Stereotypes are televised

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In most recent memory, television has been at the peak of both popularity and quality. New hit TV shows like “Transparent” and “Game of Thrones” have become staples in mainstream media and award shows alike. However many of these shows, whether intentional or not, are filled with stereotypes.
Just recently a new wave of television shows has been introduced that center around a more diverse cast rather than around the typical white family. Shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish” have made headlines for their focuses on Asian and black families. Though these series have a broad representation of minorities in the media, some argue that they incorrectly represent the cultures. These groups are portrayed with heavy stereotypes that can be seen as offensive.
“The Big Bang Theory,” one of the most popular TV shows on network television, is one of the most prolific examples of offensive stereotypes. The show revolves around four young nerds living their day to day lives working out problems with work and relationships. Though they are the show’s forerunners, nerds are portrayed in a negative light.

“They make it seem like [nerds are] all very antisocial, can’t talk to women and [are] overall socially inept towards society.””

— Timothy Wilbur

said junior Timothy Wilbur. “I know a lot of people who do fall into that [stereotype] but I know more who don’t.”
The nerd stereotype has been used countless times in TV shows and film. Notable examples include Steve Urkel from “Family Matters” and Dwight Schrute from “The Office.” Yet at a time when nerd culture has become mainstream and part of popular culture, stereotypical portrayals of white antisocial personalities might rub people the wrong way.
Another popular show that often uses stereotypes is “Modern Family.” This comedy is about several different branches of a family who deal with problems that many families encounter in real life today. However a few of these characters are based on stereotypes that can be perceived as offensive.
“They use [Cameron and Mitchell’s] sexuality as a joke sometimes,” said sophomore Judy Jaques. Cameron Tucker, a character on the show, is heavily based on stereotypes of gay men, presumably for comedic effect. To some people this can be seen as offensive but others might see it as nothing but a joke.
Stereotypes will forever be a part of mainstream media and many will be harmful but are there examples of stereotypes being played off right? The CW’s new hit “Jane the Virgin” does exactly that by showing what many agree to be a true representation of Hispanic family life. The show revolves around a young Hispanic woman who becomes pregnant after accidentally being artificially inseminated.
The show is a satire of Latin soap operas and telenovelas that emphasize over-the-top characters and dilemmas. “The irony of it is that Jane’s dad is a famous telenovela star who plays a parody of himself by being dramatic on and off the screen,” said senior Luci Alcon.
But the show does more than simply show a satirical version of Hispanic life. It also touches on minorities’ real life situations, such as immigration, that typically wouldn’t be shown on network television.
“The grandma is an immigrant who is also illegal. Her constant fear of the police and being deported is something that other people watching face. It’s something that I fear, not with me but with my parents and other people’s parents. It’s something relatable but it is never shown as super stereotypical. It’s just the right amount of satire so it doesn’t become distasteful,” said Alcon.
The TV game is changing rapidly with more new shows that bring in a broader audience every night. Though shows with more diverse racial casts that do not rely on heavy stereotypes exist, they are still a minority in the TV guide.
“I know there’s a lot of people who don’t know the struggles people go through so I’m glad that shows like these shed light just a little bit on these situations to make people aware of minorities’ lives,” said Alcon.

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Stereotypes are televised