English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Sierra Villarreal

A sense of empathy

Sense 8 is written by Lana and Lilly Wachowski. They are both trans women, formally known as the Wachowski brothers. They were the writers of The Matrix (1999) an iconic movie. After discovering this the show Sense8 now makes a lot of sense. They are both elaborate, reality questioning works of science fictions.


Particularly, Sense8’s writing is very unique- unlike anything I have seen before. This is a serious science fiction drama. Unlike many TV shows, including those of science fiction, there is no comedic relief. Everything every character says is deliberate and includes a specific meaning or message. This deliberate style is used intentionally to captivate the viewer. This is not the show to put on in the background while you are eating dinner or doing homework. You have to pay attention. You want to pay attention.


Not only is the deliberacy of the timing- when dialogue is used- captivating, but the diction picked out is used so beautifully to convey the deeper elements of human emotion that people often have trouble describing for themselves.


We all struggle to understand our emotions. The premise of this show is to make ourselves question our understanding of ourselves and the relationships within our lives. By having the eight main character be connected by something so much stronger than normal human connection. Something so strong that they can feel what each other is feeling emotionally allows for the greater exploration of human empathy.


The writing as seen through the dialogue of this show can demonstrate how this message is portrayed. After Lito has gotten his world rocked by the end of his relationship with Hernando, now his ex-boyfriend, he sits in the Diego Rivera Museum contemplating love and his fear of coming out. Lito describes his first kiss with Hernando to Nomi as a ‘religious experience’, but he is still afraid that he will ‘lose everything’ he has worked for in his career by coming out. Even though it is clear that he has already lost so much from losing Hernando. Nomi helps him evaluate his life by describing that at some point she learned that there is ‘a huge difference between what we work for and what we live for’.


This dialogue between Lito and Nomi helps everyone contemplate their priorities in life and where the love in their life stems from. For every viewer the reaction to this scene is different, but I felt grateful for the people in my life and reminded that school is not the end all be all.

“The Wachowskis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Nov. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wachowskis

A Sense of Culture

One of the highlights of Sense 8 is its ability to capture the complexities of many different cultures.  In particular is focus on the toxic masculinity of machismo culture. Machismo culture is a way of behaving that coincides with the traditional ideas about men being very strong, aggressive and emotionless. This is a part of many cultures but strongly evident in the show by Lito’s story. Lito is a gay mexican actor who has been hiding in the closet his entire career. The Machismo culture very evident in Latin American and South American Countries has forced him to play the role of a straight man in his everyday life.


Lito’s character believes that his entire career will be destroyed if anyone ever finds out his secret. This is evident in the scene where Dani’s ex-lover breaks into Lito’s apartment, steals Dani’s phone, and attempts to blackmail Lito with pornographic photos of Lito and Hernando (Lito’s Boyfriend). In an attempt to right her wrongs, Dani goes to her ex-lover and arranges to marry him in order to save Lito’s career. Lito lets his friend return into an abusive relationship so as to save his career. The Mexican machismo culture has forced Lito to make arguably toxic decisions.


Furthermore, Dani’s ex-lover, Joaquin, is a more traditional example of machismo culture. He admittedly tries to become the overly aggressive and controlling man his father was. Demonstrating how the culture passes down this toxic masculinity through generations. Joaquin even tried to rationalize his use of physical abuse towards Dani by saying ‘this is Mexico’ as if the normalization of domestic abuse makes it morally okay.


Toxic masculinity is evident everywhere in this show and is even plot driving.


Lito’s decision to let Dani exile herself for his career was a driving factor for Hernando to break up with Lito. This leaves the question…Will Lito come out?? And IF so what are the effects???

Sierra Villarreal

Gender Norms and Culture- Sense8

Sense 8 is a very unique show. I’ve never seen a show that has so many subplots attached to the main plot. Eight different stories are told. Not just different in that different events are happening in each story, but different in almost every aspect. Each character has a unique cultural background that brings something unique to the show. These unique cultural backgrounds of the characters allow different gender norms to be represented from across the globe. Of the eight main characters there are 4 that identify as female and 4 that identify as male.


For an example of the way that gender is represented differently dependent on the cultural background of the character, lets compare and contrast the characters Sun and Lito.

Sense8 Season 2

Sun is a business women from South Korea but she has a secret hobby. She fights. Not just women but also men. She is tough and hard willed. Yet, she is always undermined by her father and brother. Even though her brother stole from her father’s company that she worked so hard for with no credit, Sun takes the blame so that her father’s company will not fall through. She is a woman that makes endless sacrifices and in part because of that she is strong. She is forced to fulfill a role she wasn’t meant to be in.

Lito is a male actor in Mexico that also has a secret. He is gay but must hide this from the public because of the machismo male culture of not only his country but the entertainment industry. He presents himself as this tough heterosexual male with a great body because, like Sun, that is what is expected. Both characters are tough because they are forced into a box they do not belong, yet they still conform to gender norms- much like us all.


Don’t forget. Everyone is a person.

Sense 8 is a television show that is known for its diverse cast and filming locations. This is done very intentionally. I mean, it would be significantly easier and have taken a lot less money to have the same concept shot only in one country or with one type of people. Yet, that is not what they did. The show is founded upon the idea of human interconnection. Eight people from eight different cities across the globe all come together because they have been ‘reborn’-a term used in the show which entails that ability to see and feel from other people’s bodies.

Throughout the show the viewer watches these eight individuals find the extent of their new abilities while learning about each person and their struggles. Overwhelmingly, all of the people are very open-minded and empathetic to each other. There is no hatred or discrimination amongst the group of eight. Is this because they are all sharing this common connection and the struggles that come with it? or Is there a greater message to be seen from the interactions between characters? In episode 5, Capheus and Sun share a moment where they have a conversation on some steps in the street of Seoul, Korea. During the conversation, it is obvious that they share very similar family struggles and end up helping each other cope.

You may be wondering- how on earth can these people realistically communicate? Yes, in everyday life language barriers are very troublesome. Many times they allow people to distance themselves from other large groups of people and their respective cultures. Nevertheless, after being reborn, the group of 8 share such a strong and immediate connection such that they posses the language skills of all the other characters. Not only do they possess their languages, but, done right, they can posses other’s skills as well. Overall, the theme that I have been building up to here is that beyond languages and cultures, everyone is a person and we are more alike than many want to admit.

-sierra villarreal

Women in Sports media the Hard Truth (sources)

Works Cited

Hardin, Marie, and Jennifer D. Greer. “The Influence of Gender-Role Socialization, Media useand Sports Participation on Perceptions of Gender-Appropriate Sports.” Journal of Sport Behavior, vol. 32, no. 2, 2009, pp. 207-226. ProQuest,http://prx.library.gatech.edu /loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/ docview/215875384?accountid=11107.

This study attempts to understand how sports in U.S. society are viewed taking into consideration  gender norms. This study examines the relationship between media, sports participation, and ‘gender role socialization’ with the typing of sports as masculine or feminine by utilizing a survey of 340 college students. The study also brings in outside research to provide a statistical representation on sports media coverage, in particular during the Olympics. It argues that although these factors impact ‘typing’ for some sports to an extent the overall findings demonstrate that ‘traditional gender-typing’ of sports is inelastic. Although this source is not directly studying women in the media it is valuable because it looks at the psychological aspect of social learning theory and gender norms- within media- on its viewers. This is important to our research because it conveys implications of gender representation in sports media on its audience and society in general, allowing us to show how our research itself is important.

“INDIANA UNIVERSITY, ASSOCIATION FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS MEDIA,ASSOCIATED PRESS SPORTS EDITORS AND NATIONAL SPORTSCASTERSAND SPORTSWRITERS HOSTING SPECIAL PANEL ON WOMEN IN SPORTSMEDIA.” US Fed News Service, Including US State News, Mar 29, 2011. ProQuest,http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https:// search .proquest .com/docview/858895477?accountid=11107.

This source is a newspaper article from the US Fed News Service. It describes a panel discussion at the University of Indiana made in order to discuss issues of gender in sports media. In particular, the discussion is aimed to look into the changing roles of women in sports media careers as well as the challenges they face. The panel includes Shelly Smith who works for ESPN and is able to attest to the gender specific controversies from the network. The discussion also covers the very publicized sexual harassment of Ines Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca. This source is valuable to my groups research because it gives descriptive first person insight into the challenges and scandal’s faced by women in sports media careers  This newspaper source gives an important if not the most important perspective on these issues, women in the field themselves. The article will allow us to point at specific examples of harassment and analyze with other sources what this means for women in sports media and women in general.


Hardin, Marie, and Stacie Shain. “Female Sports Journalists: Are we there Yet? ‘no’.” Newspaper Research Journal, vol. 26, no. 4, 2005, pp. 22-35. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/loginurl=https://search.proquest.com/docview/200695998?accountid=11107

This source is a newspaper research journal from 2005 investigating on the job discrimination and lack of reward felt by women in sport media. The source includes information on the still small amount of women in the field even 30 years after Title IX opened doors for women to ‘write sports’. The journal also discusses how not only are their not a lot of women but most never see higher up or management positions even after long periods of time in the field. The journal is a literature review which includes analysis of several surveys about discrimination and harassment in the sports media field that took place over the 90’s. Even though this source is not extremely recent, it is valuable because it will show us insight into how the discrimination and harassment has or has not changed over the recent decades when compared to more recent statistics and sources.


6, 2017 March. “Women in Sports Media Cite Progress, Obstacles.” Sports Business Journal, 6 Mar. 2017,www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2017/03/06/ Opinion/From-The- Executive-Editor.aspx.

This source is a journal article from Sports Business Journal that discusses the still-evident challenges that women face in sports media. The article is from the perspective of a man, Abraham Madkour, and gives a look into the more recent statistics of women in sports media as well as commending the job of many ESPN women sportscasters. The article brings the audience’s attention towards to underrepresentation of women in sport media careers as well as making claims toward the validity of their opinions. The fact that a white man has to establish these thoughts in order for them to gain attention and validation in the year 2017 portrays a lot of how we still see women in these fields despite what the author is trying to point out. This source is valuable because it gives more recent statistics and can be used to analyze the current social dynamic surrounding the issue.


Dicardo, Julie. “Ugly Truth about Women in Sports and Social Media.” Sports Illustrated, 27 Sept. 2015,www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats- vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists.

This source is a Sports Illustrated article written by a female sports newscaster about the harassment she recieves on social media, specifically Twitter. She discusses the hyper-masculine culture of sports online that causes many men to become extremely defensive on social media platforms where they feel they can voice their offensive opinions with no repercussions. She gives specific examples of instincts where she received vulgar tweets towards herself for simply doing her job. This article also gives great first hand insight into the social dynamic surrounding women in sports media and the heat they get which men do not. This article is valuable because it is written by a female sports journalist about her struggles specifically while giving good examples on the harassment she faces. Likewise, it can be used to draw conclusions about the masculine culture of sports based on how they treat women in the field, showing the repercussions of the masculine sports culture on women.


Spain, Sarah. “Women in Sports Media Shouldn’t Have to ‘Ignore’ Abuse.” ESPN, ESPN InternetVentures, 28 Apr. 2016, www.espn.com/espnw/voices/ article/15412369/women-sports-media-ignore-abuse.

This source is an ESPN article that also delves into the treatment of women sportscasters on social media. The article is written by a Sarah Spain, an ESPN sports columnist with experience into the harassment that women face in sports media careers. The online article also includes a video that includes men reading harsh and vulgar tweets to the women sportscasters they are directed at. The video is a powerful social experiment that emphasizes how the social media can enhance the effects of verbal abuse towards women in general and in sports media. When the men read the tweets out loud it is very emotional and conveys just how much abuse women have to overcome to do their job. This source is valuable because it demonstrates how discrimination to women in this field have faced discrimination ongoing for decades with little end in sight. It also can be used to analyze the culture surrounding gender and sports.

Sierra Villarreal

‘I really am going crazy’

Sense8 is an American science fiction drama series that has an incredibly multinational cast. The beginning episodes take place in 8 different parts of the world. Amazingly, the show is filmed almost entirely on location which means that it was filmed all across the world. This is an incredible feat for the crew of the show, and it makes me appreciate it a lot more.


The show has 8 main characters are all linked together emotionally and physically. This means that each character has to share a lot of screen time and there are many subplots within the main one. Filming this in such a way that the audience does not get lost must have been very challenging, but they did a great job. They made this show very enjoyable to watch and very captivating so I don’t have to go crazy.


Longer takes with more dialogue give background into each of the respective characters lives. Contrastingly, many shorter shots are used to instill a sense of curiosity and confusion into the viewer to resonate with the confusion of the characters as they try to understand their experiences while we do. These shorter shots also tend to have a darker color scheme to symbolize the distress of the characters while portraying the thematic topic of magical realism.


At this point in the show the color scheme during the times that the characters interlink seems to remain stark and dull. I don’t know if this is because they seem to become connected during times of distress. If it is because they are confused and scared by the physical and emotional connections between them because it’s purpose is unknown? Or if it is simply because their connection is something bad. I don’t think it is because their connection means darkness or foreshadowing of bad events because their respective connections seems to make them stronger, more insightful, and may even represent inclusion as a whole. Regardless, the show has captivated me the whole time. Can’t wait to keep watching. 10/10 recommend so far!

-Sierra Villarreal

I Sense a gr8 TV Show

Hello everyone! I’m Sierra Villarreal. I am currently majoring in Biomedical Engineering and hopefully graduating in 2022.

Even though I am an engineering major, English class has always been one of my favorite classes. English 1102 will be my first English class at GT, and I am super excited to see the analytical twists that it has to offer. A large part of most English classes are analyzing different mediums while in this class we focus more on the communication aspect. I see so many exciting applications for this because communication- whether it be written, oral, visual, electronic, or nonverbal- is an incredibly important skill for a successful life. I enjoy written and visual communication the best because those are the two mediums that I practice most frequently. I would love to improve on my nonverbal and oral skills because I believe that conversation is a lost art.

As far as television and feminism goes, I have a newfound appreciation for both. Television is one of the most influential aspects of society since TV shows have the ability to reach people in masses. I love binge watching a good series, but I love even more when a series defies my expectation or leaves me contemplating unanswered questions. My favorite thing to look for in a show is something confusing that will hopefully give me a new perspective or absolutely absurd satirical comedy.

For my TV show that I will be analyzing this semester, I chose Sense8. Sense8 is an American science fiction drama in which 8 people all over the world share a random connection. This connection is a strong emotional, sensual, and intellectual connection. I chose this show because it represents many different types of people all over the world and will hopefully provide me with some interesting perspectives. The show has also been recommended to me several times and now I have an excuse to watch it! Stay tooned to go on this journey with me:)

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