When a typical American between the ages of 15 to about 30 hears the name “Fez,” the immediate reaction may be a smile, a bit of laughter, or a sudden outburst of conversation regarding everyone’s favorite sitcom, “That 70’s Show.” This show seems quite harmless, seeing as it now airs on Nickelodeon (generally a children’s network) quite frequently. After viewing just one episode—though I’ve seen almost all of them, twice—while keeping gender roles in mind, I think its assumed “harmlessness” could be endangered. I will do one post focusing on simply explicating the characters and their gender roles, and my next one will explain a particular episode. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the main characters in the show:

Eric: That awkward but awesome friend. The only thing I really have to say about Eric is that much of the time, he expects Donna to be a traditional teenage girl; he wants her to submit to him, have sexual relations with him, marry him, and raise their children at home. He is not a jerk about it and actually does push against many stereotypes about men, but he definitely falls into the category of stereotypical man in a relationship.

 

Hyde: The jerk in the group who has a conspiracy theory for everything. He has a general dislike for people which others respect by staying out of his way (I find this to be a “masculine” thing, therefore a stereotype). He is sarcastic, dry, a bit of a loafer, and takes strong interest in girls and alcohol. He embodies the typical male teenager; however, if these traits belonged to a girl, I feel as if it would not be seen as funny or acceptable.

 

 

Fez: The foreign exchange student who wants on every girl alive. He frequently lies and tricks girls into getting intimate with him. He acts childish and immature most of the time. Again, something that I think people would feel uncomfortable with if Fez were a girl.

 

 

Kelso: The foxy town idiot. He portrays how “good-looking” men should look: tall, muscular, perfect smile, white, etc. Throughout the series he also shows that good-looking people are constantly given opportunities simply based on their faces and bodies; he is successful without trying. Talk about “white privilege!”

 

 

 

 

 

Donna: The only feminist or person concerned about feminism in the show. Though she has big dreams of becoming a journalist someday and tends to defy much of the “typical woman,” she proves that TV shows are, indefinitely, fallible. Despite her shiny future, Donna is constantly collapsing under the pressures of sexual actions with her boyfriend, Eric. She is never truly happy unless she’s with Eric (or, in later episodes, with other men); their relationship seems to always at its best when they are having sexual relations. Furthermore, she is called “Hot Donna.” She is tall, skinny, blonde/red-haired, and frequently presents herself in a “sexy” way (i.e. not wearing a bra). I think they really missed the target on making a character with feminist ideology and “different” dreams.

 

 

 

Jackie: The stereotypical female everyone stays away from. Jackie is extremely materialistic and narcissistic. She thinks that beauty defines not only herself but her life as well in regards to social and financial status. She is always hooked up with a guy, and the audience is consistently reminded who she is “doing it” with. She is promiscuous, unfriendly, and only cares about herself. I feel that this is the way many men view women; they see them in their worst light, and Jackie’s character does not help to dissuade them from these stereotypes. (Sorry about the vulgar in the GIF, but it’s perfect!)

 

Though I do love this show, there is much to be considered when watching. Since it is shown on such a renowned network, it is easy for young children and young adults to learn the stereotypes and “expected roles” that it portrays. The men are generally inconsiderate and objectify women, while the women do generally find themselves as these objects of sex. Furthermore, it portrays the women as average, since there is nothing “radical” about any of them (TV Show Hit List). As for the men, the stereotype of “men are pigs” is deeply enforced in this show. Yet, amidst all this, everyone seems okay with it. Personally, I think that this is because the show can use the excuse that it was set in the 70’s where things truly were much more traditional. However, kids don’t take that into consideration when watching TV shows. On a last thought, I can appreciate this show very much, because it can make fun of the way society is; therefore, it can be seen more as satire than as enforcing certain stereotypes when an adult mind is viewing it.

Written by:  Molly Farley

Website Cited: http://webpub.allegheny.edu/employee/a/acarr/ws200/tvhitlist.html – TV Hit List