English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Justin Chow

The End of A Journey for FotB- Insecurities

Looking back at the two seasons I have watched for the Fresh Off the Boat, I am particularly fond of season 2 episode 15. This episode touches on an important issue that does not only affect teenagers but, as seen in the episode, also affect grownups as well: insecurity.

So true… So true…

This issue may be emphasised in college as bullying often occurs, and sometimes the reason for feeling insecure between age groups is different. For example, younger people may feel insecure about their physicality while older personals may have a greater chance of feeling insecure regarding relationships. In the show, it is evident that Jessica feels extremely threatened by Louis meeting a friend from the opposite gender in a pool hall and decides to put some ground rules. As she starts making her long list of rules, from only meeting “when the Sun is up” to “photos of your children must be present at all times” it creates a comical effect that helps draw attention to Jessica’s insecurity. Thus, this raises an important issue in modern-day society: should this level of paranoia and insecurity be considered the norm in today’s society?

This question is hard to put a definitive answer as an extent everyone would feel insecure about things: ranging from looks to wealth. This societal issue is further highlighted when Eddie felt vulnerable when he found out Alison, his girlfriend, used to fancy Dave, his best friend. Therefore, the day after, he became overly defensive when he saw Dave talking to Alison. To make things worse, Alison found out Eddie’s double standard when Nicole came by and asked if he’s still up for ice cream.

The question is how can we solve it… the simple answer we can’t. However, what we can do is alleviate the insecurity that arise from the insecurities. An example solution is evident in the show when both Dave and Eddie, Jessica and Louis decide to reveal their insecurities and talk their way through it. Other solutions may be explored and I believe that it is important that colleges should allocate more budget on solving mental issues and help raise awareness on methods or programs to solve these insecurities.

“My G” #2 Post on Writing

For the TV show Fresh Off the Boat, I could have chosen any episode in any season and it would have provided a general overview of its writing style. However, for the episode I chose, season 2 episode 14, I particularly liked how the storyline goes against Asian convention with Louis and Jessica supporting Emery with his hidden talent in tennis. Throughout the episode, the writers, Khan, Huang, Shah, and Wang, collectively create a light-hearted atmosphere while highlighting the comedic effect of Emery’s sudden rise in fame in the tennis world.  This should come with no surprise that the main writer, Khan, has plenty experience writing other comedic shows such as “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23” and “American Dad”.

Khan often use a free-flowing dialogue structure to mimic a natural conversation, thus making it easier to follow. Furthermore, the writers try to avoid utilising advanced vocabulary to make it more appealing to younger participants and it also helps portray across life’s perspective coming a young Asian teenager boy. Interestingly, the characters often express their thoughts out loud to not only exhibit “thinking out loud” characteristic but it helps the audience to decrypt their ulterior motive. This is evidently seen when Jessica inadvertently tells Eddie to move out of his room to make space for Emery so that Emery could more efficiently recover from his physical pain from tennis matches.

Like in any TV show, It is important for the writers to appreciate the perspective and theme the show is portraying across. In this case, it is the significance of mimicking an Asian teenager’s perspective of school as real as possible. They have done a superb job in doing so, with Eddie constantly using vocabulary that belongs in the lexical field of youth. Nouns such as “my G” and “my jam” in addition to portraying across a light-hearted tone, it also allows the show to come across more relatable to younger audiences.

My G, My G!!!!

Eddie’s Creative Yet Purposeful Cinematic Effects

This blog entry discusses the cinematography and direction in the TV show “Fresh off the Boat”. I find episode 13 in season 1 particularly appropriate to discuss this topic as that episode reveals Jessica’s anxiety for their family losing their Chinese identity. Therefore, this episode utilises many cinematic effects to symbolise the respective cultural identities.

However, not all of the effects used in show is designated to symbolise a particular culture, in fact, the cinematic effects contribute significantly to the overall atmosphere of the show. For example, in every episode’s introduction scene, the vibrant, crayon styled layout comes across to the audience as an “easy-watching” show with cheerful connotations. Further elements such as having a bunch of quick cuts instead of lots of long takes mimic a real-life dialogue with lots of back-and-forth comments to help ground the audience with this show’s realistic appearance. However, in occasions, we do see the directors to break the “quick cuts rule” when they are trying to highlight an important point. Particularly, the directors used slow-motion technique to dramatise the motion of Jessica dropping her pot of Macaroni and Cheese onto the floor. Thereby, this helps show Jessica’s trauma of finding out how “Americanised” their family have become.

In hope to remind the children of their Chinese heritage, Jessica decides to refurbish the house with more Chinese elements. It is clear that that the house’s colour tone shifted dramatically towards predominantly red and yellow. Purposefully, these two colours represent the three most important symbols in Chinese culture: wealth, luck and happiness. Therefore, it is interesting how the show utilises different colours to represent various cultures. In contrast, Brock’s presentation on Russian culture often used colours red and black to symbolise communism and conservatism attitude in Russia.

Snapshot of Jessica’s Predominantly Red and Yellow Traditional Chinese Dress, with hints of Chinese Culture in the Background

Gender Representation in FotB

Even though Fresh off the Boat focuses on an Asian family’s experiences when moving to Orlando, the various genders represented helps pivot the plot and creates more intriguing characters in the show. It is shame that despite occasionally having various genders being represented, most of the cast are heterosexual.  One of the main characters, played by Constance Wu, is Eddie’s mom. Her impoverished and arduous background helped shape her brutal, power hungry and academic-first attitude. This helps gives an extra dimension to the show by creating a contrast in personality to her husband, Louis, who helps balance her aggressiveness with empathy and submission. Furthermore, this can be depicted as a form of portrayal of strong women.

The main focus on gender representation comes across on the first episode of season 4 when Nicole, Eddie’s close friend, came out gay after inviting him for a Taco lunch. Not only does this help empower the gay movement by giving confidence to the audience of the possibility of expressing out their feelings, but it should also be taken as highlighting the flaws that we have in our current society. As it took Nicole four seasons to gather enough courage to tell anyone, it can be assumed that it is due to the “unnatural” and “flawed” connotations that some communities may brand on the LGBT body that lots of social paradigms have to occur for the LGBT to be fully accepted into the community. The moment after Eddie, who expectedly was shocked as he expected Nicole to ask him out, gave Nicole comfort was perhaps my favourite and empowering scene in the episode.

The GIF above expressing Nicole’s reaction to Eddie’s support is extremely palpable.

In addition to supporting the LGBT community with Nicole’s character, I believe that this TV show also expresses other representational axes in junction to its main entertainment value. As mentioned in my last blog, the communal fusion between Eastern and Western values is especially highlighted in the representative characters. For example, Honey and Jessica, despite being best friends, having very different viewpoints of the world. Although the show effectively represents the cultural differences, the show ought to be criticised for its lack of African-American presence. Other than Walter, there were no other prominent African-American character. Except for this minor criticism, I love how the show gives insights into the life of a typical Asian-American family thus opening people to be more empathetic towards Asian beliefs.

How are Women Victimised in Crime TV- Annotated Bibliography

Cavender, G., Bond-Maupin, L., & Jurik, N. C. (1999). The construction of gender in reality crime TV. Gender & Society, 13(5), 643-663. Retrieved from


Source 1– The research paper emphasises the significance of the blurry lines between reality and fiction of the crime TV genre as, especially younger, audience may use this as a pedagogy of the proper representation of women. Thereby, the author strongly supports a change in mentality of women portrayal in crime TV shows. Using the first 24 episodes of America’s Most Wanted 9 as a reference, it is found that the show depicts women with the necessity of exhibiting sociability characteristics while other attributes such as technical prowess is less important. Thus, this confirms our thesis of women being victimised to a great extent. This article is particularly revealing as it highlights the grave extent at which women are perceived as either having to be subordinating or expressing emotional loss being a crime victim. In addition to that, the article discusses how the TV show uses particular cinematic effects, such as lighting and close-up shots, to exaggerate the emotional aspects of women.


Stankiewicz, J. M., & Rosselli, F. (2008). Women as sex objects and victims in print advertisements. Sex Roles, 58(7-8), 579-589.


Source 2– Compared to my other articles, this one is unique in such that it does research on advertisement rather than on TV shows. I chose this in particular because it would give us a more holistic perspective of the general portrayal of women, specifically how, or if, they are being depicted as being victimised. In fact, from the research it shows that 10% of adverts did just that. However, this statistic proves a warped sense of reality because it is later found that two of three advertisements that feature women in fashion or adolescent magazines presented women as sex objects that are being victimised. Furthermore, this article also tries to look at the other side of the spectrum: the likelihood of women being aggressors. But as expected, the scales are tipped for women being three times more likely to be portrayed as victims than as aggressors. One rather surprising conclusion the article draws is that it believes that one of the reasons why women are much more likely to be victimised than being aggressors is because of the “backlash against women’s increasing power in society”.  Moreover, the wider implication of these alarming advertisement statistics elicits the correlation with increase men’s acceptance of “rape, interpersonal violence, and gender role stereotyping”.


Neuendorf, K. A., Gore, T. D., Dalessandro, A., Janstova, P., & Snyder-suhy, S. (2010). Shaken and stirred: A content analysis of women’s portrayals in james bond films. Sex Roles, 62(11-12), 747-761.


Source 3– In order to view how has the attitude of victimised women on TV shows has changed over time, I wanted to find a research article on a TV show that has been on air for a long time. However, there were no particular resources on this topic. Therefore, I drew inspiration from a research article about the victimisation of women in James Bond films instead. This article looks at the 195 females existing in 20 James Bond films. What the author has found that the women had many similar attributes despite the evolving times. They all play a supporting role as a “Bond Girl” stereotypically with certain level of attractiveness and body waist ratio. Despite recognising that the number of major females has increased over time, the author also raises that they have become more sexually active and more likely be recipients of physical harm. Hence, this once again confirms our hypothesis. This article raises important questions on the cinematic hierarchy as it demonstrates that, currently, society is willing to accept the aggressive nature toward the “vulnerable” female character in order to satisfy their predictability that feeds into the success of the series.


Penfold-Mounce, R. The Conversation. 24 October 2016. How the rise in TV “crime porn” normalises violence against women. Retrieved from


Source 4– In order to counter the somewhat pessimistic articles above, I came across this article which discusses how crime dramas such as Silent Witness, Spiral, the Killing and now even reaching the fantasy world of Games of Thrones have always victimised women. The author believes that sometimes violence can be vital to create an intriguing storyline and create a purpose for the protagonist, but she feels that currently this technique is being overused. In a documentary aired on the BBC Radio 4, Boon Mackichan is worried how this exploiting the use of portrayal of vulnerable women may “bleed into our culture”. This article, unlike the others before, gives hope in TV shows as it shows that there is a rise of strong women characters that instead of being victimised, become aggressors. For example, Ruth Wilson’s character Alice in Luther. What I found this article to be particularly useful is that it gives an objective perspective into how women are being utilised, either being portrayed as a victim or an aggressor, while also offering a suggestion to the industry to reduce the abuse on the use of victimised female characters to kick off the plotline.


Jurik, Nancy C., and Gray Cavender. June 28, 2017. “Feminist Themes in Television Crime. Dramas.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology.  Oxford University Press,. Date of access 19 Sep. 2018, Retrieved from


Source 5– This article takes a look at how women characters have generally been portrayed in crime TV shows. Women began to show up in these series around the 1970s when it became apparent women were not solely substitutes for male characters, but the article suggests that they actually altered the crime genre. The feminist’s crime TV shows with female protagonists often addressed relevant women social issues. Furthermore, women as crime detectives, such as DCI Tennison in Prime Suspect, were not depicted as loners who were vulnerable, intimidated characters of the horror scenes. Instead they were portrayed as strong, smart, young females who does not only have stereotypical attributes of having more empathy than male counterparts. This article is particularly interesting as it provides a counterargument to the earlier articles which suggests that most female characters are either based upon being a companion to the dominant male character or a way to device the plotline.


Manion, A. Los Angeles Review of Books. 22, June 2015. Between Victimhood and Power: The Female Detectives of Television’s Crime Dramas. Retrieved from


Source 6– This is very much an opinionated article that questions the industry why women characters in crime TV show cannot be detectives and women at the same time. The author picks out that despite a closing gender gap in crime TV shows, the heavily masculine connotations of detectives makes it hard for female characters to play the role freely and without repression from societal constraints. Thus, it is this social construct of a particular perception of detectives that make women characters in the shows sometimes “uncomfortably vulnerable and easily victimised”. This status quo of how women is judged differently in this area is traced back to how people working in law enforcement has the physical and emotional demands that are traditionally associated with male. Thereby, this article raises an interesting argument on how contractualism has brought us to a stage where it is still considered the norm to expect women in crime TV shows to be “attractive, tall, and slim with long flowing hair” and perhaps it is time to untangle our polarising thought that masculinity and femininity are opposites.




“Success Perm” in Asian Culture

Throughout the Fresh Off the Boat TV show, it expresses many key Chinese-Asian cultural values that may be foreign to the average audience. However, coming from an Asian background, I can easily relate to Asian cultural values that are highlighted. In particular, this is especially evident in Season 1 Episode 4: Success Perm as the episode demonstrates the value of materialism in gaining commendation in an Asian family and the comparative nature between siblings (Jessica and Connie) or husbands (Steve and Louis). From the very beginning when the Huangs went to buy fake lemon trees and got a perm to Steve having a grand entrance with his affluent Miata car and Connie getting breast “airbags” implants, the audience is immediately hit with a clear impression of the importance of symbolic materialism in Asian culture. While Steve and Louis’ rivalry is purely materialistic, Jessica and Connie have an intriguing rivalry of trying to impress their mother. All of these vying is effectively summarised when Jessica points out “They’re family. They’re coming to gloat about all of our misfortunes: the restaurant, Eddie…”

Typical Asian Cultural Value

At this point, the general audience may criticise the superficial, jealousy-spite filled, materialistic Asian values. But as the episode carries on, the audience is able to become more empathetic. This becomes apparent when Jessica opens up to Connie in regards to their struggling financial capacity, and in return Connie admits the pressure that she carries for being “mom’s favourite”. Thus, this allows the audience to become more sympathetic to Connie as we are able to understand the burden that Connie has to carry as being branded their mom’s “favourite daughter” after finally winning over that title from Jessica.

Moreosver, the Chen’s façade of a “well-off Asian family” begins to crumble as Louis’s suspicion that the Miata car was second-hand becomes true when a call from the police office reveals that their family is actually in debt. As the episode ends on a sad note as the Chan family leaves, Jessica jokingly tells Connie “By the way, your hair looks terrible” while in reality the subtext translates it to “Mom wasn’t the only one hurt by you moving away.” As this scene draws inspiration from a conventional sibling rivalry full of half-hearted jokes, the audience can more easily relate to the complex rivalrous, yet compassionate relationship that Asian siblings and families overall have. The show wraps up this idea nicely as it reminds the audience that “We learned that just like O.J., people aren’t always what they seem.”

Meeting JC- But Not Jackie Chan…

Hey everybody! My name is Justin Chow. I am a first-year aerospace engineering major who intends to graduate in 2022. Having lived in England for 8 years, I have had plenty encounters of English courses at High school. However, my first English course in Tech, the 1102 “Television and Feminism” provides a unique opportunity to analyse the use of language in modern society beyond the superficial level of literary devices used in prose and poetry.

Poets all along…

In fact, the holistic “WOVEN” approach would allow me to locate my communication weaknesses and I could hone in the skills necessary. I tend to rely on oral communication to express my thoughts not only because you can more easily portray a comprehensive idea through facial and hand expressions, but also it avoids any miscommunication that texts may have. One aspect I hope to improve in this class is working on the concision of my writing. Having learnt the importance of effective communication by reading biographies of my engineer idols, I aspire to improve my writing through practice.

I do not remember a time when I am not waiting for a new episode of a TV show to air! From the fantasy world themed of Game of Thrones and Agents of Shield to the more pragmatic themed of the Good Doctor and Suits, I just love watching shows that have a developed plotline and characters. Even though its true that I also like reading books, I find that I only enjoy reading biographies or philosophical works when I am in a contemplating mood. Thus, in most cases, I prefer to watch TV shows.

Having studied in a widely diverse high school community, I have taken big interest in feminism and other social movements occurring around the globe. Therefore, I am fascinated by the prospect of watching Fresh off the Boat.


Clear example of Cultural Assimilation in Fresh Off the Boat

I would both be able to recognise the contemporary anxieties that Asian-American experience in a country that prefers cultural assimilation, and I would also be able to the feminism movement as this show has a huge female presence in both cast and scriptwriting.

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