English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: representation

Crazy Ex Girlfriend and the Jewish Problem

When I started watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I was extremely excited to see Rebecca Bunch’s character, not only because of the way the show was lauded for portraying her mental illness, and her hilarious musical numbers, but also because of the simple fact that she was Jewish. I was excited to see a single Jewish woman at the helm of a show, and I assumed her Judaism would be a real part of her character, not just played for laughs. I was expecting another Mrs. Maisel, who fabulously combined the humor of Jewish life with actual insights as to what it means to be a Jew. I thought that with Rachel Bloom writing and portraying the character, who once wrote a whole Chanukah album entitled “Suck it, Christmas!!” that Judaism would be an integral part of Rebecca. But unfortunately, I was wrong.

Rebecca’s Judaism is exactly the kind of Judaism I see in sitcom characters everywhere: Full of family stereotypes, only relevant as a joke, and, don’t you worry, she still celebrates Christmas. Her Judaism really only comes out when she’s dealing with her obsessive and controlling mother (read: Jewish Mother stereotype to a T), waging a legal battle against her New York nemesis (read: Jewish American Princess stereotypes), or talking about all the bagels she eats (which, to be fair, bagels are pretty great). Other than that, Judaism has absolutely no meaning in Rebecca’s life. She observes no holidays, takes part in a “California Christmas” with seasonal cheer, and has no connection to a Jewish community beyond her mother. In a word, it’s disappointing. 

Rebecca isn’t even an accurate depiction of most Jewish millennials. While many don’t attend synagogue on the regular, or ever, there is still a strong sense of community that drives young Jewish adults together and causes them to seek each other’s company. I know many Jews who were brought up with no religion, and yet strongly identify as Jewish and regularly attend non religious Jewish events. What makes Rebecca’s character truly sad to me is that she’s not accurate- she’s palatable.

When I say palatable, I mean specifically to Gentile audiences that have no idea of Judaism beyond Chanukah, the Holocaust, and a few odd jokes and stereotypes. Rebecca makes no jokes about being Jewish that run any danger of being incomprehensible to Gentiles. Her ethno-religious background is simply a font of jokes, as significant as any other small quirk.

I don’t know why, but it seems that Jewish writers, the ones that rightfully should be creating a diversity of Jewish characters, can only seem to write us in generalities calculated to appeal to anyone but us. 

“Do you mean to tell me you’re trading 8 nights of presents for just one? What the hell is wrong with you??”

Not Just a Housewife – Fresh off the Boat

Even though “Fresh off the Boat” is written about Eddie Huang’s life, I believe that his mother is actually the main character. Most of the show’s plots are centered around some conflict related to her, or about some fear of her. So for this gender analysis blog, let’s take a look at the real main character of “Fresh off the Boat” – Jessica Huang.

There isn’t too much of a gender spread on “Fresh off the Boat” – a majority of the main characters are male, except for Jessica and Louis’s mother, Grandma Huang. Jessica is a house-wife turned real estate agent, but don’t let that fool you. She is far from a typical TV housewife – she is the matriarch of the Huang family. The entire family (except for Grandma Huang) lives in fear of her, closely following the boundaries and rules that she has set. Jessica is also a very powerful and capable character, frequently shown as naturally good at many skills and a hard negotiator. In spite of her toughness, the show also demonstrates that she is capable of putting her tough love aside to show warmth to her family. Her decisions and actions are the primary fuel for the show’s plots. So “Fresh off the Boat” did a great job in representing Jessica as a powerful female, but what about everyone else?

In terms of gender, there is little active representation beyond Jessica. The show only portrays males and females, and outside of Jessica, a majority of females depicted are the rather ditsy women that share the neighborhood. However, “Fresh off the Boat” shines in terms of merging race and gender. It’s the first ABC show to depict an Asian family as its lead, and while it is a Western stereotype that Asian women are quiet and submissive, Fresh off the Boat went out of its way to ensure that it would not contribute to this image in any form. Its lead female is respected by everyone, both in and out of her family, and the only person she somewhat fears is her mother-in-law. Thus, even though “Fresh off the Boat doesn’t extend its arms into many other representational axes, it did a fantastic job in what it did choose to represent. It broke stereotypes and created one of the most iconic families to currently exist on ABC, and showed that being a housewife is anything but a sign of weakness or incapability.

It was very early in the show, but this scene is a perfect demonstration of how Jessica gets stuff done.

It Can’t Always be Black or White – or Can It?

Search Party has a pretty limited gender spread. Of the entire credited series cast so far, there are 69 men and 77 women. There is only a single actor on the show that does not identify as cis-gendered male or female. That actor is Jason Greene, who identifies as genderfluid. The character they play on the show is ambiguous in gender, but is only present in a single episode. Other than Greene’s character, however, the rest of the gender spread on the show is fairly black and white, varying only between cis-gendered male or female.

The show divides the agency of males and females relatively equally. All the characters on the show are relatively bad people. They’re self-interested and misled. Our lead, Dory Sief, is so absorbed in her fixation with Chantal that she recklessly bulldozes through her friends’ lives and drags them down the rabbit-hole with her. In fact, out of the four main cast members, the only one who seems to have unselfish intentions is Portia, but her decisions are still influenced by  a deep rooted desire to feel important. The main cast is evenly split between male and female (as long as we consider Julian, Keith, and Chantal as satellite characters), so agency in the show is also split fairly evenly. Additionally, many of the supporting characters also make decisions that influence the progression of the show. Some notable endeavors are the controversial articles that Julian publishes or Lorraine’s suicide.

Race, unlike gender in the show, is represented relatively well. The show does take place in New York City, after all. Of the five main cast members, two of them are explicitly not Caucasian: Dory is Iraqi-American and Julian is African American. Other characters in the show are also non-white, including Agnes Cho, Lorraine De Coss, and Keith’s ex-wife Deb. An interesting observation to make is that most of the notable minority characters also tend to be female.

The majority of the women on the show are presented as heterosexual. The one exception is the woman Dory meets with to discuss a job offer, who is so completely upset with her wife leaving her that it scares Dory away. There are far more gay men present in the show, however, particularly because Elliot himself is gay. Through love interests for Elliot, the show introduces several gay characters, particularly Elliot’s on-and-off boyfriend Marc.

Only Elliot can manage to look this fresh in rehab.

Mental illness is explored more deeply than disability in Search Party, as there aren’t really any characters that are explicitly physically disabled. On the other hand, several of the characters on the show experience varying mental illnesses. Lorraine is the greatest example of this, as it can be inferred she may be schizophrenic. Additionally, Elliot is a “self diagnosed narcissist” and compulsive liar. He has a psychotic break following his involvement in Keith’s murder, and admits himself to a rehabilitation clinic.

Research Question – The Working Woman

Question: How has the Career Representation of Women in the top Cable TV Shows by decade changed from the 1960s to Now?

Our question concerns how the representation of women’s career on television has changed by decade, starting from the 1960s. Our preliminary research shows that within this time period, the percentage of women working has drastically increased. In contrast, several women on television remain to be depicted as the traditional stay-at-home moms or in “feminine” jobs. However, no recent research has created a comprehensive data source of the careers of TV women. Our research will fill this gap in research by providing numerical figures on the depiction of employed women on TV, as well as an analysis of the career fields of these employed women. The subject of our research will be limited to a set number of the most popular cable television shows by decade.

The world we now live in now would be unrecognizable to someone from the 1960s. Everything has changed drastically, especially cultural and social norms. Throughout this period of time, television has also transformed from black and white to color and from a novelty to a part of our daily life. At the same time, feminism and evolved norms have contributed to increasing gender equality in the workforce. However, this change has not always been reflected in television.

Through our research, we hope to better understand how the change in cultural and social norms have affected the career representation of females on television. This research will provide an analysis of how effective the waves of feminism and social movements have been, allowing for the evaluation of their impact. Furthermore, this will also provide insight into the television industry’s responsiveness towards social and cultural changes, especially that in gender equality. Because television is designed for mass appeal with general audiences, images of women on television directly relate to how society feels women should be depicted. As a result, the depiction of women on television is a reflection of society’s view on working women. Therefore, our question is important because not only does it show how accurate TV depictions are compared to real life, but because it provides insight into the minds of the consumers of these shows.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Really Represents

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the most unique shows on television. Males and females are mostly represented equally and there is representation of other sexual orientations and of people with mental illness. The genders represented are male and female. The main characters are equally represented by both genders (Rebecca, Paula, Josh Chan, Greg, Darryl and Heather). However, males are represented more in the show because Josh Chan has many male friends and Rebecca does not have many friends other than Heather, Paula, and Valencia.


Male and female characters make decisions in the show, but more often than not, women, mainly Rebecca Bunch, make significant decisions. Rebecca has to decide who she’s going to make friends with, who she wants to be in a relationship with, and many other important decisions. She constantly has internal conflict about social situations and so these decisions are even more difficult for her to make. Josh Chan is a person who simply reacts. His personality doesn’t have much substance and he lets things happen rather than taking action. This matters because it gives the main male figure in the show less of an impact than the main female figure and lowers the significance of male decisions in the show.


Race and gender interact through the varying amount of racial representation in the show. Josh Chan is Filipino, Valencia is Latina, and Darryl claims to be Native American. Class and gender don’t usually interact because they’re all middle class or upper middle class. There is representation for other sexual orientations through Darryl. In the middle of season 1 Darryl comes out as bisexual by performing the song “Gettin’ Bi”. Shortly afterward he began dating White Josh. Mental illness is also represented through Rebecca Bunch. Rebecca has severe social anxiety and other undiagnosed mental illness that is very prevalent throughout the course of the show.

Overall, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does a great job representing both genders and multiple races, sexual orientations, and mental illnesses. The show gives many different perspectives and explores these perspectives thoroughly.

Gender Representation (or Lack of) in TV Advertising

Ember, Sydney. “For Women in Advertising, It’s Still a ‘Mad Men’ World.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 May 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/business/media/for-women-in-advertising-its-still-a-mad-men-world.html.

While my group’s research question is centered around gender representation in international television advertising, this article provides insight into the people behind the scenes who are responsible for the advertisements that broadcast on TV and includes testimonies of women who are starting out in the industry and of the scant few who have reached the executive level.  Sexism continues to exist very prominently in the advertising industry, which has its influences on the gender representation in advertisement.  These advertisements reflect their creators, which are usually white men.  While there have been some improvements over the years in the industry, the article ultimately ends less optimistically, noting that there is still a lack of collective action taken to correct gender bias or even completely address it because of how deeply entrenched and aggravating the issue is in the advertising industry.  The lack of gender representation in the advertising industry translates to the lack of gender representation in the actual advertisements because of the lack of female voice in the process and development of the advertisements.


Peer reviewed sources:

Luyt, Russell. “Representation of Gender in South African Television Advertising: A Content Analysis.” Sex Roles, vol. 65, no. 5-6, 2011, pp. 356-370. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/880032319?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0027-0.

Luyt uses data from the study to support the hypothesis that there would be differences in gender portrayals in South African television advertisements that reflect the traditional societal roles.  South Africa provides an interesting environment for the study because of its long-standing racial inequalities that intersect with other social constructs, such as gender.  Luyt found that males were presented as dominant and the primary focus, while females were subordinate and often sexualized.  However, the author also points out that the data and current trends point to a gradual shift in the status quo that would require additional research.  Some results I found interesting were that females in the advertisements were often young adults, while males were often on the older side.  In addition, in comparison to males, females were more often portrayed as middle or upper class, as well as white.  The article presents a strong, evidence-based argument about the gender inequalities present in South African television advertising that possibly contributes to the preservation of societal norms about gender roles.  As a result, the article ties in nicely with our research question regarding gender representation in international television advertisements, both in comparison to each other and to the United States.


Michelle, Carolyn. “Co-Constructions of Gender and Ethnicity in New Zealand Television Advertising.” Sex Roles, vol. 66, no. 1-2, 2012, pp. 21-37. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/912293673?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0067-5.

This source presents information about the stereotypes in New Zealand television advertising regarding both gender and ethnicity.  One of the reasons I chose this paper was because of the intersectionality it presents with gender and ethnicity in New Zealand television advertisements.  Much like most other countries, New Zealand has its share of ethnic conflict and diversity.  Through the study, Michelle presents evidence that white people dominate advertisements and are often overrepresented, with gender affecting the type of advertisement, fitting with stereotypes about traditional societal roles.  While Maori/Pasifika men were stereotyped as athletes and sales workers, Maori/Pasifika women and Asians overall lacked representation in these primetime television advertisements.  While the study had some hypotheses supported, such as women being underrepresented as main product representatives, the data shows that overall gender and ethnic stereotypes remain prevalent in New Zealand television advertising.  The results from the study indicate how stereotypes continue to reflect traditional social hierarchies in New Zealand.


Mwangi, Mary W. “Gender Roles Portrayed in Kenyan Television Commercials.” Sex Roles, vol. 34, no. 3, 1996, pp. 205. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1308098639?accountid=11107.

This paper has an interesting departure from previous results with there being roughly equal numbers of women and men as main characters in television advertisements, as well as equal numbers of women and men depicted with occupations.  These characteristics are generally seen with the television advertisements of more developed countries, which provides a unique comparison with other African countries and with other countries that are culturally and politically different as well.  However, the advertisements still displayed confined, traditional gender roles for men and women.  Once again, women are more likely to voice-over advertisements for household products and are presented as more passive.  Women were also confined to four choices for jobs that reflect the traditional and ideal occupations for educated Kenyan women and tend to have an absence of men in these occupations.  As mentioned before, these results reflect those of developed countries in which television advertisements have increased their number of women as main characters but still largely confine them to traditional gender roles.  As with other studies in this annotated bibliography, the author stresses the importance of advertising, especially on television, in the formation and perpetuation of stereotypes and barriers to gender equality.


Nassif, Atif, and Barrie Gunter. “Gender Representation in Television Advertisements in Britain and Saudi Arabia.” Sex Roles, vol. 58, no. 11-12, 2008, pp. 752-760. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225368430?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9394-6.

This paper covers a comparison of gender representation in television advertisements from Britain and Saudi Arabia.  This study fits well with our research topic because of the intercontinental comparison of two countries that vary vastly in political climate, social norms, media freedom, etc.  A trend with the studies is that women in these television advertisements are often younger and generally portrayed in domestic roles or related to household items.  These stereotypes are seen more prominently in Saudi Arabia’s television advertisements, although they are still present in British advertisements to a smaller degree.  As with Kenya, there was not a significant difference in the proportion of lead roles held by men versus women across both countries, but stereotypes cropped up when it came to roles, such as occupation, as well as the type of product being advertised.  These differences are more evident in Saudi Arabia’s advertising, partly because of the male-dominated society in which women are seen as in need of guardianship.


Nelson, Michelle R., and Hye-Jin Paek. “Cross-Cultural Differences in Sexual Advertising Content in a Transnational Women’s Magazine.” Sex Roles, vol. 53, no. 5-6, 2005, pp. 371-383. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225366068?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-6760-5.

While this article covers differences in female representation in Cosmopolitan magazines across countries instead of differences in television advertising, the study provides interesting data about the role that culture and politics play in the representation of women in media.  The study covers seven countries, Thailand, China, Brazil, U.S., India, Korea, and France, that range in their political culture and social norms, which influences the representation of women, especially their sexuality.  The East Asian countries, China and Korea, had the lowest percentage of nudity, likely reflecting traditional Confucian values, while Thai and French advertisements had the most.  The results for Thailand were a surprise for the researchers because of the authoritarian regime and prominence of religion, though the openness of Buddhism toward feminine sexuality, such as including prostitutes, likely contributes to the unexpected results.  Western models featured in magazines from the other countries were also generally portrayed with more sexual imagery, while domestic models were more likely to be associated with products more closely related to the domestic sphere, such as household products.  With Cosmopolitan being a Western-based magazine that has now spread because of globalization and the subject of the study, there can be conclusions drawn about how these different variables are interacting in this world that is becoming increasingly smaller because of these interconnections among countries that lead to homogenization while also enforcing cultural differences.

Gender Representation in Children’s Television (Annotated Bibliography)


Coyne, Sarah M., et al. “It’s a Bird! it’s a Plane! it’s a Gender Stereotype!: Longitudinal Associations between Superhero Viewing and Gender Stereotyped Play.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 9-10, 2014, pp. 416-430. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1531890817?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0374-8.

This longitudinal study explores the gender stereotype of masculinity. It had 134 mothers of pre-school children report information over several years. The study takes into account the exposure of children to superheros (television and movies) and their amount of male-stereotyped play and weapon play that results from it. Boys are more likely to mimic the male-stereotyped and weapon play because they can relate to the superheroes. Since the superheroes are mostly boys or geared towards boys, young boys see them as a role model. But, girls who watched high levels of superheros were not more likely to use male-stereotyped play or weapon play than girls that didn’t watch as much because they can not relate to the shows and movies as much as boys can. This source is valuable because it is longitudinal so it portrays the effect on children viewing of these hypermasculine shows. It also details the social psychology behind imitating shows and why boys and girls react differently when they watch the same thing. Also, the comparison of boys to girls is extremely effective in this source.



England, Dawn E., Lara Descartes, and Melissa Collier-meek. “Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses.” Sex Roles, vol. 64, no. 7-8, 2011, pp. 555-567. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/857999236?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9930-7.

This article details how Disney princess movies have trended towards more egalitarian gender roles. In the study, they determined the frequency that princes displayed certain qualities and how often the princesses displayed the qualities. For example, some of the qualities are helpful, sensitive, curious, assertive and athletic. The rise of feminism affected their tactics because then princes began showing emotions and princesses became more assertive, but the plots often rely on the princess getting the man in the end. For example, while Pocahontas and Mulan deal with diplomacy and war, in the end they are paired off with their princes. The value of this article comes from the contrast from the 1930s to modern day and how Disney employs traditional gender roles. The paper suggests provocative ideas, but doesn’t necessarily have empirical evidence because the display of kindness (or any other trait) is vague and subjective. It overall details how it is hard for Disney to break from gender stereotypes, while still pleasing their consumers.



García-Muñoz, Núria and Maddalena Fedele. “The Teen Series and the Young Target. Gender Stereotypes in Television Fiction Targeted to Teenagers.” Observatorio (OBS*), vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 215-226. EBSCOhost, prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=82233901&site=ehost-live.

This article focuses on television for teenagers. It increases the information about the images of young people that are portrayed in teen television.The conclusions come from analyzing the social and physical descriptions, personality traits, and role in the plot of each character. The results are more than just which qualities boy characters or girl characters have, it is much more in depth. It introduces the idea that older people are underrepresented on television. Also, that almost all homosexual characters display traditional feminine qualities, which is based purely on stereotypes and not reality. This article is valuable because is important to know what messages teen shows promote because the teen years are when the identity is formed and teens should not have to be limited by stereotypes. While the article displays how powerful media is and the need for less stereotypes in television, it is a very limited study focusing on few shows and specific characters. It is overall easy to read, but some conclusions may not have enough evidence to be significant.



Gerding, Ashton, and Nancy Signorielli. “Gender Roles in Tween Television Programming: A Content Analysis of Two Genres.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 1-2, 2014, pp. 43-56. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1477375870?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-013-0330-z.

This is a content analysis of gender roles in teen television shows. The study used 49 episodes from 40 different shows that can be distinctly identified as either teen scene (geared towards girls) or action-adventure (geared towards boys). The results are displayed in percentage of male and female characters in both show categories that are attractive, show bravery/rescue, and use technical skill. Overall the analysis details how females were more likely to be attractive , while the males were considered more unattractive. Women have to be beautiful to be watched, but men can rely on personality alone in shows was one of the conclusions. Also, the analysis dissects how the ratio of males to females in the shows are 2:1, thus continuing the culture that men/boys are more important. The value of this source is that it takes into account television shows for girls and boys. Overall the focus is on teen television’s misrepresentation of females and it may not disclose how men are misrepresented on television shows, so it is overall more biased than some other articles.



Steyer, Isabella. “Gender Representations in Children’s Media and Their Influence.” Campus — Wide Information Systems, Mar. 2014, pp. 171-180. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1108/CWIS-11-2013-0065.

This article details the negative influence sexist representations in media (including television) have on children’s development. In the era of “equal rights”, it is still common to see women underrepresented in television and to see them performing traditional roles. This scholar article argues that society is far from equal, but change starts with the next generation. Children who are exposed to non-traditional gender representation have more positive development, but this is not common. The article explains in depth how men outnumber women in children’s television. For example, the ratio of men to women is 2.6:1  in the 101 G-rated films taken into account. Not only are do girls see less of their gender, but boys are developmentally stunted. Females are often more attractive and intelligent than their male counterparts, which lowers boy’s self-esteem. Also, women are portrayed more as moms, while older men are seen more as bachelors, therefore a lot of television lacks positive male role models. The value of this article comes from its mixture of conceptual ideas with statistical evidence. It also gives equal thought to all children’s development, not just specifically girls or boys. It is worth reading because a lot of themes and stereotypes go undetected in children’s television shows and these just further promote inequality, but they are sometimes hard to point out because sexist representations are so deeply connected to our culture.


Thompson, Teresa L., and Eugenia Zerbinos. “Television Cartoons: Do Children Notice it’s a Boy’s World?” Sex Roles, vol. 37, no. 5, 1997, pp. 415-432. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225382192?accountid=11107.

This article explores a study of how 89 children perceive male and female cartoon characters differently. The article provides background in behavioral psychology and typical gender stereotypes in television including the job status, knowledge, and representation of characters. It reports that children noticed gender-stereotypical behaviors in cartoon characters including the stereotypical representation that boys are violent and active, while girls are more domestic and boy-obsessed. Also majority of the kids chose traditional occupations for their own futures. This is worth reading because the study results take into account factors like age and Mother’s working status, making it more reliable. It is also important because it explains in detail that kids are exposed to television at a young age and do not always separate the fantasy of cartoons from reality. The value comes mostly from the empirical evidence that supports that gender stereotyping begins at a young age and that it can be connected specifically to television because especially in the Humanities field there is not always evidence to support arguments.

Career Representation in TV Over Time (Bibliography)!

Looks like indentations aren’t working! Oh well…

Source 1 (Peer Reviewed):

Atkin, David J., Jay Moorman, and Carolyn A. Lin. “Ready for Prime Time: Network Series Devoted to Working Women in the 1980s.” Sex Roles, vol. 25, no.11-12, 1991, pp. 677-684.  Springer Open Choice, https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF00289571.pdf

This research paper contains the findings of an analysis of shows from the 1980s, a period recognized for a large increase in the depiction of the “working woman.” The study focuses solely on shows where the lead is an employed woman, including “Roseanne,” and “Murphy Brown.” The study reveals certain interesting findings, such as that most employed women characters were also not depicted as married, or that most working women were still under the direct authority of a male executive. The ending analysis also attributes this boost in working women, not to the progressiveness of the networks, but rather the need for networks to compete with one another after the initial success of certain women-centered shows from the late 1970s. In our research, the data we collect should reflect this boost in employed women characters. Thus, this source is valuable because it provides an explanation for this influx, and we will be able to see if this trend persisted to the same degree in later decades.


Source 2:

Dixon-Smith, Matilda. “Why It’s Still Revolutionary To Watch Women Work On TV.” Junkee, 29 July 2017, http://junkee.com/tv-women-working-shows/114239.

This article by Junkee Media elaborates on the current working women of today’s television. It also describes some of the female characters and shows that are regarded as milestones in the pure representation of “the career woman,” which broke the previous mold of women being caretakers or constantly pursuing love interests. The piece also discusses setbacks in this progress of representation, which surprisingly includes shows with a majority female cast. Lastly, the article discusses the importance of proper representation of “the career woman” on television, as it influences how real working women are perceived and acted upon by society. This paper will be valuable to our research because it justifies the importance of our topic and why our research is necessary for discussion. It will also be interesting to see if the shows that are considered milestones for representation appear in our list of popular shows to analyze. This will indicate if they were widely accepted by society or not.


Source 3 (Peer Reviewed):

Dozier, David, Nora Horan, and Martha M. Lauzen. “Constructing Gender Stereotypes Through Social Roles in Prime-Time Television” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, vol. 52, no. 2, 2008, pp. 200-212. Taylor & Francis Online, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08838150801991971, doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/08838150801991971.

This paper analyzes the varying nature of roles of characters of popular recent primetime television shows between 2005 and 2006. In particular, the research seeks to determine the relationship between gender and the type of role played: “interpersonal” or “work-related.” The study found that interpersonal roles (those involving relationships or care) were typically played by men, while work roles are dominated by men, thus perpetuating the long-standing stereotype set by past years. However, the study also found that shows with more women writers reduce the gap by having a more equal proportion of men and women playing interpersonal roles. In contrast, shows with all men writers feature a more equal proportion of men and women playing work roles. This study will be important to understand influences on the data we collect related to women employment, as this study shows that the presence of employed women characters can be affected by the number of male writers for the show.


Source 4:

Lauzen, Martha M. “Boxed In 2017-18: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in Television.” San Diego State University, Sep 2018, https://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2017-18_Boxed_In_Report.pdf.

This research paper from San Diego State University is a large list of findings that resulted from an analysis of over two decades worth of prime-time television. The paper covers nearly every aspect of women’s representation in television, ranging from employment in the show’s production to on-screen appearances. The paper even distinguishes findings between various sources of television, such as broadcast TV, cable, and streaming. The paper is valuable because it presents information in a very easy to read format, making it easy to see how women’s representation in television has changed. The findings also contain highly relevant findings regarding the presence of employed women in television in comparison to men. Though the paper does not get too specific, it provides a good general indication of the current presence of employed women versus their male counterparts. The most promising aspect of this paper is that it is a very recent source, published in September 2018. This means that the data contained is the most accurate out of all the sources thus far.

Source 5 (Peer Reviewed):

Olson, Beth, and William Douglas. “The Family on Television: Evaluation of Gender Roles in Situation Comedy.” Sex Roles, vol. 36, no. 5, 1997, pp. 409-427. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225376065?accountid=11107.

This research paper is a statistical analysis of the themes that appeared in popular family-centric television, and the character tropes that appeared along with those themes. The paper also changes how these themes and character tropes evolved over time (starting from the debut of popular television in the 1950s), explaining the introduction of some new ideas and the descent of once popular themes. This source is valuable to our research because it is the only one to focus solely on family shows. This is critical, given that women characters have often been depicted in the context of being a family caregiver over being employed. The research also assesses the degree to which audiences considered the female character to be equivalent in terms of gender roles. The study found that newer (note that shows considered “newer” were aired in the early 1990s) demonstrated higher levels of equality. This could be another interesting parameter to measure in our research.


Source 6 (Peer Reviewed):

Stout, Jane G., Victoria A. Grunberg, and Tiffany A. Ito. “Gender Roles and Stereotypes about Science Careers Help Explain Women and Men’s Science Pursuits.” Sex Roles, vol. 75, no. 9-10, 2016, pp. 490-499. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1840619357?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0647-5.

This research study examines the relationship between the stereotypes associated with genders and STEM careers, and how they relate to real-world participation in STEM careers. Most of the research centers on the overwhelming majority of men with a formal STEM education in comparison to women, but it does indicate some increase in women participation in recent years. The study focuses mostly on genders but also factors in minority participation/stereotypes. The paper also addresses the source of the stereotypes that cause this real-life disparity, stating that a large contributing factor is the media’s depiction of people in STEM career fields. Therefore, this source will be useful in understanding the low percentage of female television characters with careers in STEM fields, which has almost always been depicted as being dominated by men. This also emphasizes an important aspect of our research topic: whether media influences reality, the opposite, or if there is a cyclical influence.

the story about a little guy that lives in a blue world

The first episode of Fresh off the Boat is about as provocative as one can get when it comes to social issues for POC and immigrant families in the US. The writers of this show certainly aren’t scared to put their opinions and experiences out there, I mean Eddie Huang even named the main protagonist after himself. I thought Arvin’s commentary about the irony of the title was interesting too, essentially remarking that the family isn’t really fresh off the boat (from China or anywhere), but really from D.C., a markedly American town… and by saying ‘American’, let’s be perfectly clear that I mean all kinds of Americans. Chinatown very much being included. For that reason, I felt that Arvin’s observation shone a riveting spotlight on the theme of the storyline: that all people, background and skin color aside, are equal, but are treated as if they aren’t.

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uh oh…racism? *sips tea*

Personally, I enjoy the way that Eddie Huang brings us this theme. He doesn’t do so in a condescending or stark manner, but rather uses comedy, like Eddie’s quirky obsession with Nas, or the use of slang by the stereotypical ~cringy~ dad, plus a very stereotypical accent as the cherry on top. Because this theme is so provocative, especially in today’s political climate, the comic relief more effectively communicates Huang’s side of the story. As Eddie says as he’s preaching his life plan to his parents at the dinner table, he’s taking “a seat at the table” in a conversation far larger than himself or the show. By representing this Chinese American family as the focus of the story, and really by daring to tell their side of the story, Huang not only communicates the theme but tells it through a lens of respect and empathy which makes his message more tender and approachable.

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and so is this theme, @Eddie

If we’re really honest, we all know people get treated differently, whether you lie on the side of privilege or not so much so. Overall, I have already really attached to the characters. I enjoy them. And I enjoy their story. The one with less privilege, the real one, the awkwardness, and the struggle. This theme, so clear yet so delicately presented, is still very much present and poignant in Fresh off the Boat. And so far, I’m diggin’ it.

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i <3 fotb

Works Cited:

Huang, Edwyn. “Fresh off the Boat.” Season 1, episode 1, Hulu, 2015.

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