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Six Sexist Shows We All Watch and Probably Love

1. Two and a Half Men


Anyone that has watched this show knows it’s comedy cannot mask the underlying sexism involving every character within the show. The plot of every episode follows a generic plot in which a man flirts with woman, who goes home with him, and then he feels great about himself in the morning morning. Next, the nephew loves man because of last night’s actions, and then the woman leaves the house shamefully and only appears under three episodes..


By using the woman as a tool for the protagonist’s sex life, the show clearly identifies women as disposable bodies only available for a man’s use.


2. Seinfeld


Despite all of sexist instances in this show being concealed by its ridiculous, insensitive comedy, the clear sexist portrayal of women and rigid definitions of masculinity in this show are indisputable. Remember the episode where Jerry described a woman by anything other than her looks? Oh right, that episode doesn’t exist. Remember the episode where two men were close friends without being considered gay even though nobody would ostracize them for it? If no, let this point get you thinking.


3. The Big Bang Theory


This show is not as offensive as others but still has some of the same themes hidden behind its nerdy comedy. It’s not about what men say or do to women in the show as it is about how women are portrayed in the show. In the show, Penny is a beautiful woman defined by her stupidity, Bernadette is only described by her body, and Amy plays genius who is often disliked because she is deemed ugly by the men. It might not be as offensive as the rest of the shows in this list, but this show is still offensive to women. Be cautious when you watch next time, and don’t accept how the women are treated as being normal.


4. Family Guy


This show oversexualizes women, makes offensive jokes about women’s looks and reinforces the idea that women do not belong alongside men. Family Guy often tries to propose the idea that these sexist inclinations are casual and comical, and that the people identified as women should deal with all of it because they are ~just~ jokes. We shouldn’t have to deal with sexism as our main form of comedy. Are these jokes perturbing our representation of what we think is right?


5. How I Met Your Mother


For years I watched this show religiously without questioning its content and often replayed my favorite episodes when I was bored or had nothing better to watch. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the show seems to include everything misogyny: body shaming, rigid gender roles, and objectification.


While the show has some good attributes, it is undeniable that most of it has sexist tendencies. Barney and Ted are caught in a cycle of disposing of women because of their bodies and of course, most of the women on the show are characterized by their beauty and crazy personalities, and not their intelligence.


6. Friends


From body-shaming Monica to placing clear standards of masculinity on all male characters, our beloved 90’s show preserves some of the attitudes of its time. It is also notable that most women on the show tend to be described by their beauty and not their achievements. Take any of Joey’s one night stands, or how Monica is often shamed for having been overweight when she was younger. Body shaming placed rigid walls on the standards of beauty, and is super impactful upon the young people watching the show. One example of rigid body standards can be found in the episode with the male nanny in which Ross asked him if he was gay because of this job. Unfortunately, this is just one example of the clear cut roles that characters played in this show.


So, why does any of this matter at all?


The shows mentioned in the article are clearly sexist and no one has questioned them. In fact, these are some of the highest rated shows on television of all times, and they have all been super influential upon pop culture. Both men and women see these shows as the norm and can easily accept the gender roles and sexist comments as just what happens in society without receiving any disapproval. This article is not meant to call out anyone who enjoys watching these shows, it merely asks that you pay attention to these themes so that our generation and the next do not have to view misogyny and sexism as the norm.


Imagine a world where television portrayed women as the strong and independent wonderful human warriors they are. Dream of a show that allows women to dress how they want in which what they wear not being the focus of every review. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be dream anymore. If we pay attention to what we watch and recognize and respond to sexist comments on shows, then the show business has no option but to meet the demands of its viewers. Besides having great television, imagine how it would begin to re-shape society. Just imagine.

No Name

SLU '21

NoName (they/she) is a Neuroscience major and a Gender and Sexualities minor at Saint Louis University. They are passionate about writing informative, often political, pieces that focus on social issues as well as empowering silenced voices through their writing. NoName is an activist who is involved with organizations in the Saint Louis area that are fighting to dismatle the systems that have lead to inequality and marginalization of poor individuals and communities of color.
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