English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Navya Katragadda

How Jess matches up to other Female Leads

While watching New Girl, I have thought heavily about other shows that have prevalent female leads. These shows include The Mindy Project, How to Get Away with Murder, Gossip Girl etc. This made me delve deeper into how different Jess is from the usual female lead. Usual female leads are characterized as very dominant and powerful characters in relation to the other characters in the show. But in this show, Jess is a female character who has a lot of personalities but is not an overwhelming and overly powerful character in comparison to the heavy male presence that this show has.

Jess being weird per usual

For example, when comparing Jess to a character like Annalease Keating, even though these two shoes are from different genres, Jess is much more light. But also, there is evidence that the type of character that the New Girl writers created for Jess is not as original as it seems. This is in reference to characters such as Mindy from the Mindy project. Mindy is characterized as someone who is quirky and weird in the best way. Her humor is the best part of her. Jess is somewhat the same way as the people grow to love her and appreciate her for who she is. Besides this, Jess is a unique character. She is very comfortable being weird and awkward, which is something that is usually looked down on for women. New Girl tries to fight against the stereotypes of women where Jess is completely different from Cece, who is the typical pretty girl we would see in television. As the characters grow to love Jess, especially paying attention to the men in the show, we can see that Jess is beautiful in her own way and in her own personality along with her quirks. This is what I love most about watching this show.

Gender Representation in New GIRL

In New Girl, the gender spread is pretty balanced, with quirky Jess as the lead and her beautiful, smart and supportive best friend Cece along with the three roommates that Jess fights with, lives with and learns with. The only two genders represented are female and male whereas there are many more genders that could be represented. Technically, the male characters have more representation but this is balanced out by the fact that Jess is the main character and that the spotlight is always on her. In terms of agency, Jess is mostly able to make her own choices but it is also important to consider the fact that Jess cannot usually act on her desires sometimes. This is shown by the fact that the other characters, both Cece and her male roommates have to sometimes push Jess to do things and stand up for herself. Nick seems to make decisions in a more low-key way contrary to characters like Schmidt. This show also does not really connect gender to race as much as other shows usually do. Race and gender representation do not really correlate in this show as the amount of representation a character has is usually not dependent on what race they are. Sometimes when watching an episode of this show, class and gender representation is sometimes a connection I make. Characters like Schmidt who obviously makes more money than his roommates sometimes has an attitude of superiority over his female and male counterparts.

Jess being a boss.

Also, since everyone in New Girl is heterosexual, there isn’t any discrepancy in the representation that every character gets as there lacks diversity in sexuality.  Disability and Mental illness are also not addressed much in this show, as it usually tries to keep a very light mood throughout the episodes. Heavy issues aren’t discussed usually in this show. Overall, the gender representation is pretty balanced out of the episodes I have seen thus far.

Thanksgiving with Jess: Themes in New Girl

This episode of ‘New Girl’  is centered on one of everyone’s favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. The theme of the episode is Jess and all her friends plus a new guy that she’s crushing on: Paul. By inviting Paul to their house, the day just turns into chaos. The episode goes over all the issues they have during the day such as Nick being irritated, all of the food preparation going wary (the turkey gets WAY too burned) and ends up with them finding a dead body in their neighbor’s house. Regardless of all of these scary and chaotic events, the group of friends still manage to have a meaningful and fun Thanksgiving day together.

Jess going all out for Paul and her roommates.

The show makes this argument by starting the episode with all of Jess’ roommates hating on Paul, but in the end, they all warm up to him and welcome him into their small family. This relates to the overall theme that despite issues and differences, people can still come together and enjoy a holiday together. This theme relates to the show as a whole because every episode, the characters have conflict but still manage to come together and realize their love and care for each other at the end of the day.

I think this episode, in particular, relates to a greater cultural meaning as it shows the importance of holiday’s, especially Thanksgiving, where in America it’s a holiday where you’re supposed to be thankful for the people regardless of the circumstances. Besides this, a lot of what happened in the episode was extreme, and would normally not occur in normal life, but it was done for humor purposes. Also, I have a feeling that Nick likes Jess, which I also think was the purpose of this episode – to overlay this fact. That is why I think Nick dealt with Paul, to make her happy. The things you do for someone you love are endless.

The Backstory of the Hilarious Dialogues of New Girl

New Girl is a show that is known for its simple and hilarious jokes. This episode of New Girl called “Cece Crashes” is written by Rachel Axler. She has also written episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation and Veep, which are all shows that are somewhat similar to New Girl. The dialogue is structured to maintain a constant dialogue between the characters. There is not a voiceover on the show unlike some others, so there isn’t a narrator to fill in the gaps. Since this show is light in terms of plot, a narrator is not necessary. Shows usually use voiceovers to inform the audience about the plot or more about the characters and what they’re thinking. But in this show, it is usually pretty evident on the motives and situations of the characters.

Silence is usually not very apparent in the episode. When there is silence, it is usually to set up an interaction between two or more of the characters and to create a sense of build-up in the plot line for the episode. Otherwise, this episode was very dialogue heavy. Especially since this episode created a high amount of tension between Jess and Nick, there was a lot of dialogue especially from Jess about her dilemma of having a romantic relationship with one of the guys that she lives with.

Finally, the writing of the show always seems very natural. Sometimes, in sitcoms, the writing, and dialogue is usually somewhat forced and awkward because the writers try too hard to be funny. The humor is always forced but in New Girl, merely the interactions between the characters are what makes the show humorous and it is very easy to watch. The writing is along the style which I prefer which is why I choose to review this show. I am very excited to see all the jokes New Girl has in store for the rest of the season (:

Jess/Nick and their quarrels

Annotated Bibliography – Gender Representation in Children’s TV

Campbell, Olivia. “Why Gender Stereotypes In Kids’ Shows Are A REALLY Big Deal.” Refinery 29. 5 Dec. 2017.


This source focuses on the misogyny that is seen through the gender stereotypes in children’s television. It discusses how men are usually portrayed as more powerful than women and females are more timid. This source is important because it links the portrayal of men and women to problems later in life such as domestic and sexual violence. It discusses the importance of how things are shown in television because sexist and misogynistic representations can lead to a development of sexist attitudes which can cause further problems late in life. Since television is where children get an abundance of their information, what is portrayed on the screen is very crucial. This source focuses more on the psychological impact of the gender representation on screen in comparison to the other sources. This article would be valuable to analyze how certain ideas and how they are communicated can cause events later on in life.


Hains, Rebecca C. “Inventing the Teenage Girl: The Construction of Female Identity in Nickelodeon’s My Life as a Teenage Robot.” Popular Communication 5.3 (2007): 191-213. ProQuest. 18 Sep. 2018 .


This source focuses on a modern TV show that would be classified as a TV show for “Tweens”  or other wise known as young teenagers. This TV show airs on Nickelodeon and focuses on a female robot who is powerful and strong as a main lead. The main character is strong and talented while still embracing her femininity. This is a concept that is usually unheard of for female characters to be both powerful and feminine on television till this new era of television. This source does a great job of showcasing an example of a television show that breaks gender norms and showcases a powerful female character to the current young audience. The source is also valuable because it offers research on the response from teenage girls, who are the targeted audience and how they respond to the positive and different message that this show offers. This article would be a great example of pro-feminist children’s media.


Hains, Rebecca C. “THE PROBLEMATICS OF RECLAIMING THE GIRLISH: THE POWERPUFF GIRLS AND GIRL POWER.” Femspec 5.2 (2004): 1,39,216. ProQuest. 18 Sep. 2018 .


This source discusses the rise of feminism and the idea of girl power but includes a fantastic example of how the Powerpuff Girls, a popular kids television show from the early 2000’s showcased characters that were the epitome of girl power to a young audience. It represented to kids that girls could also be “tough and hardcore”. This source is valuable because it represents a prime example of how children’s television can go against normal gender stereotypes and show an image of women and girls that is atypical from what is usually seen in children’s television, where girls are usually seen as delicate and feminine. However, this source is also important because it highlights the flaws of the origins of the shows and how it ends up contradicting itself in the end regardless. This shows how even though feminist television is being produced, there are still many flaws to be corrected in order to break gender norms.


Kahlenberg, Susan G., and Michelle M. Hein. “Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender-Role Stereotypes in Toy Commercials.” Sex Roles 62.11-12 (2010): 830-47. ProQuest. 18 Sep. 2018


This source focuses on how toy commercials enforce gender norms and barriers on toys and use this to their marketing benefit. This source uses data and actual analysis to show how different toy commercials used a variety of factors like age, setting, type of interaction etc. in order to sell a certain product. It discusses how certain toys and products were portrayed as “girl” or “boy” toys and the difference in ways that these things were marketed. This source is important and valuable reading because it delves into how companies will use television as a way to instill certain ideas, norms and barriers into children’s minds in order to sell their product and maximize their profit. It provides examples on various types of commercials and how girls were portrayed versus how boys were portrayed. These differences are important to analyze to see how television and commercials are still enforcing the unequal social construct.  


Perea, Katia. Girl Cartoons: A Playful Transgression on Popular Culture’s Compulsory Gender Coding. Order No. 3458313 New School University, 2011 Ann ArborProQuest. 18 Sep. 2018


This source focuses on shows, specifically cartoons, and delves into how these shows go against gender norms that TV shows usually reinforce for children. The writers and creators of these shows use the many creative ways to represent cartoon characters in order to enforce new ideas of gender norms for children watching these television shows considering that a lot of what we perceive as children makes up our thought process when we are adults. This source is worth reading because it focuses on how things such as feminism and gender representation show up in the animated side of television. Also, it shows how characters are constructed, specifically female characters, both minor and major, and how they represent different themes and ideals. This source also gives many great examples of how girl cartoon characters represent qualities such as power and leadership and go against typical standards. It discusses these concepts in relation to what we typically perceive of women in television.


Smith, Jennifer M. “She’s Just Being Riley: The Sexual Politics of Girl Meets World.” Antenna, 3 July 2014


This article discusses the problems with a specific TV show airing called Girl Meets World, which aims to center around a powerful girl center but fails to properly aim to break gender norms and deliver proper gender representation. This source discusses issues such as using sexual harassment against girls as humor and other types of offensive content against girls that is being delivered to young audiences. This source is important because it shows the issues with young adult television and relates them to actual problems in society such as sexism. This source is helpful as it shows how television writers will aim to produce female centered shows and subvert to normal sexist humor against women and go along with the same trend in television that has been occurring for decades. Girl Meets World would be a great example to use to describe the typical sexual offensive jokes made against women on television.


New Girl: Simple Cinematography Unlike the Normal Sitcom

While watching New Girl, the show takes on the generic format of a T.V. sitcom with quick shots where the camera will shift to the character speaking. Throughout the episode, specifically during the most recent episode, “Kryptonite”, the shots would consist of the characters talking to one another, and the camera would quickly shift to the face of another to highlight their reaction to the others. The reactions of characters to each other is the main basis of comedy for this show. The quick shots are important to the show because they keep the audience engaged. In fast-moving shows like New Girl, quick and dynamic shots are important because if the camera work is not crisp, the audience is likely to get bored.

In terms of lighting, the show is very well lit. The episodes are generally colorful as Jess has a very colorful personality and it’s enhanced by the background of the shots. Specifically, in this episode, about half of the episode is shot outside which is different from the previous episode, where most of the episode took place within the apartment where all the main characters live. The color scheme of this episode was still colorful but even when the characters were outside, the colors were still a bit subdued. I believe that the colors were subdued at times to fit the theme of the episode. The episode was about Jess getting over a breakup and finding herself again and it could represent Jess losing the happy part of herself for a guy for a period of time.

The directors of cinematography and visuals of New Girl do a great job of keeping the audience engaged without being overwhelming.  This means that the cinematography is very simple

This shows how the camera shifts from one character to another

Usually, sitcoms have fake audience laughter in the background and more sound effects to enhance the show. This allows New Girl to be more simple and for the comedy to be more natural through the show. Watching New Girl has been great because it’s a simple, funny and unique T.V. show that always finds new ways to make me laugh!

A Semi-Boring Introduction to my Boring Self

Hi! My name is Navya Katragadda and I am a first-year Biomedical Engineering major from Smyrna, Georgia.  I expect to graduate in 2022 from Tech (hopefully). I have taken English courses consistently since Kindergarten which has been interesting since English was not my first language. In high school, Literature classes were always my favorite and to be exact, I have always loved reading and analyzing poetry. This is my first English class here at Tech and I couldn’t be more excited. I definitely prefer reading and writing as forms of communication over speaking up in class, which is something I struggle with. Since I prefer writing/electronic communication, I am very excited to use Twitter this semester. This semester in English 1102, I hope I can improve my speaking and use it more efficiently as a way of communicating with my classmates and professor.

Even before this class, I have always been an avid watcher of television. I have seen every show from an 80’s sitcom to a 2018 drama series. Watching TV and sharing opinions with my friends has always been something that I have enjoyed, especially in the past few years. Not only do I watch many American series’, I watch many shows in multiple languages, such as in Hindi, Spanish and Korean. Considering that I love television, I am very excited about this course.

The awkward hilarious female lead that I am very excited to see on screen (:

This semester, I have chosen to review New Girl. New Girl is about a young teacher who moves in with three single guys into an apartment and documents her adventures with love, life, and friendship. The show follows the relationships that form between characters and their unique personalities. I chose this show due to a few reasons. First, the main character is a woman and three of the other main characters are men. It seems to be an interesting watch as how the female is portrayed in relation to the male characters throughout the show. It also seems like a fun and comedic show so I am very excited to watch and continue to document my thoughts on the show throughout the semester!

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