Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Buddy Sitcom or Three Guys, A Girl, and Some Sexism

As I've said, my next door neighboors are in love with How I Met Your Mother and they got me in the show as my asking to borrow sugar or milk just turned to me coming over to see Neil Patrick Harris do something kitschy and find out when Ted finally pokevolves into Bob Saget.
After being jilted as a viewer by the fantastic pointlessness of Stella, I opted to watch some of the earlier episodes. In the very beginning of the show Robin does not exist as main character, she's just some extension of Ted's love life. The cast proper is just Barney, Lily, Marshall, and Bob Saget's retroactively younger persona. The show centers around them, we learn about Marshall and Lily's relationship and how crazy Barney is and how Ted needs to find love right fokken now, but Robin as a character is flat.
So we have three guys and a girl and this for some reason struck me as relevant. Then I started thinking about other sitcoms and realized how consistent this was for shows about friends.
Mind you, this is only in reference to shows about friend who's only connection is friendship, so this excludes all family sitcoms (Arrested Development, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Boy Meets World, Two and a Half Men, etc) or sitcoms pertaining to co-workers (Scrubs, The Office, 30 Rock, etc). If the show calls for just friends, you'll have 3 guys and girl or something very close.
So let's move backwards.
How I Met Your Mother (before we all loved Robin)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (before Danny DeVito jumped on board)
The Drew Carey Show
Then we have shows that fall in nearly the same formula, but only add guys
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's later seasons
The Girl was cast as eye-candy
The Girl is in-universe eye-candy
Why this is Sexist
Already we're seeing a pattern of disproportionate gender representation. It seems that on shows aimed at a general audience (men and women) there remains a dearth of ladies to go around. So while a family sitcom can have an even distribution (cause it would be weird if there were no aunts or moms) and work sitcoms need the equality (cause it would be really weird if Jim and Dwight from The Office just worked with a bunch of dudes), the buddy sitcom is where network sexism really shows its face.
I'm sure a lot of women want to bring up Sex and the City, Will and GraceThe New Adventures of Old Christine, or something along that vein, but being realistic those are shows that were never made for a general audience. They were made for the viewer with a penchant for expensive shoes and lacking a Y chromosome.
That 70's Show and How I Met Your Mother are the only shows that come to mind that actually have more than a lone girl on the main cast. Of course they loose points both having female characters who are in relationships (nearly) the whole show. So don't expect too many single and independent ladies on the primetime sitcom slot.
But good job Community on having a nearly even cast, 4:3 is impressive ratio...unless we count Chang.
Which the picture on Hulu does...well 5;3 ratio

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