English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #BlogPost3

New Girl, Old Archetypes

     From the very first episode, New Girl has a clear and direct focus on the experiences of a modern, young, single female in a typical US city. As a result of the main character Jess living in an apartment with three males, the show quickly establishes the relationship between the two genders as a focal point of both the story and comedy of the show.

The main cast of New Girl

     While the main cast (pictured above) has only one more male than female, the focus of the show on Jess’ life shifts the spread of the show closer to the experiences of young women. As demonstrated in the pilot, the struggle of Jess moving in with Schmidt, Nick, and Winston is analogous to her struggle to regain her independence after ending a long and committed relationship. Thus, the writers’ attention to Jess’ life concentrates the spread of gender representation towards the female experience, regardless of the physical representation of gender with actors.

     While the show explores the relationship between males and females, and while there are a few jokes made about Cece and Winston’s races, there is very little intersectionality. Despite the various ethnicities of the cast members, their typical, middle-class, heterosexual lives leaves little room for the show to explore or show more complex struggles with identity. However, though the characters may be limited to only heterosexual gender relationships, the extensive exploration of this facet still gives the show depth in its writing and humor.

     The cast and writing of New Girl dives into the humor and conversations that commonly arises between straight males and females to which the majority of the TV-viewing demographic can relate. Though the limited diversity of the main cast may not reflect a deep exploration of intersectional minorities, the light tone of the show ultimately demonstrates a focus on comedy and story-telling over social commentary.

Netflix. “New Girl S1:E1 ‘Pilot’.” Online Video Clip. Netflix. Netflix, 2018. Web.                16 October 2018.

Community and Help: An Important Element to Jessica Jones and the World

For this post, I analyzed the theme presented in Jessica Jones Episode 4 “AKA 99 Friends”.

Multiple arguments were made in this episode that bolstered the theme of the episode. First, the show played around the necessity of therapy in the episode. In this episode as well as the previous episode, Jessica is shown having a dismissive attitude towards therapy. Due to her PTSD, she often recites a series of words that remind her of her happiest moments. Even though Jessica always seem to dislike the idea of therapy, the show shows how the support group she is apart of helps her face Kilgrave, the main antagonist of the story. She even recommends that support group to Malcolm, Jessica’s neighbor. The show clearly argues the need of therapy or support to those in troubled situations.

The second argument the show makes during this episode surrounds the idea of personal responsibility. Jessica Jones is clearly portrayed as an abnormal hero. Throughout the show, Jessica struggles with what she is really responsible for. In other words, should she help anyone who asks for it? This question is asked multiple times, and in this episode particularly, the morality of personal responsibility is questioned when (*spoiler warning*) Jessica finds out Malcolm is actually working for Kilgrave as Jessica’s stalker. In addition to this twist, Jessica originally met Malcolm when she first encountered Kilgrave all those years ago and tried to save Malcolm from Kilgrave. Interestingly, Jessica continues to help Malcolm despite being betrayed completing the argument of personal responsibility. The show ultimately argues that help should be given without condition. This is clearly shown when Malcolm asks Jessica if humanity is worth saving, and this goes well with Jessica’s struggle with personal responsibility.

Image result for jessica jones and malcolm

Scene that shows the comical side of the relationship between Jessica and Malcolm

At the end, both these arguments support the one of the main overarching themes of the show: seeking community and help. Both these arguments show the importance of having a community or a friend who will help unconditionally. In the example with Malcolm, Jessica has no reason to help him especially with his betrayal. However, Jessica continues to help him even though she always acts like she doesn’t care about Malcolm. I believe this theme applies to the real-world very well. Often, mental illness and suicide often arise from the lack of community and the lack of help from others. The theme shown goes to show how important community and help is to our society today.



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