English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Rafael Barrientos

The Women Behind “Grace and Frankie”

For this blog I have decided to take a different approach. Rather than focus on the show, I am going to focus on three women who work on the show: Marta Kauffman, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda.

Marta Kauffman is the co-creator and an executive producer of the show. Kauffman was born and 1956, and started her career in TV in 1987. In the show running business she has held the job of writer, co-creator, creator, and Executive Producer. Certainly the most notable show she has worked on is the famous 1990’s sitcom “Friends”. In this show Kauffman was the co-creator, the writer for some episodes, and the executive producers for several seasons. She even participated as an extra in several episodes. Kauffman is a very important women in the world of television.

Marta Kauffman

Lily Tomlin acts in the show as Frankie, one of the main characters. Lily Tomlin started her career as a stand-up comedian and an off-broadway actress.  Her role in “Grace and Frankie” has been so successful that she has gotten four consecutive Emmy nominations for her role. Furthermore, Tomlin has won an Emmy award, a Tony award, and even a Grammy award. Tomlin was also the voice of Mrs. Frizzle in the “Magical School Bus”. Thus, Tomlin has been a female front runner in many fields of the show business.

Lily Tomlin

Jane Fonda plays the role of Grace in the series. Jane Fonda started her career as a broadway actress in 1960. She has appeared in many movies and tv shows since. Furthermore, she is known as fashion model, a fitness guru, and even a political activist. Through her career, she has won multiple Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and distinct lifetime achievement awards.

Jane Fonda

These three women are great examples of what women are capable of achieving, even at an older age.




Grace and Frankie’s Portrayal of Genders

The gender spread of the show is pretty evenly sampled. We can see that Grace and Frankie, two of the main characters are females, as Robert and Sol, the other two main characters, are male. Furthermore, we can see that the secondary characters are also evenly spread out. For example, Robert and Grace have two daughters, while Frankie and Sol have two sons. However, Grace and Frankie tend to get more representation and air time than other characters, given that the show revolves around them and their struggles.

These are the four main characters of the show.

The show does revolve about the main decision of Sol and Robert to come out and proclaim their love towards each other. Grace and Frankie do have to react to this decision at first. However, after this main decision, the show turns its attention to decisions that Grace and Frankie make. The show still puts some attention on the decisions made by Sol and Robert, but the main scope is now with Grace and Frankie.

Furthermore, the show connects the genders it represents to many other axes. We see how the two male lead characters are homosexuals, and the two female lead characters are heterosexuals. This allows for representation of multiple sexual orientations. Furthermore we see some representation of mental illness. This is because one of Sol’s and Frankie’s son is a alcoholic and drug addict.

The show however fails to represent some axes. The show does include one African American character, but beyond that, the show lacks proper racial representation. Furthermore, the show focuses on highly upper class characters. So far all of the characters that have appeared on the show belong to very high socio-economic status. Additionally, the show has yet to show any major character with any disability.

Here we see how the cast of the first season is mostly Caucasian.

Although the show has some shortcomings in representations, I think this show represents pretty well the genders it shows.


The Irrelevance of Age

In this episode I saw of Grace and Frankie, the theme deals with their age, and the irrelevance that accompanies it. We see various low-key examples of this theme. For example, we see how Frankie has difficulty hearing what Grace says, and how Grace truly cannot read without her glasses.

However, this episode contains some significant examples that deal with this theme. We see how Grace tries to get a job at the company she created, but later passed on to her daughter. The daughter tries to turn down Grace as politely as possible, but Grace can only realize how she has become “irrelevant”. The main blow is given when she realizes her face is no longer on the product, given that young women would not respond well to this packaging. Frankie has a different type of moment where she realized that people would discriminate her due to her age. She applies for a job at a nursing home, but due to her age she is received as someone that wants to live in the nursing home.

Here we see how Grace reacted when she found out her face had been removed from the product.

This episode exemplifies how our society often discriminates people, or sees them as irrelevant due to their age. We often forget that elderly people are still capable of doing great things, and that we should not discriminate them for some small qualities they lack due to their age.

Another theme that is dealt with in the episode is the one of a “blended” family. We can see how tensions run high between step-siblings, and between them and their new step-dad. It is fair to notice that the dinner party with the new “blended” family did not go as planned. We also see how Sol, thinks it would have been better to let more time pass before the first family dinner. This theme is also dealt with, when the fact that, the two dads cheated on their wives before acknowledging and admitting their true love, is discussed.

Here we see the awkward welcoming of the new step-daughter.

The Perspective of Grace and (of) Frankie

Something very important to notice in the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie” is the way it is filmed. This Netflix show focuses on two main characters, and the cinematography is designed to give enough focus and camera time to the two main characters.

Normally, the show focuses on the struggles that Grace and Frankie face. Most of the time they face the same issue simultaneously. The filmmakers use this to their advantage. The newly divorcees tend to confront their husbands (more like ex-husbands) at the same time about the same thing, but in very different manners. The cinematography tends to shift rapidly between Grace and Frankie to parallel and juxtapose the confrontations their going through. This strategy further separates the personalities of the two protagonists, and further highlights the way they serve as foils to each other.

Even in the way they dress, Grace and Frankie are foils.

The show is typically filmed with very bright colors. This probably occurs because although the show deals with very controversial en complex issues, it never stops being a sitcoms. If the show would be filmed in darker colors, it could be seen as a drama or more serious series. However, the show often shifts to darker colors in some scenes to add more value and contrast the tone of these scenes with the overall tone of the sitcom.

One example is when in the end of the second episode, Grace is about to leave Frankie alone in her house. However, she realizes Frankie is not emotionally able to be alone at the moment, and puts her general annoyance to support her comrade. It actually is the first time Grace shows positive feelings towards Frankie in a grand manner. Here the series shifts to a darker, more blue color, to mark the significance of such moment in the series. Furthermore, Frankie remarks that she “is feeling blue”, as to hint to the change in overall colors of the scene.

Here we can see how the scene gets darker.

Women in Sports Media, and the Culture of Sexism Around Such Media

1. “Young Women Talking Sports and Careers: A Glimpse at the Next Generation of Women in Sport Media”

Staurowsky, Ellen J., and Jessica DiManno. “Young Women Talking Sports and Careers: A Glimpse at the Next Generation of Women in Sport Media.” Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, 2002, pp. 127. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/230677630?accountid=11107.

In this peer reviewed report, we get a glimpse of how rapidly the number of women in sports media is increasing. The report argues that everyday more and more undergraduate female students pursue careers in sports media. However, the report claims that the number of overall women in sports media continues to be small. Furthermore, the report focuses on the struggles that began with this exponential growth of women in sports media, and that these undergrads face. Most of the struggles include sexism, sexual objectification, and overall their parents’ opinions. On the contrary to what can be imagined, these undergrads are often more supported by their fathers than by their mothers. The true value of this report is that it focuses on women who are not yet on a sports media career, but rather are studying to be in one. Furthermore, this report is based on surveys, therefore we get the accounts of the struggles these women had to face.


2.””there’s no Sex Attached to Your Occupation”: The Revolving Door for Young Women in Sports Journalism.”

Hardin, Marie, Stacie Shain, and Kelly Shultz-Poniatowski. “”there’s no Sex Attached to Your Occupation”: The Revolving Door for Young Women in Sports Journalism.” Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, 2008, pp. 68-79. ProQuest,  http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/230686521?accountid=11107.


This report is part of a longitudinal study that focuses on why the longevity of women careers in sports media are so short. This report focuses on the barriers or difficulties young women face in the first two years of their careers in sports journalism. This report focuses on three main themes found. The first is that being a woman is more of a disadvantage than a barrier in sports journalism. Second, that sports are mostly a man’s world. Third, beginning a family, or beginning to have family responsibilities will often end their careers. The report also touches on the topic of women being discriminated based on their gender in this career. I believe this study is very valuable because it focuses on women who are beginning their careers and are typically very young. All the women interviewed were in their early and mid-twenties. Furthermore, this study is valuable because it shows how women in sports media careers often feel satisfied with their occupation.


3.”The Current State of Women Print Journalists: An Analysis of the Status and Careers of Females in Newspapers Sports Departments.”
Miloch, Kimberly S., et al. “The Current State of Women Print Journalists: An Analysis of the Status and Careers of Females in Newspapers Sports Departments.” Public Organization Review, vol. 5, no. 3, 2005, pp. 219. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/207467220?accountid=11107, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11115-005-3499-y.

This report is focused on women working in the sports department of their newspaper. This study is focused on four main things. First it focuses on the demographic makeup of the sports department overall. Second, it studies the job status of women regarding the sports department. Third, it focuses on the reasons for entering pursuing this career and field. Lastly, it gives some advice for women who might choose to follow this field. The study showed that most women are happy with the tasks they receive in the workplace. The study also indicates that most women have gone through discrimination in their field. The study also suggests that many women felt they had to provide coverage to female sporting events than the men in their departments. The value of this study is that it mainly focuses on print media, therefore it can provide a different and more specific viewpoint than the others. Furthermore, this study focuses on demographics, so we can see how different cultures correlate to different factors in sports print media.

4.”Aiming for More Air Time Debate Picks Up on Women’s Place in Sportscasting.”

Martzke, Rudy. “Aiming for More Air Time Debate Picks Up on Women’s Place in Sportscasting.” Usa Today, Sep 07, 2000, pp. C.1. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/408826855?accountid=11107.

This article focuses on the debate of women and men on the topic of women getting more air time in sports coverage. The article shows the two sides of the debate. One that thinks that more could be done to improve and increase the role of women in sports media and thinks that progress can be made in a faster way. It also shows the other side of the coin. The one that thinks men are more qualified than women to be sportscaster. Or which simply thinks that men who have been very long in their positions should not lose them to women. The article also shows several important times in this debate. Like when women have lost important positions in sportscasting. Or how now, one fifth of all sportscaster are women. I believe this source is valuable because it shows the counterargument to our argument. I believe it is always helpful to know counterarguments. Furthermore, this article includes important times in the timeline of women as sportscasters.


5.”Doris Burke has Game.”

Scheiber, Noam. “Doris Burke has Game.”ProQuest, Apr 28, 2018, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/2031679342?accountid=11107.


This short article focuses on Doris Burke, the first female to receive a normal job as a sports analyst in a major broadcasting agency. Doris Burke is an NBA analyst. This article focuses on her relationship with mainly NBA players, coaches and staff. Normally, women sportscaster or analysts are very discriminated by the players, or coaches they have to cover. However, the relationship Doris Burke has with most NBA players does not show this. The article shows how although, she is not discriminated as much as other female sports analysts, she still suffers some discrimination. One of the biggest examples is how coaches or player apologize for cursing when she interviews them. This article is very valuable for two main reasons. One is that it a specific case study which focuses on one of the better-known women sportscasters, and first NBA analyst. The other reason is that this article gives an example of how even women who are at the top positions in sports media continue to be discriminated.

6.”Women Detail ESPN Culture of Harassment.”

Abelson, Jenn. “Women Detail ESPN Culture of Harassment.” Boston Globe, Dec 15, 2017. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1977013607?accountid=11107.

This is an article that focuses on the harassment women experience at one of the major sports networking companies, ESPN. The article mentions harassment experienced by women in the broadcasting agency. Some of the things they experienced were unwanted shoulder rubs, or other forms of physical contact, being rated based on their looks by their male colleagues, unwanted sexual propositions, etc. Furthermore, the article shows the insecurity of women sportscasters in their jobs. Many women recall hiding pregnancies or having short maternity leaves to keep their jobs. The article shows that the sexism problems at ESPN run pretty deep into their roots. Furthermore, they detail some legal allegations against the broadcasting giant. However, ESPN is quick and steady to claim that they do not support a culture of sexism in their workplace. This is a very valuable source because it shows the true working conditions women face in sports media. Furthermore, it is very important because ESPN is one of the biggest sports broadcasting agencies and employers.

How the writing in “Grace and Frankie” comes in handy:

Grace and Frankie takes on the issues of two couples that were separated because one of the partners had been secretly in love with someone of their same sex. Throughout the first episode, we can see glimpses of what the characters are like through the way they dialogue with each other. In this way the writers, use dialogue to characterize their main characters. Given that this was the first episode of Grace and Frankie, the writing often felt slow, however I attribute this to the fact that the pilot episode often serves as the introduction to the series.

The way dialogue occurs between the characters is used to show us how they are. For example, we can see how Sol often stutters when speaking with Robert. This could indicate that he is still somehow insecure about his true sexual orientation. However, when he briefly speaks with Frankie, as a friend, he does not stutter. Through Sol’s stuttering or absence of such, we can see how complex the issues Sol has to deal with are. On the other hand, Robert is very secure when he speaks. However, when he dialogues with Grace, we can see how he often leaves many silences. These silences can indicate two things. First, it hints at how he feels kind of sorry for hurting Grace in the way he did. Furthermore, in the spots the silences are placed, we can see it as a hint that he hoped that his wife would have noticed about his true sexual orientation beforehand, given that he was sort of more open to it.

We can further see how Robert is more comfortable with his sexual orientation in how he often is the one to initiate physical contact.

When we focus on the dialogue that occurs between Grace and Frankie, we can see their true feeling behind the shocking news they just received. When they drink the Peyote tea, and take the muscle relaxers, they open a lot to each other. The dialogue that occurs here is very revealing of their characteristics. For example, we notice that Grace feels angry about the news, while Frankie feels more heartbroken.

I really enjoyed the way Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris wrote the episode. Marta Kauffman is mostly known for co-producing and being a writer in the sitcom “Friends”. Something that stands out to me is that just like “Grace and Frankie”, “Friends” uses plenty of dialogue to characterize their characters. I also imagine Frankie being an older version of Phoebe.

Friends was a popular show also written and produced by Marta Kauffman.

Netflix and Blogposts

Hey y’all! My name is Rafael Barrientos; however, I go by my second name, Ernesto. I am from El Salvador, and a first-year student majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Hopefully, I will be graduating in 2022.

Image result for lago de coatepeque

That is a popular destination in my country

I am an international student; however, I have taken English courses throughout all my life. In my school I took English courses like AP Language and Composition. Therefore, I feel pretty comfortable writing and reading in English. I am very excited to further explore the electronic mode of communications, like Twitter, Blog posts, and Netflix. As an international student, I tend to have an accent, which sometimes makes me nervous, and probably affects my oral communication skills. However, I plan to speak plenty of English to feel more comfortable when speaking it. This is my first English class at Georgia Tech, and I am very excited for it. Especially for the aspect of TV and Feminism. Coming from a Latin-American country I can see how women (many times Latino women) are stuck portraying the same types of archetypal roles. Often Latino women are either playing a bombshell or a cleaning lady. Hopefully in the near future, Latino (and overall all) women can expand into more meaningful and powerful roles.

In can proudly say that I am a TV fanatic (of like five series). Mainly I have commitment issues with my series. I am afraid of committing to a forty-minute episode, given that I feel that they take more time to complete. Therefore, I stick to mostly twenty-minute episode series, like: How I Met Your Mother, That 70’s Show, etc. Probably the only long episode series I have binged is Game of Thrones.

Image result for barney stinson meme

“When they tell mw I cannot binge on How I Met Your Mother again”

For this course, I have chosen to review the series Grace and Frankie. I chose this show because it is a sitcom and has short episodes. Furthermore, my sister recommended it to me a long time ago. I have decided to trust her TV show taste. I think this show is about two women who do not get along and now are forced to get along, because their husbands are in a romantic relationship. Sit back, relax, and continue to enjoy the Grace and Frankie blog posts.

Image result for grace and frankie

“Well this looks awkward”

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