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Gender Portrayal and Prime Time Comedy - Essay Example

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Despite assertions to the contrary, it is fair to argue that men and women are portrayed differently on television. This is not intended to ascribe any insidious motive but simply to point out that there are some rather predictable characteristics that are assigned to actors depending on their gender…
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Gender Portrayal and Prime Time Comedy

Download file to see previous pages... The proposed portrayal, therefore, was intended to be a young, highly educated attorney whom happened to be female. The cast, however, was broad in terms of characterization and included a number of clearly developed male and female characters. The majority of these characters were attorneys at Ally's law firm. Superficially, at least, the stage appears set for a comedy devoid of gender stereotypes. Ally is a successful attorney and her best friend is a man. She wears pants and is financially independent. A careful examination of the scripts, however, reveals that gender stereotypes remain pervasive even in a prime time television program purporting to be offering a stereotype-free program.
I don't believe in equal parenting, and if we have kids I expect you to quit work and while I certainly don't think of you only as a sexual object, I do think of you as someone who should fulfill my sexual needs, and if you put on a hundred pounds, I'd have a big problem there too." (quoted in Lemaster: 2)
The gender portrayal is hardly subtle; to be sure, it is a direct statement by a main character to the effect that men should work and women should take care of the home after having children. Billy doesn't believe in equality, he characterizes his girlfriend's duties as including the satisfaction of his sexual needs, and he warns her against gaining weight. So many stereotypes are packed into this simple portion of the television script. The woman must take care of the home, she must be available to satisfy the male's sexual needs, and she must place her appearance at a high level or she will risk losing the man. One can hardly conceive of dialogue which so directly contradicts the aforementioned goal of presenting a modern comedy devoid of stereotypes.
The women seem to indulge the men rather than becoming offended or angry; to be sure, when confronted with actions and comments that would most certainly trigger sexual harassment lawsuits in the real world, these female characters instead merely play along. This playing along with the male characters seems to reinforce the stereotypes rather than challenging them or breaking them down. An illustrative portion of dialogue, from Episode 3, involves two of Ally's female colleagues interviewing a male applicant for an entry-level position:
Renee: "Would you mind removing you shirt"
Male interviewee: "I beg your pardon"
Renee: "I just want to see your chest, and your stomach."
Male interviewee: "Is that legal"
Whipper: "It's illegal to require it, and of course we couldn't do that. Now, basically, the business of law is all about getting clients, now we plan to use our sensuality to do that. Renee and I will provide a little eye candy for the men."
Renne: "It would be rude not to have something for the women."
Whipper: "Absolutely." (quoted in Lemaster: 4).

This dialogue is ironic; it is ironic because the women are at the same time mocking the behavior of their male colleagues and them justifying the use of their sexuality to gain clients. There is no anger or resentment. They may express their views more subtly than did Billy previously, but they see ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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