How are women represented in the British Sitcom PeepShow
I have looked at how women are represented in Peep Show, a British Situation Comedy based around two very different friends that share a flat in London. The majority of situations they get into involve their attempts to seduce or gain affection from the women they either love or have a fleeting obsession with. The reason I decided to analyse Peep Show is because its two main characters are so contrasting in ethics, morals, life style choices and attitudes towards women that it allows for an interesting look into how women are represented. I also feel that women in comedy on a whole are underrepresented.
The literary resources I will be drawing upon include and article by Jack Glascock from the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media(2001). In which he looks at gender roles on primetime television and focuses on the shift in representation from the seventies gender roles on primetime television .The article is both theoretical and statistical and provides an interesting overview of gender on screen. I will also be looking at the work of Brett Mills. I will look at two of his works one is a journal article in the Oxford Journal Screen. Also looking at his book, The Sitcom. Brett Mills is an expert in the sit com arena, with several journals and books on similar subjects, he offers a contemporary look at British sitcom, including Peep Show.
I had several issues when approaching the method of my research. The first issue was that in order to do a focus group, I would have to pick specific episodes to show people. By choosing a specific episode, I would by default be cherry picking the content and with that content cherry picking the ideology of the episode. I therefore decided to pick an episode at random, so I could try to eradicate the possibility of me picking an episode that would reinforce my own opinions.
The episode “The Local Zero” was then shown to two male and one female. These three participants had never seen an episode of Peep Show before, they there for were briefed on the general narrative: i.e that Mark and Jeremy are friends that live together in a flat. I also did not tell them specifically what I was trying to find out; I then asked them a series of questions. Not all specific to gender, however the majority were pin pointed towards gender. The focus group gave me an unbiased first account of what people thought if they were to just turn on the television for the first time and see an episode of Peep Show. Would they think that the show they had just watched represented women positively or negatively? They would have no bias or favouritism towards the characters. So it was a raw first thoughts approach, that was both useful and a hindrance. I balanced this out with a general textual analysis of the series.
As I mentioned in my methodology the focus group consisted of people that had not seen Peep Show previously. I showed them an episode in which Jeremy is troubled by his girlfriend’s new found wish for abstinence and Mark is still trying to win the heart of Sophie, the woman he works with, by fighting off the competition. The two female characters we are then presented with are Sophie and Nancy. Nancy is an American Christian who wants Jeremy to break sexual taboos after being criticised by Mark for not following her religion; she decides abstinence to be the last sexual taboo. When I asked the focus group who the least likeable character was they all eventually agreed on Nancy, when asked why a participant stated she was “just annoying” a statement again that was agreed on. In the episode she comes across as a bit stupid. In response to her abstinence Jeremy pretends that he is fine with it, although in Peep Show you can hear the thoughts of Mark and Jeremy. One of the participants noted when how positive the interaction between men and women was, one participant said...
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