, leaving everything behind, and simply moving to another state. Although many people would argue that ignoring the facts isn’t the right path to solve things, what the show’s really debating is that none of us are perfect, so we shouldn’t be afraid to run away or act “insanely” fast when we fear we are going to get more hurt than what we are. Additionally, running away or kicking someone out is actually one of the most common reactions human beings can have, reason why a great percentage of the audience would probably relate to the story that was being told on screen.

The last phase is, for me, the most important stage as it argues that no matter how bad a situation may seem or how destroyed you may feel, the last thing someone can lose is hope. After everything that happened, Derek was able to start moving on when he met Meredith. He described the relationship with her like “getting fresh air when he felt he was drowning”, meaning that there’s always a chance to get something better, something we deserve, and that no one should stop us from fighting for our happiness.

No caption needed. This story is way better than what Derek was living at NYC

In general, the show argues that adultery does happen, and it happens a lot, however, one shouldn’t neither feel guilty about its reaction towards the situation nor give up of finding something better in the future.




Women in commercials, scandals, prime-time tv, and hopefully in a future world of equality


  1. Bartsch, Robert A., et al. “Gender Representation in Television Commercials: Updating an Update.”Sex Roles, vol. 43, no. 9, 2000, pp. 735. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1308100073?accountid=11107.

This peer reviewed article is about the method used and the results obtained when replicating O’Donnell and O’Donnell (1978) and Laval’s (1989) study in the unequal gender representation in T.V commercials. Firstly, it’s important to consider that no study can be repeated in the exact circumstances, which is why, instead of coding three major television networks (like O’Donnell and O’Donnell (1978) and Laval’s study), this new study coded four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC); coding 757 commercials of a 32-hour television. Its main purpose was to see the percentage change of women and men’s roles as voice-overs, and domestic (foods, cleansing supplies, cosmetics, etc.) and non-domestic (cars, trucks, or any out-of-home items) product representatives. With all the coded information, a chi-square test showed that although there had been a positive change in the percentages of male and female product representatives, there was still a great gap in the fact that 64% of domestic product representatives were female, and 89% of non-domestic product representatives were male. As a conclusion it was stated that unequal gender representation is still present in tv commercials, as females are overrepresented in domestic products and male in non-domestic products, indicating that gender bias continues to occur in tv commercials as well as other forms of mass media.

Overall, this article is worth reading as it emphasizes on the fact that analyzing trends in gender representation is an important measurement that determines how society views women and men. Additionally, it clarifies that methods used for this study need to be improved (to gather more information and improve this inequality) as variants like commercials having multiple (or none) characters at all is making coding more difficult.


  1. Cochran, Barbara. “WOMEN’S ROLE IN MEDIA: BUILDING TOWARD AN EQUITABLE FUTURE.”Medijske Studije = Media Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, 2011, pp. 94-99. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1954227223?accountid=11107.

This peer reviewed article is based on the research made by IWMF (International Women’s Media Foundation) regarding the current status of women in journalism, radio, and general newsrooms; the barriers that are inhibiting their advancement; and the possible solutions and outcomes that could be generated from this inequality situation. In first instance, although vast changes have been going on for women in the newsrooms (seen when a woman was promoted to executor editor of the NY times, and when another one anchored one of the three American network evening casts), there’s still lots of inequality to change. IWMF (created to strengthen the role of women in the media) researched that some regions such as Nordic Europe (the nations of Scandinavia) and Eastern Europe have managed to give women (69.4% of them) the opportunity to hold high percentage of support jobs, such as sales, finance and human resources, however, this isn’t the case of the rest of the countries, as it was concluded that “the difficulty of getting in the door”, “the glass ceiling”, and “parity” were the three principal barriers of women’s advancement in media.

Overall it is worth reading this article as it doesn’t only expose statistical facts of the real life situation regarding women’s role in media, but it also proposes that solutions like the adoption of equitable gender policies at organizations, the prohibition of sexual harassment, and the declaration of working for gender equality, would create a diversity of content in the newsrooms that will expand and enhance the audience by targeting community minorities and giving more accurate reflections about the situation exposed in the media.


  1. “Research on Sex-Roles in the Mass Media: Toward A Critical Approach.”The Insurgent Sociologist, vol. 7, no. 3, 1977, pp. 19-24. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1308072551?accountid=11107.

Part 1 (pages 19 – 24) of this peer reviewed article is about the study of Liberal Feminism in mass media (purposed to integrate women into the system of mass media on equal basis with men). It starts stating a general conclusion: males dominate mass media content, both quantitively and qualitatively, and, contrary to females who represent sexuality and domesticity, they are the living image of employment, politics, science, history, and family. The study highlights that the women’s oppression is due to the existence of male supremacist ideology, and that all women should come together as a unique sex to overcome men’s supremacy. The article argues that this inequality (represented in mass media) is because “men who own and operate mass media in society, are seen as perpetuating their own domination over women by transmitting sexist content”, reason why women appear “stereotypically” as housewives and sex objects. Out of all this information, questions like: How frequent do female characters appear in mass media(mm)? To what extend is marital and parental status connected to women in mm? What are the occupations of women in mm? What type of behavior do women exhibit in mm? arise. The study of the article answers the interrogations with the following data: Male outnumbered female characters in soap opera, prime-time, and children’s television; more than half of female characters were married compared to only one third of the male characters; 60% of men in tv were doctors, lawyers or businessmen, while 60% of women in tv were nurses, secretaries, or housewives; women appeared to be silly, weak, dependent, and incompetent, in comparison no man who were shown as independent, knowledgeable and competitive; among many other. With this information, the research finished implying that media content might be less sexist if women: had the same occupational distribution than men, were shown advertising the same male products, and had an equal degree of parental and marital status.

Overall, this article is worth reading as it doesn’t only exhibit the in-depth research of women’s oppression in mass media gathered though the study of Liberal Feminism, but it also helps overcoming this regretful barrier. We can see this improvement in the last few years where the number of female characters in prime-time television has increased, more television drama and comedy programs touch the subject of women’s role in society, and there’s an increasement in magazines and tv programs that show realistic images of women in society.


  1. Scott, Amanda M. I. The Roles of Women in Television Situation Comedies: A Pilot Study, Gonzaga University, Ann Arbor, 2011. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/912370536?accountid=11107.

This article argues two generalizations that are present in our daily life: Women and male relationships, and the need to communicate with each other. Based on this is statement it is clear to see that television doesn’t only portray the communication struggles between men and women, but it also exhibits a non-reliable image of traditional gender roles and patriarchy (also analyzed Luzen, Dozier & Horan’s study). Through a study made of 25 sitcom episodes of shows aired between 2000 and 2011, some conclusions, like the following once, were made:

  • Female characters were constantly involved in family and romance roles, while male characters were portrayed in ambitious and successful roles.
  • In the episodes studied, men were shown 311 times while women only appeared 252 times.
  • Female character was still a television cliché, as women had to represent acts of cleaning, cooling, and keeping the family unite.

In general, the study allowed the author to get to the conclusion that there is, undeniably, a perpetuation of traditional gender roles in sitcom tv shows that isn’t portraying the actual role of women in society, as, day by day, females are obtaining more jobs, succeeding, and making a greater impact in the world. Despite this conclusion, several improvements should be made to the study in order to improve its reliability. For instance, the category and number of episodes chosen should be broader, as the type of show (comedy, action, romance) or the specific episode selected, can change completely the perspective of the person who’s watching.

Overall, it is worth reading this article as, just like it says at the end of it, we should not believe everything we see on tv. The study was a great reflection of the fact that women are wrongly presented in society and that sitcom shows are making us perceive in an erroneous way the impact and role that women have in our contemporary community.


  1. Riley, Maria. “WOMEN: Female Roles Still Distort Reality.” org, Center For Media Literacy, 0AD, www.medialit.org/reading-room/women-female-roles-still-distort-reality.

This online article focuses on the way the power that media has of controlling women’s lives is changing year by year. Ever since the early 1960’s, feminist movements have been consistent, as women’s ideas and unique identities were controlled by men as they owned all forms of communication. An example of this could be easily seen in newspapers, because as long as they belonged to men, every article and publication would reflect men’s ideologies. In the past, women used to appear in stereotypical roles like a “dumb blonde”, a sex object, a “whimpering victim”, or a “homemaker”. However, thanks to the persistency of trying to change women’s media projection, there are new images appearing. Currently, there are more women characters in TV, more job diversity, and new structures of family.

Overall, it is worth reading this article because it doesn’t only give hope of change to every individual who fights for gender equality in media mass, but it also highlights that there is still lots of changes to be made, as shows that only hire all-white female protagonists or that portray the wrong image that women shouldn’t be single mothers, should be completely vanished.


  1. Ali, Lorraine. “Scandal, Sexism and the Role of Women at Fox News.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2017, 3:55pm, www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-bill-oreilly-sexual-harrassment-fox-news-women-20170405-story.html.

This report exposes a sexual accusation made towards Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, as they were called out for paying out 13 million dollars to 5 women who were going to publicly state an allegation that they had been sexually harassed. Although it was stated that these accusations weren’t true, many support groups appeared to help, which is why the story became viral through high profile advertisers and the National Organization for Women. With this news, more and more female workers started to make public their own stories, making statements like the fact that they were working in a place that “sounded more like the early grope-happy days of “Mad Men’s” Sterling Cooper than a modern media institution” (seen for example in the fact that women in Fox were forced to dress in high heels, skirts, and wear lots of make-up).

The reason why I find it important to read this report is because is really interesting to analyze the way in which a public institution (such as Fox news) who constantly speaks about feminist news and fights for women rights, is actually extremely hypocrite, as they give one face to the public and do another one behind cameras. Additionally, it’s nice to see the way in which other tv reports, magazines, and advertising companies used their organizations to exhibit and call out a regretful situation.

When someone decides to mess with a women…










This week’s task: “Write a Grey’s Anatomy episode that 22.22 million viewers would like”… hard chore, isn’t it?

Since its launching, Shonda Rhimes, and multiple Grey’s Anatomy credited writers, have managed to make us feel eager, miserable, ecstatic, furious, (add all the emotions you can think of), for almost 14 years (yes, it’s ABC’s second longest running show ever, in case you were wondering). However, we aren’t here to commemorate the greatness of GA (we know is the best show in history, end of discussion), the real question actually is “How did writers succeed in catching our attention since episode 1 if we get tired of everything (literally everything… food, clothing, classes, etc)? Well let me tell you a secret, a first season with trustful characters and a lot of drama is all you’ll ever need.

While re-watching Grey’s Anatomy (for the third time (yes, I’m a HUGE fan)), I’ve realized that making everything dramatic and trustworthy since the beginning is a principal element, and if you don’t believe me just ask Shonda Rhimes; creator and currently executive producer and principal writer of Grey’s Anatomy. This outstanding writer was not only responsible for the 16.25 million viewers the show got from just its first episode, but also for the success of uncountable “Shondaland’s” shows like Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, among many others.

This are just SOME of the MANY successful shows Shonda Rhimes has actually made us                                                             laugh and cry at the same time

In the first episodes of the show, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest”, the character’s development and the credibility they exhibit is a writing element that stands out. Meredith, being the daughter of a brilliant surgeon, makes us belief that she has innate medicine skills; Cristina, being first in her Stanford’s class shows us that determination and perseverance will take her wherever she wants; Izzie, being capable of working as a model and as a doctor indulges us to support her career while trying to demonstrate everyone that one can be pretty, smart and hardcore at the same time; George, well, he’s the guy that everyone likes; and Alex, what can we say? He’s certainly used as a central element in humor and drama. In general, the writing of the show carefully develops each of these characters in such way that we would trust them to basically “safe our lives”.

Just an example of the way Izzie’s character’s developed through the writing of her lines

Additionally, drama is also a main component in GA’s writing. In the very first episode we have to deal with the fact that Meredith had a one-night stand with his new boss, that Ellis has Alzheimer’s, and that interns’ lives will be a nightmare. As the season continues, the last episode “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, with 22.22 million views (written by Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman (husband and wife also credited in shows like Ugly Betty, Moonlight and Castle)) maintains a dramatic climax till the very end, where we are confronted with the fact that Derek is actually married! In other words, there’s a reason why Grey’s Anatomy viewers and ratings are still top ranked: it’s writing always leaves us wanting more.

My reaction to every Grey’s Anatomy episode


My Life: Grey’s Anatomy, that’s all you need to know

Hello #1102TVFem my name is Daniela Larranaga, I’m an international student majoring in Industrial Engineering and hope to be graduating by 2022 (fingers crossed!).

Regarding my past experiences with English courses, I can say it’s ironic that I’ve always tend to like and do better in my English classes than in my Spanish (native language) studies :) I went through the English IB diploma class, in which we mainly focused on “the power of language”. In general, through the 2 year International Baccalaureate course, I had the opportunity of analyzing in depth the way in which  language has been used as a utensil to propagate and expand power. With this course, I can be certain that my writing and critical reading skills highly improved, however, as any other international student would fear, I’m a bit uncertain of my oral capacities (something I look forward to improving in Dr.Wilson’s class), as the message I want to transmit tends to be distorted due to a bad use of verbs, vocabulary, or simple fluency.

“When someone doesn’t understand my accent”

Just until last year, binge watching Netflix had never been a hobby of mine (with the exception of Grey’s Anatomy- best show in the world!), however, I recently started to realize that TV series like The Handmaid’s Tale or Reign have a real significance and impact regarding the role of women through history; highlighting both struggling and empowering attitude, which has become a small passion of mine.

The TV show I’m going to review is (of course) Grey’s Anatomy, which bases on the development of a group of doctors who are starting their careers. I think this show connects very good with our class topic because its main character, Meredith Grey, is a thriving women that has to overcome the pressure of her legendary mother, the comments of her stereotypical male co-workers, and the general image that women can’t handle so much work, through a series of actions. I would like to investigate more about the role that vocabulary, tone, timing, and place, play in positioning this female individual (or character in this case) as “important” and “successful”.

We should all have a bit of Cristina                                Yang in us

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