Women, Television and Feelings: Theorising Emotional Difference of Gender in SouthLAnd and Mad Men

  • Elke Weissmann


Contemporary American television drama — particularly of the ‘quality’ genre — has been celebrated for their female characters which appear significantly stronger than previous iterations of women on American television (Paul Harris). These are women who have jobs and, more importantly, drive the narrative forward. In many ways, these dramas seem to suggest that at least some demands of the second feminist movement have been taken into account. Indeed, Jane Arthurs, in her well-considered analysis of Sex and the City (HBO, 1998–2004), indicates that this is certainly true for this particular drama, despite some obvious shortcomings. However, as Arthurs does, we might need to temper our celebratory language somewhat. First of all, such celebrations often seem to be quite forgetful of earlier dramas that centred on strong women, including Cagney & Lacey (CBS, 1981–88). Secondly, such celebrations usually focus on the visibility of women within the narrative, rather than consider their narrative function and other issues of representation. Finally, such celebrations often do not take into consideration other aspects of gender connected to these dramas, including access to powerful roles in production, the gendering of genres and dramas, the implied gendered address of dramas, and the responses of audiences that contribute to an understanding of these dramas in relation to gender.


Female Character Feminist Critique Soap Opera Original Brand American Television 
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© Elke Weissmann 2016

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  • Elke Weissmann

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