Essay oppression in television

Submitted By ecurran95
Words: 1426
Pages: 6

Oppression is present in almost every aspect of daily life. In television, this is a common occurrence, with many references towards racism, sexism, heterosexism, and many other forms of oppression in various TV shows. This happens in comedy shows most commonly, where the sometimes offensive references and stereotypes are intended to be funny. The television show 2 Broke Girls, is a good example of the oppression found in TV. The show, which airs on CBS, follows two women who are in their twenties. One comes from a working class background, the other from a wealthy family, who lost all her money when her father was caught operating a Ponzi scheme, making both of them ‘broke girls’. They both are working as waitresses in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with the hopes of owning a cupcake shop. The show’s raunchy comedy and sarcasm is geared towards an audience of women in their twenties, who are going through similar struggles and have seemed to be desensitized to the stereotypical comments and jokes made about the women in the show. The form of oppression that are most prevalent in the episode “And The Temporary Distraction” are heterosexism, racism and sexism. The show’s characters are mainly part of minority groups. The two protagonists are two white woman, with supporting characters being an Asian man, and a white man, and guest characters being a lesbian woman, African American woman and a white man, along with others. Of the characters who were introduced in the episode and had a role in the oppression, there were 2 white women, an African American woman, a lesbian woman, an Asian man, and 2 white men.
I find it interesting that all of the characters that are focused on are apart of minority groups. In just one short episode, a hefty handful of –isms were touched upon and this is not done accidentally. The show purposefully writes in offensive jokes for the shock value, to make it seem funny, and to make sure that no one feels singled out, they cover everything. The first stereotype observed was with the lesbian woman. Right off the bat the show opens with a comment about a lesbian woman who comes into the diner. Han, the diner’s owner, makes a comment on how pretty she is, but soon questions her gender, asking if she is a boy and saying that “she looks like a pretty boy.” This can be connected to the Cycle of Socialization (Harro, 2010) and how Han was socialized as a child. Like almost every person, Han was socialized with genders in mind. He had ideas of what a boy and a girl should look like, which is learned in the First Socialization part of the Cycle. This results in uncertainty when confronted with a situation were someone doesn’t dress in the clothing associated with their gender.
The stereotypes quickly shifts and is then focused on Han. Max comments on Han’s own appearance, referencing his small stature and effeminate manner, which also references his race, and the fact that Asian men are usually referred to as less masculine in their appearance. This refers to Levels and Types of Oppression (Hardiman, Jackson, Griffin, 2010). When Han’s appearance is referred to, it is always to point out how awkward he looks. The Levels and Types on a societal level takes into account society’s norms, patterns and values and in this case, societies value and idea of beauty. Han’s appearance is the running joke because he is not what society has deemed “attractive”. His race has given him the appearance of being less masculine, and therefore, appearing to be more gay. People are socialized to see this as normal, when it is actually a form of oppression and is focusing in on one’s race and appearance.
The oppression branches out to sexism as well. The way the main characters are depicted are very stereotypical, by itself. Caroline is more emotional. She cares about her appearance and she is always well put together, feeding the stereotype that women are high maintenance and emotionally driven. Max on the other hand is on the