Gender in the TV Show “New Girl”

Gillian Wilson
May 6, 2017 · 3 min read

In our society there are stereotypes about each gender and how we think they should act. For example, society tends to show women as more emotional and men as more logical. We can often see these stereotypes at work in the media that is produced within a society. To examine some examples of these stereotypes about gender, I chose to look at the television show “New Girl.”

Like many forms of media, “New Girl” doesn’t reinforce stereotypes across the board. This article aims to show some examples in the show where the characters fall in line with the stereotypes our society has and where they do not. As a whole, the characters in “New Girl” are more nuanced than just these stereotypes, and this article should not be viewed as saying anything bad about the show, but rather pointing out what is considered normal for each gender in our society.

New Girl Season 4 cover

The show “New Girl” is about a quirky schoolteacher named Jess who moves into a loft with three single men after discovering that her ex cheated on her. Within the pilot episode, it is possible to see several examples of the characters acting in ways considered “normal” for their gender in our society.

Characters Nick and Jess shown crying about their exes in Episode 1.

In the Pilot episode, Jess and her roommate Nick are both shown crying after their exes broke up with them. Even though they are both acting very emotional, there is still a difference between the two crying. In the scene where Nick is crying, it is only because he is drunk. It’s as though he is only allowed to break down and express his emotions when he is drunk, but the rest of the time he has to act like he isn’t hurt. For Jess, her crying is viewed by the men in the loft as a normal reaction, and they try to cheer her up.

Another example of an episode when Jess acts very emotional is when she cries over a photo of a puppy in a cup while at a job interview.

Jess sobs over the photo of the puppy, which would be something that would be viewed as a much weaker action if it were a man doing it. Since Jess is a woman at a job interview, it makes her look as though she is not fit to be in a professional setting.

The way that media depicts television shows tends to be through the male gaze, which shows women as sexual objects for the viewing of men. In the very first episode of “New Girl,” there is a very direct example of the male gaze. In the first episode Jess’s male loft mates have just met her friend who is a model. All three men are sitting on a couch across from her and just staring.

The way that “New Girl” shows characters of different genders acting is revealing about what expressions of gender are considered normal in our society. By the standards of our society, it is normal for females to act emotional and for men to keep in their emotions. It is normal for men to stare at and objectify women, and for women to be used to it.

Media Theory and Criticism 2017

Articles by the MSCM 230: Media Theory and Criticism class…

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