23 October 2007
Gender Depictions On Sitcoms
Sitcoms have been a very useful source for entertainment since their popularization in the 1950s but they also serve another purpose. They have been a major source of social commentary on current events and insights on gender roles. There has been a major change in societal attitude towards gender roles between 1950s and today. Each decade shows transformation of characters in sitcoms, mostly female characters. Sitcoms are exaggerated yet relevant indicators of change in gender roles in the American society.
The 1950s was host to a mixed bag of television shows in terms of portrayal of female characters, while the male characters had consistent dominant characteristics. Sitcoms in these decades had women usually playing stay at home mothers and nurturing the children. Mama, The Goldbergs, Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best are examples of shows in which the female characters are content with their roles in their household and embrace them happily. On the other hand shows like I love Lucy, I Married Joan, My Favorite Husband and Our Miss Brooks illustrate the ambitious women of the 50’s.
The 1960’s went on to explore the ambitious women, but by depicting them outside the realm of the traditional wife or daughter. That Girl was a sitcom centered on an aspiring actress who tries to succeed on her own in a big city.
Other shows, such as I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched, show female characters with magical powers trying to blend with the mortals. As women were paving way to a more independent character, the male characters were still stronger and dominant.
The 1970’s saw a rise in television shows depicting women as more independent than ever. The feminist movement in this decade is very much apparent in the premise of its sitcoms. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a breakthrough for female characters as it was the first time that a woman was...