Television has an impact on how you think and the way you see the world. Ever since it started, the power of TV has extended beyond its intended effects. For instance, certain shows or characters can influence the way you decide to live life or view the world.
It has been a long journey for the depiction of women in TV history. Television has shaped and influenced culture from the beginning. It has shaped the perception of the modern woman, and their triumphs, struggles, and aspirations. TV has helped shape the understanding of gender roles and the expectations that come with them. For example, the previous depiction of women on TV had been either that of a domestic wife or a sexual object. Neither of these depictions was helpful for the strides women were trying to make toward gender equality. There has been a shift in the past decade or two that now portrays women as strong, capable, and independent. Some say this has helped redefine and empower women, and others say it is just creating unrealistic expectations and stereotypes.
Two examples of the shift to a more powerful female role are the shows “Sex and the City” and “Ally McBeal”. Although these shows differ in style, they both feature a strong female lead. “Ally McBeal” is a TV show about a female lawyer, her life, and the challenges she faces. “Sex and the City” has become a widely used example in academic studies that seek to explain the connection between modern female identity and space. The show’s title alone, which incorporates the words “sex,” which also means gender, and “city,” which represents space, immediately establishes this link.
Particularly, the city of New York is viewed as a significant location for the portrayal of a free and strong female identity. As a city that embodies the ideals of the United States as the “land of the free,” New York is depicted as a place where women can live their lives according to their own desires, without being beholden to societal expectations. While the shows differed in many ways, they portrayed women as complex, multidimensional characters who were not defined by their relationships with men in a way that was both entertaining and thought-provoking. They also focused on the resilience and strength of modern women.
Over the years, this has helped give individuals certainty about their existence and created a framework for life. TV can help individuals feel more secure about their position in society. I’m sure almost everyone has seen a character on TV and thought “I want to be like that when I grow up”. While TV can still rely on too much sexual exploitation and objectifying the female body, overall TV has shifted to a more career-oriented female role. There are portrayals of a “superwoman” type character who can perfectly balance work life and home life, this however is not as realistic as it seems. The shifts to replicate the modern woman on TV are making improvements, but there is still work to be done. The media needs to continue to better reflect reality through TV if its effects are as strong as they are in society.