English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Tanishq Sandhu

Grey’s Anatomy: More than just a show

One thing that has really stuck out about Grey’s Anatomy and Shonda Rhimes’s plot line for this show is that there is no fear in touching upon social issues or common stereotypes. These stereotypes include mass shootings, lgbqt, death penalty, working with people of different backgrounds, the morality of turning life support off, undocumented immigrants healthcare, interracial families, morality of having babies who you know will have mental or physical disabilities, alcoholism, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/DREAM , honoring DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) requests if there is hope of recovery, etc. I even watched an interview of Ellen Pompeo (who plays the main character Meredith Grey) on the Ellen show where she starts tearing up in terms of how powerful this show is not only in terms of the free medical education they give but how it brings society together. There is one scene where an intern who wears a religious head scarf, takes of her scarf to patch up a bleeding patient and then she goes on to explain to her curious supervisor how her religion is all in favor of helping people. At that time all the viewers probably empathized and felt connected to her breaking the cultural stereotypes held and showing that all people are similar on the insides. In another scene, Derek has an African American child and gets stares from other parents. The viewers who have seen Derek from the beginning and how they adopted this child who needed someone and, in that moment, looked down upon those staring parents. However, perhaps those viewers were those very same parents who stared on. Greys Anatomy has a way of showing us how the stereotypes we hold seem so funny, unnecessary, and immature. I can say without a doubt that this show has helped me grow as an individual not only in terms of character but also in terms of medically. I make smarter choices for my own health and am more educated talking to others. For example, my friend is getting a pacemaker, and I was able to follow his doctor’s language and diagnosis and able to participate in a two way conversation. And as my last post, I want to say how grateful I was that this project helped me discover Grey’s.

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Dr. Dahlia Qadri removing her Hijab(Headwear) to help her patient.

Tense, Urgent, Fearful: the Truth of a Hospital’s Environment

(Topic 2)

The episode (and series) is written by Stacy McKee. That has been her primary achievement/occupation since Grey’s Anatomy is one of the longest running shows. She won the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. The dialogue is usually quick with the camera and dialogue shifting back and forth as the characters even break each other’s statements to start their own. This seems to create a sense of urgency and creates a tense and stressful environment. This is very much needed since it is the norm in hospitals where people need split-second decisions to save their lives and people dying is very common. Silence is usually used to allow the viewers to feel the finality and the depth of what has happened. This is usually after a death, an argument, someone leaving, or anything where there is a negative emotion to be felt. There are a lot of flashbacks usually either related to suffering in the past such as when Meredith Grey remembers how her mom neglected her or when April Kepner and Jackson Avery remember how their happy marriage turned out so badly or also happiness earlier on in life such as when Meredith Gray remembers how much she loved Derek Shepherd and how great their marriage was. The writing really seems to just capture the air and environment of a hospital, the urgency, the hope, the sadness, the desperation, the fear, and even the brightness of a fixed patient. The writer was perfect for the job and I believe is the rightful recipient of the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. Her writing has been instrumental in keeping viewers hooked for over 15 years with the same show as characters have come and gone. It’s the style of this show that has kept the viewers at bay.

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(Stacey McKee is pictured above)

Gender Inequalities don’t Exist in the Eyes of Science

I think one thing I really enjoy about Grey’s Anatomy is that it touches upon stereotypes and how they exist to a certain degree but also shows that people aren’t defined or restricted by those stereotypes and they are capable of so much more. For example, Meredith Grey, the main character, is shown as needing of her husband’s protective care at sometimes, but also the television show shows how she has gone through a rough upbringing from separated parents and a mother who neglected her and how it has made her tough and brave. In general, there is a good spread of women and men on the show in terms of doctors, patients, and other actors which is an accurate representation of the medical world where there is no gender inequality in the eyes of science. Both genders are shown as equals, with equal potential in terms of career growth or medically surviving their issue based no whether they are doctors and nurses or patients, respectively. There is also an equal balance of male and female characters in the forefront and outskirts of the show. Additionally, in terms of reactions, males and females are shown as generally reacting in the same ways, even with men generally being thought as “tougher” in the confines of the hospital where terrible medical news is dropped regularly, both genders have equally upset reactions. Another wonderful thing about this show is that it touches upon social issues and shows general perceptions and then changes them in a lowkey manner. Yes, disable, mentally ill, overweight, medically serious patients come in all the time, and the television show shows how nurses and doctors can be snarky and judgmental behind the patients’ backs. But, the show doesn’t stop there; the show then goes on to give the whole story and shows the patient as a whole person who is more than just their medical condition and how they deserve to be treated as such. The show also comfortably shows both straight and LBGQT couples.

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The show has a good mix of both gender characters.

Grey’s Anatomy is all about YOLO

Grey’s Anatomy can often be a quite emotionally packed television show, playing with ones emotions as people die left and right. As someone who is not generally a “cry-er”, I can attest to this fact. I think this has been done to send a clear message to the viewers that life is short and to make the best of it and don’t live with any regrets.

Whether it was Meredith drowning causing her lover to realize he wasn’t there for her, or Izzy’s patient and fiancée dying, or the chief trying to get back with his divorced wife only to find she had moved on, this show constantly shows how short and unexpected life can be. Even despite the overwhelming emotions felt by viewers, they come back and watch because this message is so true and important in their lives.

Over and over, a scenario repeats where a doctor gets worked up with fixing and saving a patient only to have them flatline on the Emergency Room table. It influences their personal lives as they realize that life is too short to hold a grudge against a loved one or to not speak to a friend or even to not tell someone how much they love them. In fact, that is one of the worst pains humans can feel: the pain of “what if” or “what could have been”, the fear of the uncertainty. The hospital is the perfect place to enforce this theme because of not only the deaths but also the fact that these doctors and nurses have less time for personal lives and so the theme of living life to the fullest is further emphasized by the fact that these individuals have shorter amounts of time to pursue their passions.

The recurring theme that the characters keep facing- YOLO (You only live once)

The Subconscious Effects of Visuals

(Topic #3)

Although I was a bit reluctant when I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, I have been absolutely hooked. To be honest, I finished a season and a half in one night! Grey’s Anatomy is shot in Seattle at the Seattle Grace Hospital. It is a lesser known fact that Seattle has, statistically, the most suicides in a year in any US city. This may seem like a random fact but it is actually very important to setting the tone in this show. Research shows that because it rains so often in Seattle and because the sky is often grey, it causes Seattle citizens to subconsciously feel gloomier. And coincidentally enough, the main character’s name is Grey. This setting factors in to allow the viewer to share the gloomy and scary reality of working at a hospital: the 48 hour shifts, the helplessness of losing one’s patient who you were talking to just an hour ago, breaking the news to family, giving up social life, etc. Furthermore, the doctors wear shades of dull blues to add to the melancholy and serious vibe at the hospital. However, whenever there is a scene where a patient miraculous defeats the odds and survives the background colors are always noticeably more vibrant and brighter. It’s amazing how a simple play of colors can affect the viewers’ experiences so greatly. Generally, the show has longer cuts, especially during medical procedures to show how the tedious the work can get. For example, they removed a 20-pound tumor and the long cut showed how difficult and uncomfortable it was for intern doctors to hold up the tumor while surgeons operated. In these specific scenarios, quick cuts would undermine the amount of diligence and patience required from these doctors.

Above are the somber colors typical of the normal day at the Seattle Grace Hospital (SGH).

Annotated Bibliography for How Gender Representation has Evolved Across Generations in Children’s and Adolescent Television

Towbin, Mia Adessa, et al. “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney       Feature- Length AnimatedFilms.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, vol. 15, no. 4, 2004,    pp. 19–44., doi:10.1300/j086v15n04_02.


Disney being the most common and largest children’s movie provider and television distributor, is one of a child’s and adolescent’s largest media influence throughout their upbringing. Whether it is watching their TV channel or movies over the television, Disney is the perfect place to start in terms of analyzing how gender representation has evolved over time in children’s and adolescent’s television.  Luckily this is the first study done on Disney movies on this topic of not only gender portrayals but also race, age, and sex portrayals. This source breaks down how Disney movies often depict many stereotypes whether it be showing only women who are under 30 and extremely thin or men who are dominant and successful. Interestingly, this source also shows how men are typically shown as emotionally unstable and violent when faced with challenges rather than thoughtful and profound. What is really amazing about this source is that it breaks down sections by the: a.) gender, b.) the stereotypes, c.) evidence and movies where this happened.


“Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender.” Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender,        & Culture, by Julia T. Wood and Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, Cengage Learning, 2017, pp. 231–244.


This source summarizes research of media in the late 90’s and how stereotypes in the media caused children and adults to live those stereotypes rather than let them be just that, stereotypes. This source further provides information on how children’s shows have grown boys into men who continue on the stereotypes that the shows in their childhood depicted. The article even gives an example where the 70’s TV, which showed women as nothing more than objects who satisfied men and did housework  and showed men as indifferent and rowdy, contributed to the end of the “gentleness” of men characteristic of that decade. This article is especially important because it shows that, inadvertently, the depiction of both men and women in children’s shows and children’s music videos causes for both genders to suffer in how they interact with each other and how it confines each other into cookie cutter family, social, and emotional roles.


Eick, Kelly. “Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Television Cartoons.” Definition, May 1998,         web.calpoly.edu/~jrubba/495/paper1.html.


This source is about a study on 5 children’s television shows, one created before 1985 and the rest after. In the study 5 episodes of each show are recorded for the numbers of male vs. female characters, physical characteristics of characters, and male/female roles in dilemma-solving and stereotyped jobs. The 5 television shows were very popular, among them were Scooby Doo and The Jetsons. Females were found to be highly underrepresented, accounting for only one-fourth of the characters and never the main characters.

This research is especially helpful at providing information about the children watching the show and how stereotypical shows affect the children at such a young age. For example, boys were found to be generally stubborn and not willing to watch shows with female leads whereas girls were more open and okay with watching shows with male leads. But the research also shows how society has improved over time with females gaining more screen presence.

Johnson, Fern L., and Karren Young. “Gendered Voices in Children’s Television Advertising.”Critical       Studies in Media Communication, vol. 19, no. 4, 2002, pp. 461-480. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/220423928?accountid=11107.

This source analyzes television commercials directed at children for the purpose of selling toys and the different tactics used for boys versus girls. They specifically tracked the verbs used in the respective commercial categories. The results supported the stereotypes of genders where male children oriented commercials used verbs relating to action, rivalry, control, domination, and aggression and female children oriented commercials used verbs relating to sedentary life styles, caring and nurturing, and emotions. The article also proves the importance of commercials that come between children’s television shows and how they have just as much influence on children if not more than television shows themselves. For example, “if a child watches just one hour of commercial television per day, that child would likely be exposed to at least 160 ads each week.”(Johnson) This piece opened my eyes to how I approached our research question: children’s television doesn’t only incorporate the shows themselves; it also incorporates the thousands of commercials that run between them. That can also be the reason that gender stereotypes have suffered. Perhaps people were so focused on eliminating gender prejudice from shows that they never considered commercials and what it feeds into the minds of their children.


Daalmans, Serena, Mariska Kleemans, and Anne Sadza. “Gender Representation on Gender-Targeted    Television Channels: A Comparison of Female- and Male-Targeted TV Channels in the       Netherlands.”Sex Roles, vol. 77, no. 5-6, 2017, pp. 366-378. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1927952499?acco   untid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0727-6.

This study in the Netherlands takes a step back from the television shows themselves and broadly looks at gender targeted television channels instead. This study does an excellent job showing how even gender targeted television channels fall into stereotypes. Male targeted channels had predominantly male characters. However, rather than female targeted channels having predominantly female characters as would be expected, they were found to have more equal gender representation. The research also showed that in recent male oriented children’s television channels show a continuation of the typical male dominant television shows whereas, female oriented children’s channels had more shows with reversal of stereotypes and gender equality.

This source is excellent in showing how while male television fights to keep male dominance, female television simply fights for basic equality and how this is also consistent in children’s television. The research is quite comprehensive, covering 1091 characters over 115 television shows over 4 channels.

Karniol, Rachel, Shiri Reichman, and Liat Fund. “Children’s Gender Orientation and Perceptions of Female, Male, and Gender-Ambiguous Animal Characters.”Sex Roles, vol. 43, no. 5, 2000, pp. 377-393. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225371758?accountid=11107.

This article explores gender stereotypes and gender perception by children and adolescents for animals who were clearly female, clearly male, or gender-ambiguous. This is the first article that I’ve come across that also delves into the realm of gender ambiguous stereotypes and perceptions by both males and females. This article shows how the early onset of gender stereotypes in children causes them to immediately begin trying to stereotype those gender ambiguous characters, even animals. Forexample, more often than not, gender ambiguous animals that are aggressive such as tigers, lions, snakes will automatically be perceived as male whereas more calm animals such as hippos, cats, and fish. Not only that, boys are found to have more of a liking for male and gender neutral characters whereas girls don’t show any clear favoritism between genders. Also, the results of the study show that we live in such a deeply patriarchal society that boys and girls both display a better liking for shows with a male animal character lead.



First Time I’ve ever been excited for an English Class… ever

Hey everyone! I’m Tanishq Sandhu from Dacula, GA. I’m here at Georgia Tech as a Computer Engineering major hoping to graduate by 2022. This is my first English course at Georgia Tech and I’m beyond excited for this semester. Yes, watching Netflix may be one reason I am so excited butthe main reason is that this English course is more aligned with incorporating modern ways of communicating such as tweeting, blogging, etc. This makes the class seem more relevant and thus makes it more engaging as compared to the typical high school English courses that stress writing essays repetitively. Even in this class I came in with a fear, because that is the impression I have from high school- writing until your hands can barely function any longer. I enjoy electronic and verbal communication with friends (talking, texting, and meeting up), but I struggle slightly with verbal communication with strangers such as giving speeches or striking up a conversation with someone I do not know and so this semester I want to practice this skill around campus by talking to new faces. Not only this, but I also hope to look for a leadership position where I get lots of practice working with new faces and talking in front larger groups. I honestly haven’t watch TV on a consistent basis since before high school started. With the increase in work, and decrease in free time, watching a television show became a rare commodity for me. I have chosen Grey’s Anatomy, a drama show about the relationships of a group of doctors at a Seattle hospital, simply because many of my friends in high school had recommended it and it is on the list of shows for this assignment. Now, I’ll have an excuse to watch it without feeling guilty about wasting time. Wow, I really love this class.


Grey’s Anatomy is known for its plot twists; many characters who are come to be favored by the viewers unexpectedly pass away.

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