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There are several instances of gender stereotypes portrayed in the hit series Friends. Gender stereotypes are mainly found within the characters’ dating life. The series includes the typical stereotype of men portrayed as “womanizers” or sex-driven with a willingness to do anything to have a one-night stand. The men of Friends are seen dating several women during the show. In season two of the series we see the male characters go through several extents just to have relations with women. Here are a few examples: Joey and Chandler are asked to watch Ross’s son.
Joey realizes that “women love babies, women love guys who love babies, it’s the whole sensitive thing”. They are later shown walking around in the city trying to attract women using Ben, Ross’s son. (Season 2 Episode 6) Joey, an actor, pretends to be his character Dr. Drake Ramoray so he can date a fan until he realizes she is a stalker. (Season 2 Episode 12) Chandler wears ladies’ underwear because women convinced him that she would find him more attractive if he does so.
(Season 2 Episode 13)
Joey seduces a director’s assistant in order to get an acting job. (Season 2 Episode 13) In the first few seasons of Friends, both Joey and Chandler lack interest in commitment and a long-term relationship. Unlike their male counterparts, the females on Friends are not seen having several one-night stands. The women of the show are often seen in long-term relationships, which is more stereotypical for women to be portrayed as on television.
Both Monica and Rachel are in long-term relationships during season two. Rachel is in a relationship with Ross and Monica is dating Richard. For Rachel and Monica, getting married, settling down, and having children is very important to them. Monica’s “overall ambition was to start a family. Therefore, Monica exhibited the stereotypical female dream – to be in a committed relationship and to have children” (Marks). This became the pitfall of her relationship with Richard. In episode 6 of season 2 Monica who displays the desire for the perfect family ideal, is visibly upset because Ben Ross’s baby son cries every time he is near her.
The characters on Friends have stereotypical gender-dominated jobs. The stereotype that “male gender roles imply that men should have high-paying, dominant professions such as doctors or lawyers” is reinforced by the male characters’ careers in the show (Chaffe). Ross is a paleontologist with a PHD in paleontology, Chandler is an IT procurement manager, and Joey is an actor. They all have jobs that are seemingly more respected and have higher pay compared to the female characters. Most males in television are portrayed in upper-management jobs. In Season 2 Episode 14 Joey lands a role in The Days of Our Lives, which is a famous soap opera, it is very obvious that he is making good money when he starts buying a lot of expensive things and eventually moves out on his own thanks to his earnings, before losing the job and again becoming unemployed. Later, in Season 2 Episode 23 Chandler who is a manager at his job has the ability to hire Joey temporarily even though he has no credentials for that job. The women of Friends have female stereotypical jobs. In season two of the sitcom Rachel works as a waitress, Monica is a chef, and Phoebe is a masseuse and a musician.
Once again, Friends reinforces stereotypical gender jobs. Lauzen notes that “female characters performed more interpersonal/relational action and fewer decisional, political, and operational actions than do male characters” (Lauzen ). In one scene Monica is the head chef at a restaurant but her male coworkers do not respect nor listen to her. She plots a plan to hire Joey and fire him within a few days in an attempt to show her male coworkers that she must be taken seriously. In Season 2 Episode 14 Monica is at a job interview. She is asked to prepare a dish for her interviewer who commences making sexual references to her cooking. He asks if the lettuce is dirty, and when Monica says she will wash it he explains that he likes it dirty, he also asks Monica if the tomatoes are nice and firm. Monica reacts by storming off. This is an example of sexual harassment that often occurs toward women in the workplace. Then in the next episode, Monica lands a catering job after some time without one, where she later explains that her mom got her the job furthering the stereotype that she could not find one on her own. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media created the tables below. Table 1 indicates the percentage of men and women in media and television with clout positions. Table 2 indicates the percentage of men and women in media and television with STEM-related jobs.
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