English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Shahar Ben-Dor

Grey’s Anatomy is Much More Interesting Than You Think

For the last blog post I’d like to talk about the format that makes Grey’s Anatomy stand out from many other television shows.

Let’s start with the overall tone of the show. Episode five of season one starts with Dr. Meredith Grey holding a woman’s heart after being awake for forty-eight hours. Soon after she releases the heart into the woman’s chest, the heart stops beating. Luckily, Dr. Burke is able to revive the heart with a defibrillator. It is later revealed that Meredith’s glove had a puncture in it and she may have punctured the heart as she was dealing with it. What does this have to do with the show? Well, this entire scene was part of the first ten minutes of the episode. The conflict is established and the show is already able to spark the audience’s interest before it even plays the intro sequence. The reason this is so interesting to the viewers is because throughout Grey’s Anatomy, many lives rest upon the hands of the main characters and when lives are at stake, people tend to take things much more seriously.

The episode continues with another patient who undergoes a surgery in which a towel is discovered inside her lungs. The towel is promptly removed but the situation is investigated. It is found that Dr. Burke, a highly ranked surgeon at the hospital was the leading surgeon in the surgery that the same women underwent five years prior. This sparks even more interest in the audience since the situation is somewhat similar to the one that is presented at the beginning of the episode, however, this time the stakes are much higher because a mistake such as leaving a towel inside a patient is something that can get someone fired, and when the audience finds out that the person responsible is one of the main characters of the show, the question that stems from that is “will Dr. Burke get fired?”

This is the towel that was removed from the patient’s body

Grey’s Anatomy Includes Everyone

This week I watched the 4th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Every gender was equally represented in the episode and there were about the same number of male characters as there were female. This episode however, seemed to focus a lot on the female gender as a lot of it focused on how Izzie used to be a model. This led to many of her pictures being posted and talk about around the hospital and underlined the way that men and women think about female models with one patient even denying her the opportunity to conduct surgery on him because he fantasized about her before.

The agency of the show is mainly controlled by the character’s job title in the hospital’s job hierarchy. Males seem to take the position of chief and 2 of the head surgeons but a very strict women (Bailey) takes the position of resident which is also quite high. The rest of the main characters take positions of interns, doing very basic and easy tasks for the people in higher power and do the tasks that they’re being told to do. These interns are both male and female with no pattern as to who has more power over the other.

The show is able to connect gender, race, and everything in between very well. Bailey is an African American women while Dr. Burke is an African American man who is one of the head surgeons. Race seems to be varied between the characters and gender as well with both males and females taking positions of power in the hospital. In my opinion, the show does a good job of including all types of people, even if they’re not main characters. For example, the show includes many different types of patients, some with mental illnesses, some with disabilities, and patients of many different classes.

Miranda Bailey is considered the most strict resident of the hospital

Dead Patients Aren’t Just Organs

This week, I saw the 3rd episode of Grey’s Anatomy. As with each episode, the show was arguing a couple of things. The first thing it argued was the behavior of men towards women. For example, in the same episode, one of Meredith’s patients tried to hit on her as well as her co-intern Alex Karev, as well as Derek Shepard. With Alex, the way he approached Meredith was very rude which causes me to believe that the episode tried to show the receiving end of the interaction and make the audience realize that it was disrespectful.

Another thing that the episode tried to argue was that dead patients are still human beings. For example, when Cristina was talking to the family of a brain-dead patient about harvesting his organs, she talked about the patient like it was a dead pile of organs that they could use on other patients. The episode shows the reaction of the family and makes the audience realize that even though a patient might be dead, they still have family and a life where people cared for them and that it’s important to think about that as well.

The second theme closely relates to the show because the show is based on the lives of many patients, many of which end up not making it. This realization that each patient has a family and a life, causes the audience of the show to be able to connect with each patient to actually feel sorry when each patient passes away in the future of the show. This also puts the audience in the shoes of the doctors, making them realize that each patient, alive or dead, is still a human beings and not just a pile of organs. Even the connection that Izzie forms with the patient strengthens this point because it shows that even though a patient may be brain dead, they’re still alive inside.

This patient hits on Meredith as she’s trying to look at his wound

The Thinking Behind the Shots of Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy has a lot of cinematographic elements that I think are important to be mentioned. Why? Well Grey’s Anatomy makes use of so many different elements with each having a purpose and relevance to the show that when pointed out, make it much more fun to watch the show. Let’s start with the shots.

Each shot in the TV show is carefully planned. Some shots show a wide view of the scene while some shots zoom in to the action. During very intense parts of episodes, the shots are very short to simulate action and a constant shift of focus. Contrary, if the characters are having long discussions, shots are long and steady to give the audience the feeling of being part of the conversation. The length of each shot invokes a certain feeling in the audience along with background music, dialogue, and the position of the shot.

The lighting is also a key element that’s hard not to notice. The entire show seems to be a bit saturated, especially in shots where there is more blood present or more sadness. Most bright shots in the episodes come at the end where Meredith narrates some lesson that she’s learned as an intern. This is to signify a happy ending or “a rainbow within the rain”. These endings normally also show the sun in some way or another to bring a bit of happiness and sunshine into the episode and the show. The dialogue of the characters fades out, grey’s analogue starts, the music fades in, and the episode ends.

The episode of this blog post’s concern is the 2nd episode in season 1. Most lighting effects/shot styles that are present in this episode also play a role in the majority of the other episodes of the season. These tricks are used by the show’s production team to allow for a stronger connection between the audience, the characters, and the show.

Saturated colors in season 1 episode 2 of Grey’s Anatomy

Women in the Television News – Annotated Bibliography

Source 1:

Citation: Hetsroni, Amir, and Hila Lowenstein. “Is She an Expert Or just a Woman? Gender Differences in the Presentation of Experts in TV Talk shows.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 9-10, 2014, pp. 376-386. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1531890816?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0370-z.

Summary: In this article, a study was conducted to explore the representation of experts on television with respect to their gender. The study was done on 64 Israeli talk shows from 2012 where 495 experts took part. The results of the study were quite interesting. First, the study showed that male experts outnumbered women experts in a ratio of 1.7:1. The men were also older than the women experts and tended to possess a higher academic rank. The differences were also visible when it came to the topics that the experts were asked to comment on, with men more likely to talk about security, self-defense, politics, and economy, while the women often commented on body grooming and child care. The question that we are left with at the end of this study is “has the representation of women changed over the years or are women still portrayed as inferior to men on TV?”

Importance: Shows that women ares still portrayed as inferior to men on the news as of 2012.


Source 2:

Citation: Lachover, Einat. “JUST BEING A WOMAN ISN’T ENOUGH ANY MORE: Israeli Television News of Women in Local Politics.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 12, no. 3, 2012, pp. 442. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1220402574?accountid=11107.

Summary: This article was based on a study conducted about TV and news coverage of women in the local elections held in Israel in 2008. The question of the study was “Did national TV news in Israel during the election campaign reflect the changes in the status of women in local politics that have occurred in the last two decades? How prominent was the representation of women politicians in national TV news coverage and what patterns did it display?” The study was conducted on all broadcasted content that dealt with women in the month prior to the local elections. Anything that featured a women candidate or featured topics relating to women in politics in general was recorded for the study. At the conclusion of the study, it was found that the extent to which the topics of women in politics were discussed on TV was not very large. This shows that women in politics are still a minority.

Importance: Shows that the topic of woman in politics is not discussed in the television news as much as it should be.


Source 3:

Citation: Carter, Bill. “TELEVISION; Women Anchors are on the Rise as Evening Stars.” New York Times, Aug 12, 1990. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/427772519?accountid=11107.

Summary: Maria Shriver, the anchor of the NBC News Sunday “Today” program went on maternity leave early 1990. She told NBC News executives that she did not want to go back to her previous role on the channel when she came back. She said that she wanted time to stay at home on the west coast with her newborn daughter. She asked for a part-time position, in which she was to anchor a series of prime-time specials for the network. NBC News President Michael G. Gartner was desperate to retain Ms. Shriver and agreed to her request. The result came to be known as “Cutting Edge With Maria Shriver”, a news special that was held four times a year and was to be shown Tuesday night at 10 on NBC. This led to a start of a new wave of women such as Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Jane Pauley, and Connie Chung, that started to take more prominent roles in news networks and television.

Importance: Shows that progress has been made since the 1990s, giving woman more prominent roles in new networks.


Source 4:

Citation: Barnes, Dottie M. Are Female Television News Anchors Still Judged by their Appearance: A Study of Gender Bias in Relation to Female Television News Anchors and their Perception of Age and Appearance Discrimination, Grand Valley State University, Ann Arbor, 2005. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/305349891?accountid=11107.

Summary: This study asks whether female TV news reporters are still judged by their appearance as they did from the 1980s to the 1990s. In 1998, women made up more than one-third of the workforce in television news and were half of all television news reporters and anchors. According to personal stories of female television news anchors, women still feel pressured to look young and attractive on news broadcasts. A 2005 survey showed that female anchors still felt like there is a big emphasis on their appearance. 17 were surveyed, 76.5% of which agreed or strongly agreed that throughout their careers, they’ve heard comments regarding their appearance. Only 2 of the 17 women disagreed, and another 2 were undecided. An even greater percentage, 88.2% agreed or strongly agreed that they’ve heard comments from their viewers about their appearance. These results show us that even though by 2005 we’ve come a long way with television and news, women still felt that their appearance on television still played a major role in their career as news anchors.

Importance: Shows that woman reporters are still expected to be attractive on television news, much like they were in the 1980s.


Source 5:

Citation: Powers, Angela. “Women in Television News Revisited.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 4, 1999, pp. 792-793. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/216932038?accountid=11107.

Summary: This article discusses the book of “Women in Television News Revisited” by Judith Marlane, which talks about the inequalities between men and women in television news. It addresses the “painful subjects of being a woman in what is still an industry controlled by men”. The book talks about the fact that males still dominate boardrooms of television news and that women are still not equally treated in the industry. The book contains a collection of stories from seventy female and fifteen male accounts addressing “everything from marriage and family to aging”. The book goes on to reflecting on how society describes old men as “interesting”, while old women are described as “finished”. Marlane also discusses the difficulties of being a woman and a minority. She mentions that the problem of diversity is acknowledged in most newsrooms, but also mentions that there has been less commitment to bringing minorities into broadcasting professions while networks claim they “cannot find qualified people”.

Importance: This article touches on issues such as being a woman and a minority, which are not discussed in the articles.


Source 6:

Citation: Willer, Sarah E. Women News Directors: Gender Obstacles to Achieving Television Newsroom Leadership, San Diego State University, Ann Arbor, 2014. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1614530378?accountid=11107.

Summary: Women are represented by various media messages everyday yet there is little thought that is dedicated to the women behind these messages. This study is dedicated to examine the “personal, institutional, and socio-cultural” obstacles that woman news workers face in their career path to becoming a news director, and how current women news directors were able to overcome these obstacles. The study was conducted using surveys and interviews, going deeper than just the descriptive numbers but into why the numbers are so low and what can be done to encourage more women to strive to become news directors. On a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being strongly disagree to 7 being strongly agree, in answering the question “It is more difficult for a woman to advance to the position of news director”, the average of all male answers was 3.44 while the average of all woman answers was 4.56. This study shows that from a woman’s perspective, it is significantly harder to become a news director than it is for a man.

Importance: Gives incite into what it’s like for a women to get promoted in the television news industry.

An Awesome Review of the First Episode of Grey’s Anatomy

I will focus this blog post on the first episode of Season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. Shonda Rhimes is credited with writing this episode. She’s also written episodes for “Scandal”, “The Writers’ Room”, “Private Practice”, “Gilded Lilys”, “A corazón abierto”, “Off the Map”, “Inside the Box”, and “Seattle Grace: Message of Hope”. The first episode’s dialogue is structured much like other TV shows, the characters in the episode have conversions between them as the plot gets revealed to the viewers. The dialogue in Grey’s Anatomy is very informal. That is, the characters talk between themselves in a way that is easy for an average person to understand. However, some parts of their dialogue include medical terminology that an average person might not know. I for example, didn’t know much of the medical terms that were exchanged between the characters. However, the medical terms are explained to patients and their families such that the viewers can also understand the plot. Throughout the episode, there are multiple moments in which Meredith’s voiceover is played to the viewers. Funnily enough, the voice over played at the beginning of the episode wasn’t originally part of the episode, but Rhimes said that “In the editing room, it felt like a piece was missing, so we added it”. The voice over is used as a way of explaining and revealing Meredith’s thoughts to the viewers without Meredith directly saying them to anyone. It reveals Meredith’s stress and anxiety throughout the episode and strengthens the connection between Meredith and the viewers. Silence is also used in the episode at times of panic. Well, not silence exactly but background music which overtakes the audio from the episode. For example, during one of the surgeries in the episode, the characters struggle to help a dying patient and the song “Life Is Short” by Butterfly Voucher is played overtaking the audio in the episode. The happy vibe of the song is a complete contrast to the mood of the episode. There are no literary allusions that stand out. What does stand out about the writing is how the episode was able to portray the difficulties of being an intern at a hospital so well to the viewers.

Image from Grey’s Anatomy season 1, episode 1

Don’t Judge Me This Is My First Blog Post

Hi, I’m Shahar Ben-Dor, I’m studying Mechanical Engineering and I anticipate graduation at 2022. As a summer freshman I took English 1101 at Georgia Tech. It was not that bad since the only classes I had to study for were that and History. I struggle with visual communication but ironically, It’s also my favorite. I think that it’s the best form of communication just like the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This semester, I’ll try to use visual communication as much as possible, using pictures and creating videos when possible.

I’ve never been in a tv-oriented English class so I’m really looking forward to this semester. Unfortunately, I’m not a TV fanatic. I don’t binge watch Netflix shows but I do enjoy good movies. Regardless, the platform I spend most of my time on is on YouTube. The main types of videos that I watch on YouTube are tutorials and interesting facts. My favorite channel is HalfAsInteresting. I recommend it to all my friends. Besides that, the only show I really ever connected to was How I Met Your Mother. It was by far the best show I’ve ever watched.

I’ve chosen to review Grey’s Anatomy. It’s about how a group of interns start to work at a new hospital and become best friends over time as they have to deal with hard cases and work together. The main reason I chose it was because my sister recommended it to me so much. My parents are also doctors so I could ask them if I have any questions. Much of my other friends also watch the show and it will give us something to talk about.

I’m excited to start this semester and watch TV Shows. This seems like it will be a very fun class.

An inspirational quote I use to inspire myself

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