Channeling Stereotypes Of Men & Women On TV

Can you imagine a sitcom called Fat Wife, where a hot husband comes home to a chubby/sloppy chick plopped in front of the TV? The cartoon at left, seen on Sociological Images, is satire:

It uses role reversal; just swap the wife for Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, or the guy from King Of Queens. The point is: Gender stereotypes persist on TV.


Fox Reality Channel is debuting a new show called Househusbands of Hollywood, which focuses on five stay-at-home men who run the house while their wives head to work. You'd think that sounds like an outside-the-box twist on the Real Housewives. Yes. And no.

One of the Househusbands, Grant Reynolds, husband of Good Day LA anchor Jillian Reynolds, says: "It's not about cattiness, it's about raising a family and doing the best you can with what you have." Get that? Women are catty; men are strong and serious about raising families.

Cosby Show actress Tempestt Bledsoe, who is dating former A Different World star Darryl M. Bell, was hesitant to do the show because they're not married, and says: "Reality usually is a lot of fighting, but it's nice to see a show that's lighthearted and good-spirited and you don't have to sit down and cringe every time you look at the screen." Because you know, those shows with the women? Cringe-worthy.

Of course, it's not all bad for women on TV: as the LA Times' Mary McNamara pointed out earlier this week "women get to do just about anything on TV."

They can chase down aliens ("Fringe"), converse with angels ("Saving Grace"), race through jungles and time continuums ("Lost"), catch serial killers while wearing hats and high heels ("The Closer") and play both sides of the legal field with the likes of William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden ("Damages).

But it's interesting that popular "reality" shows — Rock Of Love, Real Housewives — rely on a catty, confrontational stereotype, while smart, accomplished ladies (Damages, The Closer) remain fictional.

Satirizing The Sitcom [Sociological Images]
'Real Housewives' Formula Gets A Twist With 'Househusbands Of Hollywood' [NY Daily News]
Shrew Versus Shrewd [LA Times]


Watch this, please — it's got some great stuff about sitcom stereotypes, among other things.