Gender Roles On Reality TV

This post was written by a student in Susan Schuyler’s Narrative, Rhetoric, and Identity class at Stanford University. Each student in this class will complete a research-based argument related to the course topic.

For my research project, I have decided to take a closer look at gender roles and reality TV; in particular, I plan to study the show The Bachelorette. This will let me explore not only concepts of identity but also narrative strategies on reality TV. Initially, I plan to examine how gender roles are typically portrayed on reality TV as a whole; many shows have similar characters (such as a gay guy, a crybaby, a catty girl, etc.), and present females and males in specific manners that are seen over and over again. I may also investigate how these gender stereotypes affect society as a whole, or how society’s stereotypes have effect who is cast in these shows.

I also plan to compare the show to its predecessor, The Bachelor, to explore the effect of reversing the gender of the title character. I think that this show reflects the time since a generation ago, women were less likely to propose. I haven’t finished researching yet, but I still hope to find a few different perspectives on this issue of feminism and reality TV.

Megan Schwarz (Stanford University)

This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-CCNY, Fall 2010: Humanities, Identity, and Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Gender Roles On Reality TV

  1. ccrvisitor says:

    I think the topic you have chosen is very interesting and will allow for you to explore the crazy world that is reality television. The Bachelorette and The Bachelor are good examples of how gender stereotypes are blown out of proportion for the pure entertainment of the viewers and the pursuit of higher viewer ratings. With access to an enormous budget and the freedom to cast whomever they like, the producers of shows like this are able to manipulate the cast’s identities as well as how the rest of the world views these people. This in turn provides for drama, conflict, and a guilty pleasure for everyone who tunes into reality shows in general. Good luck!

  2. ccrvisitor says:

    Choosing to use Reality TV is a good idea, taking into consideration the society we currently live in where drama’s and family sitcoms that could show lessons seem to be replaced by such shows that are at the mercy of the producers. Being so these shows now form a large part of how women are portrayed. It should be good to include how they are being portrayed and maybe how some of the women are in their real life post their experience on reality tv.

  3. HectorB says:

    I personally think many of your finding will turn out to be more or less what you expect. I do however, hope you learn something new but don’t let your anticipations and bias cloud your thinking. Remember to “make the natural strange,” meaning you should take a step back and really evaluate and think of all the different variables before arriving to any conclusion. Also, it might help imagining yourself being apart of the production of these types of shows. Think the role of money plays into all this.

  4. Jenna says:

    I think that studying the gender roles on the bachelor/bachelorette will be very interesting because it will show any double standards that may exist between the sexes.

  5. Katie R says:

    I would also investigate in why those identities are typically portrayed in that manner. Why does our society like watching crybabies, gay guys ect. I am also very interested in how these shows pick who will be in them and again how their role will obtain the audiences attention. Lastly, I think comparing the shows will help show how in different situations when the power is switched from the male to the female changes the typical stereotypes of each gender.

  6. Emily R says:

    I think that The Bachelorette is a good idea. It shows the gender roles of both females and males; how society views the dynamic of these relationships is an indicator of how both males interact on the Bachelor and how females act on the Bachelorette.

  7. Julie Falise says:

    The idea of gender roles swapping with The Bachelorette is interesting to think about, because even in just real mainstream lives today the show isn’t the “norm”. Women usually never propose to their boyfriend, it’s usually seen as the man’s direction. I think it would be even more interesting for ABC to come out with a gay version of the show, because this would sort of change the “gender roles” a bit.. now this is hardly a new show being pitched to the directors of the network, but it is interesting to think about, what would the show feature? Would it be all women or men with beautiful perfect bodies? Because the new target audience isn’t one who is wishing they could be with the winner, or envious of the guy who got the hot chick.

  8. Roy says:

    The Bachelorette is a very nice way to see how the roles are dynamic. The producers of the show, select the full dynamic personalities that represents what is in today’s society. The gender differences are much more dramastic than the previous generations’. In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see the female being the bread winner and the male staying at home to take care of the kids and other things. Also, in most families, both of the parents work to support the family unit. I think selecting this show, is a must.

  9. Chuck says:

    I believe the topic that you have chosen is the perfect one to use because the two shows are specific in the genders they are portraying. You could even corner certain situations that go on in both shows. For example, how the females act on the Bachelor compared to the females on Bachelorette, and vice versa. It would be very interesting to see what you come up with.

  10. Kinsey S. says:

    I think that your topic, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is a good one. You can also observe how society looks at both sides and reacts to each show to help you with your research. Both shows reveal a deeper meaning into the idea of gender roles and you will be able to find a plethora or information.

  11. Laiela A says:

    I believe the way you are going about exploring the topic of Gender Roles on Reality TV is a interesting way. I think how gender roles are typically portrayed on reality TV are a good indication of society today. Also, stereotypes are always highlighted on TV, so if you are trying to explore the affects on society, you will do well!

  12. Darcy E says:

    I think your topic is very interesting. It will be interesting to see how you interpret the gender role stereotypes that are usually tied into shows like the Bachelorette and the Bachelor. Although they do display very typical roles, both genders are displayed differently on both shows and it will be interesting to see what you come up with for that. This show is a great example to explain why people are stereotyped for certain roles because they are specifically chosen for these roles. This is a great show to choose for this topic

  13. Katie Z says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your analysis of your topic; it is quite interesting to view the different roles people play in reality television shows. Are the viewers only really interested if the certain stereotypical roles are fulfilled, such as the ones you described? I would try to examine whether or not certain roles have certain higher rankings than others; does this reflect how us as a society treat one another? Does it make us strive to be more like the people we see in the reality television shows? I believe that using “The Bachelor” will be interesting, especially if young people actually take the advice or make the same actions as the people involved with the show.

  14. Casey R says:

    I am excited to see your research on The Bachelorette. I think it will not only show the gender roles of males vs. females in reality TV, but also the dynamics of relationships on TV vs. reality. Hearing of the fail rate of the relationships in reality of those that were matched on the show, it shows there is a definite falsity to their relationship. I think it will be interesting to see your analysis on how women and men are portrayed and how they act on TV. I feel that over time reality TV has become a release for viewers in that it no longer accurately portrays people. There is also an abundance of exaggerated performance to attract viewers and gain ratings. Good luck!

  15. Emily Escobedo says:

    I believe this is a great idea for a research project, and will be very fun for you as well as a learning experience. I too believe that gender roles and stereotypes play a large role in both society and reality tv as a whole. Although I don’t usually watch them, the bachelorette and the bachelor are excellent choices in trying to depict and describe gender roles and how a specific gender would act in certain situations. I think your predictions will be very close to the real sinarios. I think you should also attempt to describe why men and women feel they have to follow these gender stereotypes rather than branch out and be themselves on their own. Good luck! Can’t wait to review your findings!!

  16. AM says:

    Your investigation is very interesting, and what a great idea it is to compare the portrayal of gender roles on The Bachelor and The Bachlorette. Sexual competition at its finest. But I would also be interested in how authentic the acting is and what kind of behavior the shows promote or discourage. In real life, would fifteen different men/women be competing for one bachelor/bachlorette? If it is not realistic, then what is the message of the show? That is the way we should be behaving around people of the same gender as us? I hope that you will answer these questions in your investigation. Good luck!

  17. Steven Rigby says:

    I think the Bachelor is the perfect show to study and examine gender roles in society. I think shows like the Bachelor Bachelorlette portrays how a huge part of society involves guys and girls fighting or competing for a significant other. They will try and out do each other with their physical appearance and try to be more masculine or feminine than the other person, just to win over a girl or guy. Reality shows like these are great to examine how genders have certain roles and stereotypes are a huge part of American society.

  18. Steven Rigby says:

    I think the Bachelor is the perfect show to study and examine gender roles in society. I think shows like the Bachelor and Bachelorlette portray how a huge part of society involves guys and girls fighting or competing for a significant other. They will try and out do each other with their physical appearance and try to be more masculine or feminine than the other person, just to win over a girl or guy. Reality shows like these are great to examine how genders have certain roles and how gender stereotypes are a huge part of American society.

  19. Daniel W. says:

    Focusing down on the bachelor and the bachelorette seems like a great idea to me. Both shows are widely watched and loved but I do see the underlying gender roles that are pushed onto the viewers that you bring up. I feel like it will be very interesting when people realize how stereotypical their favorite shows are and how that affects them. Seems like a good eye opener to me.

  20. Ashley says:

    I think that this is a great concept for her to focus on a show because along with The Bachelorette there is also The Bachelor is this is great for comparing gender roles between males and females. I know a lot of people that watch these shows so that would mean that a lot of people would be able to connect with the shows and the stereotypes that are expecting of both males and females and how this defines American society. Examining these shows is really going to show how we view sexual competition between both genders.

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