Sitcom Analysis of the Gender Role

Gender roles are roles performed by representatives of both genders, but often gender roles are social constructs or products of the dominant culture which promote certain gender roles and gender-related biases and stereotypes. At the same time, media are the major tool of conveying gender roles to the audience. However, gender roles convey gender roles which do not necessarily match the actual situation in society. Mass media and art, such as literature, promoted the idea of patriarchal society and depicted gender roles based on traditionalist values which often put women into a disadvantageous position compared to men. As a result, gender roles of women were often bound to the family life and household, while men were traditionally depicted as bread-winners. As roles and positions of men and women change, mass media reflect those changes. At this point, it is possible to refer to Episode 10 of Season 4 of Still Standing, the sitcom that depicts the family life of Bill and Judy and their three children, while gender roles are absolutely clear. The sitcom shows that gender roles do persist because they are social constructs but the depiction of those roles is often hyperbolized and may be misleading for a part of the audience that perceives the messages of the sitcom non-critically, as is the case of Episode 10 of Season 4 of Still Standing.

The change of gender roles may be traced in jokes present in the episode. Jokes performed in the course of the episode reveal the difference between Judy, who sounds more reasonable and intelligent, and Bill, who sounds more simplistic and irresponsible. For example, it is possible to refer to the moment, when Bills sleeps on the couch and his daughters are mocking at him, whereas Judy enters and ‘restores the order’ by putting the end to any jokes from the part of children.  Judy is mocking at Bill herself. During their dinner with their friends, she is openly mocking at him and how inattentive he is. For example, she recalls the moment, when he has forgot about the keys in his pocket. She even makes a comparison of Bill and monkeys and monkeys look more intelligent and sly than Bill does. Instead, Bill and his friends are mocking at Judy and women because they cannot have fun but, instead, they are too serious and responsible. They do not live what Bill believes to be the real life that means that women cannot entertain and their responsibility and seriousness make women subjects to jokes from the part of the male characters of Still Standing. Along with traditional ways of depicting gender roles of men and women, the sitcom tends to reveal new gender roles that have changed under the impact of cultural and socioeconomic changes. Simmons and Rich (7) argue that sitcoms have changed the way of the depiction of gender roles, men and women since women are not depicted as childish characters, who need male protection, but, instead, they are often depicted as mother-like characters, who often control and suppress childish behavior of male characters. At this point, it is possible to refer to the case of the main characters of the sitcom Bill and Judy. Judy is the authoritative character. She has to mother and discipline Bill constantly, as he often fools around and behaves like a child. Such relations and gender roles prove the righteousness of Simmons and Rich’s assumptions.

The main characters of the sitcom performs different jobs with Bill focused rather on his job, while Judy is more concerned with her family rather than job. Judy is a housewife, who is focused on her family and household mainly, whereas Bill is a bread-winner, who dedicates his time to work and after the work he is just having a rest, with little contribution to the family or household chores. For example, her job is hardly mentioned during the episode, whereas Bill’s job is depicted in more details. Judy’s work apparently plays the secondary part in her life, while her family, her children and her husband are prior to her work. If necessary, she could quit her work to save her family. Bill is quite different. He works well. He is a hard working man, but he does it out of necessity because he has to work and provide for his family. However, his job is still an important part of his life, whereas his family life is secondary. His job is the place, where he works hard, whereas his family is the place, where he relaxes and just has fun. Bill seems to be another child Judy has to take care of. This is a new feature of feminist-driven culture which the sitcom mirrors through the change of gender roles. Instead of a childish role of women, who need protection, the sitcom depicts women as disciplining men as is the case of Judy and Bill. Bill is childish instead and behaves like a child, who needs discipline and control. Judy performs the role of a mother, who helps Bill to organize his life and live according to rules.

The sitcom also reveals different priorities men and women perform. Judy prioritizes educating and rising up her children and keeping their family and house well. For example, it is Judy who decides what to buy to feed the family, while Bill is just supposed to buy it as one of opening scenes of the episode shows. She is responsible, caring and reasonable. In stark contrast, Bill’s priority aside of his job is just having fun and enjoying his life. If there were no Judy and his family, his entire life would focus on the sheer entertainment, partying, beer drinking, and activities like that. Therefore, Judy’s priority is family and household, whereas Bill seems to do his best to enjoy his life rather than take any responsibility. In such a way, the sitcom reveals the change in gender roles and the enhancement of the position of women. A. Brott (4) identifies the similar shift of gender roles as media and contemporary writers, especially feminist ones, tend to depict women as more successful than men. They are often depicted as caring and more successful in their mother roles than men, who often fail to care. At this point, A. Brott (4) refers to the case of “Mother Goose and the Sly Fox,” “retold” by Chris Conover, where the mother Goose is depicted as a caring mother and successful entrepreneur, while the Sly Fox is depicted as negligent father, who fails to care for his kids and provide for the family. However, the similar role may be traced in Judy-Bill relations, where Judy is a caring mother of the family, who knows how to manage the family and take care of each family member, whereas Bill is irresponsible and cannot perform successfully even the easiest tasks, but, instead, he is just fooling around and looks for enjoyment after his workday.

Parenting is the role performed by Judy in Still Standing, while Bill sticks to the role of a ‘good cop’ in their parenting style. For example, Bill tries to protect children, when Judy attempts to discipline them. Judy also plays the main part in parenting. She is the mother, who dedicates a lot of her time to her children. She takes care of them. She pays a lot of attention to their education, their personal life and relationships within the family. She wants to be a good mother and friend to her children. However, she also has to take care of Bill as another child in their family. She knows where everything is in their house. She seems to know everything about everyone in their family and she is capable to foresee what any of their family members are going to do. She is wise, supportive, commanding and caring mother for all family members, including Bill.

Thus, Episode 10 of Season 4 of Still Standing reveals gender roles which give insight into changes that have taken place in the contemporary culture as women are depicted as caring and commanding, while men are depicted as childish and negligent that reveals the difference in gender roles, since men are careless and just enjoy their life, whereas women perform the role of mothers, who control everything, who are always reasonable and take care of others. The sitcom uses jokes to show changes of the role of women. Women are not inferior, childish characters that need care and protection from the part of men. Instead, they are excessively feministic and attempt to keep men under their control and take care of them, but, in such attempts, they still stick to their traditional role of a mother. The role of a mother is the priority for Judy while Bill just avoids house chores and care about children. One of the distinct trend in the depiction of gender roles in Still Standing is the trend to the depiction of woman as successful, caring and responsible , in contrast, to childish, irresponsible, and careless men. The depiction of men and women by the sitcom reveals the change in their priorities and jobs. Gender roles and the position of men and women in society have changed. The progress of feminism contributed to the enhancement of the position of women and elimination of gaps between men and women. The sitcom mirrors the change through the depiction of new gender roles performed by men and women.

Works Cited:

Brott, Armin A. “Not All Men Are Sly Foxes.” Newsweek 1 June 1992: 14-15. InfoTrac: Expanded Academic Index/Asap. Willow Canyon H.S. Media Center, Surprise. 25 June 1999 http://www.searchbank.com/searchbank/wchs.

Kennedy, X.J., et al. The Brief Bedford Reader. New York: Random House, 2015.

Simmons, J. and Rich, L.E.  Feminism Ain’t Funny: Woman as “Fun-Killer,” Mother as Monster in the American Sitcom, Advances in Journalism and Communication, 1(1-12), 2013, 1-12.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

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