Five Decades and Three Hundred Sitcoms about Class and Gender by Richard Butsch

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Richard Butsch’s essay “Five Decades and Three Hundred Sitcoms about Class and Gender” had me thinking about what we are watching on television. He brought up amazing points saying that characters depicting working class men are shown to be dumb, irresponsible, messy, and unreliable (Butsch, 2005, p. 459). Those in the middle class are shown as sensible, intelligent, and mature. One great example that comes to mind is the show Yes Dear. It has two sets of parents living together because one of them cannot afford rent. The dad of the working class family is overweight. His wife constantly has to tell him how to take care of the kids. His children outsmart him and are shown to be out of control at times. On the other hand, the middle class family has a calm, brilliant child. He constantly has to give the working class dad guidance in his day to day decision making. The working class dad is represented as a failure at life, at supporting his family, and the main element highlighted in his role is how stupid he is. The middle class dad is always the calmer one, he takes care of everything whenever a crisis arises, he teaches his kids manners, and is shown as a loving husband. I cannot find any examples of middle class men that are portrayed in the same demeaning way as working class men. Butsch’s piece discusses how inferior statuses are represented by using negative stereotypes of minorities, women, old, and young. These stereotypes are placed into character roles. The problem with this is that viewers are not consciously thinking about the negative images they are watching and the ways in which it affects their view of the depicted group. Think of children and teens watching shows with such inaccurate representations. They start believing and connecting these made up characters with how the real world works. If blondes or black people are portrayed on television as dumb then teens will assume that all people belonging to this category are of inferior intelligence....
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