Women’s Representation in Television

Author: Sabrina Leverett

Below are two charts comparing women’s representation in two popular shows, Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. These charts are used to exploit the disparities that exist in women’s representation in older television shows as well as newer ones.

Friends

Category Amount MCs?
White 12 Yes
Black 1 No
Latina 1 No
Asian 0 No
Disabled 0 No
Child 0 No
18-25 3 No
25-40 10 Yes
40 and older 0 No
Bigger 0 No
Smaller 14 Yes

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Category Amount MCs?
White 9 Yes
Black 6 No
Latina 4 Yes
Asian 2 No
Disabled 0 No
Child 0 No
18-25 8 No
25-40 9 Yes
40 and older 1 No
Bigger 0 No
Smaller 21 Yes

 

Since I don’t have cable, I decided to compare two of my favorite comedies, Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I used a random number generator to pick the episode I watched. Friends is quite an older show and almost infamous for how little diversity it has, along with other offensive elements such as lesbian fetishization, transphobia, etc. On the other hand, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is generally pretty diverse and has little to no offensive elements.

From what I gathered, it is clear to see that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a lot more diversity when it comes to women’s bodies, but it does still have work to do. Both Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Friends have no representation for larger women, with every woman in both of the shows being slim. In addition, both shows have little to no older women or disabled women in them. This shows a pattern of exclusion that is not getting better. While the amount and race of women (whether it be extras or main characters) has progressed over time, other types of women don’t seem to be getting much better.

Although this is not shown in the chart because it’s not directly related to women’s bodies, I’d also like to include that both shows have no representation of queer women whatsoever. In Friends, there is the occasional episode with Ross’ lesbian wife, but when she is in episodes she’s often the butt of a joke or the subject of fetishization. While Brooklyn Nine-Nine does have queer male representation, there is no explicit female representation (although one of the actresses has tweeted before that she believes her character is bisexual).

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