Sex and the City

While I never watched Sex and the City as a child (what parent would allow that) I learned to love it during my teen years when it started to run on E! The show ran from 1998 to 2004 so it only really got the tail end of the 90s though it has left its mark on pop culture all the same. For those who have never watched, since I know it is pretty different from the kid and teen demographic most of the shows I have discussed so far, I will give some background. It follows 4 women in New York City and each them has there own distinct personality trait. Carrie is the ringleader of the group, a journalist who writes a popular sex column. Samantha is the self proclaimed group slut but also a strong yet sexy business woman. Charlotte is preppy and wants to have a family while working in an art gallery. Finally Miranda is a strong willed lawyer who is the brains of the group. While all of the women have strong careers and personalities they also have very active romantic/sexual lives. The show basically follows all 4 women through theIR trials and tribulations regarding work and love in the chaotic city of New York.
I have been a fan of those show for years so I am very familiar with issues dealt with in the show but anyone wanting to look at some of the scenes I will insert a clip here which shows the relationship between her and Mr. Big. Throughout the series Carrie and Mr. Big have an off and on again relationship with Carrie often wondering why she is not good enough for Mr. Big after her marries a much younger model. While they eventually end up together the path to that point was very rocky. While Carrie and the other women long for physical intimacy and lasting relationships that doesn’t make them weak. Many times throughout the series Carrie or one of the other women take control of situations and are seen as strong role models such as when Samantha has cancer or Miranda cares for her ill mother in law. The show does a good job of showing real life struggles women may have such as the ones previously mentioned but also marital struggles leading to divorce, cheating, and infertility. I think Sex and the City is similar to Beverly Hills, 90210 in that it deals with real life problems and tries to help its viewers understand that everyone goes through these things without being preachy.
The scholarly article I read for Sex and the City was Sex and the City: A Postfeminist Point of View? Or How Popular Culture Functions as a Channel for Feminist Discourse by Fien Adriaens and Sofie Van Bauwel. In this article the authors assert that Sex and the City is a product of postfeminism. The authors describe postfeminism, “For many scholars, postfeminism is created by media and the advertising business to increase sales by means of using empowered representations of women in their campaigns,” though they later describe their own point of view as, “Postfeminists are against the totalitarian disposal of traditional female gender roles by feminism; personal choice is the central concept. If a woman chooses to stay at home for her family, that is her choice, and this choice is equal to the choice of choosing a career.” The article also describes personal female pleasure, a prominent point in postfeminism, as a common aspect of Sex and the City and that the women take control of their sex lives and initiate, accept, or decline at their leisure.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Powerpuff Girls

Anyone who says they didn’t love this show growing up is plain wrong and I can’t be convinced otherwise. The Powerpuff Girls was one of my favorite shows as a child. I had t-shirts, toys, blankets, cups, Gameboy games, and who knows what else. This show encompasses girl power as I have described in previous episodes such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While I loved this show as I child I am interested to go back and look at from a scholarly perspective as an adult.
As most of you probably know, The Powerpuff Girls follows 3 little littles who are created in a laboratory and have superpowers. Throughout the series they are called upon by the Mayor of Townsville to fight crime and bad guys. Without even having to watch an episode of this show and only reading the synopsis we can already see some trends. The Mayor, an older man, must call upon 3 little girls to fix his problems and thus puts the girls into a position of power. This is contrasted by the character of Sara Bellum, the Mayor’s assistant. This character is only shown from the shoulders down with her voluptuous body as the main point of her character but she is very often the brains behind the Mayor’s ideas and her name is meant to be a pun off of the cerebellum, a part of the brain, which is ironically since her we never see her face/head. Here I think the show creators are making a point about how women are sexualized to the point that their thoughts and opinions are second to their looks but as as child I never would’ve picked up on that fact.
I was able to find the very first episode of The Powerpuff Girls on YouTube and that is the one I will be talking about here. While I have already discussed the representation of females in the show I have not discussed possible implications to viewers. I found a lot of relevant scholarly articles when looking at The Powerpuff Girls but the one I will be including in this blog is Saving the World Before Bedtime: The Powerpuff Girls, Citizenship, and the Little Girl Superhero by Lisa Hager. In this reading the author puts into perspective how many superhero females focus on discovering their sexuality while also figuring out their powers but The Powerpuff Girls do not have that issue since they are children. With this it allows for the show to be a source of empowerment for little girls with sexuality completely removed. The author also notes that shows such as The Powerpuff Girls are retaliating against conservative American culture by breaking gender stereotypes and empowering women. Empowerment of women has been a strong theme among the shows I have looked into so far and I find it interesting to look back and think to myself, “did The Powerpuff Girls have any impact on my life and the way I see things?” and I think “probably so.”
A final note for those reading, was there a specific Powerpuff Girl you associated with the most? There could be a whole other blogpost on the framework in personality on The Powerpuff Girls. I always felt I was a Blossom.

Clarissa: Explaining it One Episode at a Time

This next show I had never even heard of until the first meeting for the Console Living Room and that is Clarissa Explains it All. All I really knew about it going into this project was that it was a 90s Nickelodeon television show starring Melissa Joan Hart who was also in the television show Sabrina, the Teenage Witch which I have done a previous blog post on. Clarissa Explains it All ran from 1991 to 1994 and follows a teenager named Clarissa as she navigates life while explaining it all to the viewer.
While there were no full length episodes I did find a variety of short clips. The first one I watched was this one which features Clarissa babysitting a little girl. In the clip I watched Clarissa seems like a pretty normal teenager babysitting an evil little girl while her brother tries to blackmail her. When watching the show I didn’t see much that I felt could be applied to my paper so I moved on to looking at scholarly sources.
The source I found was Girls Rule!: Gender, Feminism, and Nickelodeon by Sarah Banet-Weiser. In the reading the author describes Clarissa as part of the “self-confident, assertive, and intelligent” girls in television along with shows such as The Wild Thronberrys. The author makes this point, “The embrace of consumer culture is the site for tension within girl power programming on Nickelodeon as well. Once feminism (as represented through girl power), becomes part of the mainstream it has traditionally challenged, can we still talk about it as political? Can feminism be represented and enacted within popular culture, or is popular culture by design hostile to feminism?” I think this is a point that is relevant to my research because I am directly analyzing the effects that media has culture and specially on women within society. While I am not specifically looking at feminism and its place in society I am analyzing how television can influence trends such as feminism in society.

What’s your zip code again?

Next up is a show that my mom and aunt were huge fans of growing up but I have literally never watched before: Beverly Hills, 90210. This show ran from 1990 to 2000 and helped to launch the career of stars such as Shannon Doherty (who was also in the show Charmed which I will be reviewing later on), Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling. This show is highly regarded as one of the best teenage dramas to grace the small screen and has been the basis for other tv dramas and a remake that began only 8 years after the original shows conclusion. Sadly this show does not have full episodes streaming online for free so I will be mainly using separate clips for this blog post but for those of you who have CBS accounts you can watch full episodes here.
For the first part of my analysis I will be using this YouTube video. It features Brenda talking on the phone with an unknown girl who is talking about how she just needs to talk to someone. Brenda says she will listen and the girl on the phone starts to tell Brenda about how she likes this boy at school and she thinks he likes her to. She then asks “when you tell him to stop and he doesn’t, does that mean it’s my fault?” to which Brenda replies “No! At least I don’t think so..” and the girl concludes saying “How do you know if you’ve been raped?” From a viewers perspective I think the show opens up the dialogue to talk about serious problems teenagers, especially girls, may have such as sexual assault. While Brenda is there to help the unknown caller she isn’t confident in her answer when telling the girl it wasn’t her fault for being raped. Including scenes and story lines such as this shows viewers steps they can take if they ever combat these issues in real life and know how to help those in need. In my personal experience I have heard my peers say they don’t like when television or entertainment slips in issues such as these but I think seeing these things can have a positive impact.
Continuing on this point I found a scholarly article titled High School is Hell: The TV Legacy of Beverly Hills, 90210, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Sara Magee. Here the author asserts a point similar to mine and claims that when something becomes tons of copies of it start to appear in the media but what sets shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer apart is there ability to talk about serious issues such as rape and helps educate their audience while still being entertaining. In the article it uses a quote from Aaron Spelling that says, “We have a sign up here that says when you do issues, and God knows we did forty-one issues on 90210 alone, ‘Don’t preach, teach.’ Say things in a way that young people understand them.” Another quote from producers of the show was, “We hope that we can have some impact a) to entertain, and b) when its over to get them [teens] to think about what they have seen, for maybe about five seconds. That was always our goal, just five seconds. And the fact is, it seems that our impact is a little longer than that.” I think these goals are similar to ones I discussed in my Buffy post and can have a great impact on an audience to shape a generation in their thinking.