In honor of women in business week, I was reflecting on how the media represents women in films and TV shows. A lot of the time women are portrayed as the primary caregiver as they stay home, bring the kids to school, clean the house, do the laundry, etc. Over the past five to ten years, though, I have found some TV shows and movies that highlight women as the breadwinners or CEOs instead.
A few months ago, I discovered the show ‘Suits’ on Netflix. This show has been running for a while and is old news to most, but I only started binge-watching it in September. I will not brush over the fact that the show can get repetitive and the character arcs are fairly predictable. But what I do want to focus on is the show’s attempt at putting hardworking women in power.
Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres, is a corporate lawyer in Manhattan. She is a woman of color who is a named partner at her firm and essentially, she runs the place. She keeps her employees in line, she keeps the law firm afloat, and still she is under-appreciated by her white male colleagues.
Throughout six seasons, I watched Jessica Pearson being constantly doubted for her abilities and criticized for her ambition and drive. As a woman, she is berated for being strong-willed and aggressive but she is also seen as inadequate at any perceived sign of weakness. The show touches on these stereotypes against women (especially women of color) by giving Jessica a monologue where she speaks about these double standards. There have been many critiques from viewers of the show, though, that the women are always stuck wearing tight dresses and that the men rule the law firm.
In my opinion, this show is a start. This show first aired in 2011, so I would argue that we have come a long way. With each new season, it has improved. Jessica Pearson is arguably an inspiring character and a great role model for women in business.
If you are interested to learn more about Suits or Jessica’s role within mainstream televisions, check out https://www.themarysue.com/jessica-pearson-suits/ for an informative article about Jessica Pearson’s impact on Black Women’s Television Roles. Or, http://www.btchflcks.com/2014/02/suits-secretly-subversive-when-it-comes… for how Suits is missing the mark while at least trying to show trials and tribulations of the underprivileged and marginalized identities in business.