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Gender on Television


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#31

rosiebloom

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Posted Apr 6, 2004 @ 10:47 PM

Single TV women always need man, are in search of a man, waiting by the phone, fantasizing about weddings, worrying about their biological clock, pressuring their men to make a commitment, whiny, self-pitying, weak, ice cream-eating, Meg-Ryan-movie-watching children. How the hell did they get such a great career, rising to a prominent position in the media, and maintain a great Manhattan apartment? Some of us don't want marriage and a family.
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#32

oliviabolivia

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Posted Apr 6, 2004 @ 11:05 PM

I am so sick of useless fathers on TV. Is it too much to ask for a father to be portrayed as compassionate, involved and desirous of actually spending time with his children? Yes, some Dads want to come home and sit on the couch and ignore their families, and it's uproariously funny when they try to weasel out of their nagging wife's demands. Most of the Dads of my acquaintace, however, play with their children while they're awake, help with homework and housework, put kids to bed, read stories and generally take an active role in their children's lives. So why on earth are most TV Dads uninvolved assholes?
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#33

Dani257

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 12:04 AM

I am so sick of useless fathers on TV. Is it too much to ask for a father to be portrayed as compassionate, involved and desirous of actually spending time with his children


Sandy Cohen on The OC.
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#34

healing fish

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 12:09 AM

There are also the fathers on Everwood. And Will Girardi on Joan of Arcadia. And Darrin Tyler on the now-decaying Wonderfalls, who was actually so overinvolved in his children's lives that it was funny. Sitcom dads are pretty much a lost cause though.

Edited by healing fish, Apr 7, 2004 @ 12:34 AM.

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#35

lannie

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 12:55 AM

Single TV women always need man, are in search of a man, waiting by the phone, fantasizing about weddings, worrying about their biological clock, pressuring their men to make a commitment, whiny, self-pitying, weak, ice cream-eating, Meg-Ryan-movie-watching children. How the hell did they get such a great career, rising to a prominent position in the media, and maintain a great Manhattan apartment? Some of us don't want marriage and a family.


Where's Mary and Rhoda when we need them?
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#36

Rockstar99435

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 1:53 AM

Another concept: the Lifetime movie. Here is the network that is supposed to be empowering women, yet every movie is some woman in jeopardy.

God Bless the Lifetime Network. Teaching young girls that the only way to be empowered is to first be a victim.[/eyeroll]
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#37

Cynic

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:40 AM

Word about the craptastic-ness that is Lifetime Television, the "men are evil" network. All men are abusive, alcoholic, adulterous child-nappers, didn't ya know? All single moms are heroic. All dads are deadbeats. A woman with a man is always a victim, nothing the woman does to the man is ever wrong, in fact it's applauded, but the man can't do anything. Even if the man isn't technically abusive in the movie, say he's just going for custody in a divorce, then he's still the "devil" who is trying to destroy the mom's life by taking away "her" children. It's never just two parents who each love and want to raise "their" children. Why can't this network have women who not only make smart choices in their professional lives but also smart choices in their personal lives? Isn't maintaining a loving relationship with a good man (if that is your choice) while being personally successful, empowering? Isn't handling the unfortunate dissolution of a marriage in a mature manner with your ex something that should be modeled? This network is demeaning to women and insulting to men. The thing that really chaps my hide about this is that it encourages this attitude IRL, which leads to abuses of the system. Oh, you're getting a divorce? Well, immediately file a TRO against your spouse to have the upper hand in the proceedings and then move far, far away to "start over" without the burden of having to deal with maintaining a relationship between your children and their father, because it's all about YOU. Gah!

Oh, and on the subject of chubby sitcom hubbies with gorgeous wives, a Big Fat WORD to everything that's been said. Personally, I like Grounded For Life. Both partners are attractive but neither is a conventional hottie-type (although, I do find Donal Logue incredibly sexy). I also like the older woman/younger man vibe on Crossing Jordan (even though she is an intelligent professional so obviously she can't have any interpersonal skills). Jerry O'Connell isn't that much younger than Jill Hennessey, but he's such a baby face that it's really striking.

Oh and Jael, cough, I actually find Brock on Reba to be smokin' hot.

Edited by Cynic, Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:51 AM.

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#38

etain

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 10:49 AM

Here's something that steamed me -- Agent Scully. A truly unique, strong, original female character. At FIRST. Until 1013 altered the laws of biology in order to make her pregnant (she had had all her ova REMOVED, people). And their reason for making her pregnant? This is a direct quote: "It's something that can happen to a woman."

HATE.

As for Lifetime: I have to read a lot of scripts for a theater company I work with, and one of my disparaging comments for some scripts we get is "It reminds me too much of a Lifetime Channel Original Movie."
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#39

screamapiller

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 11:10 AM

Oh, and on the subject of chubby sitcom hubbies with gorgeous wives, a Big Fat WORD to everything that's been said. Personally, I like Grounded For Life. Both partners are attractive but neither is a conventional hottie-type (although, I do find Donal Logue incredibly sexy).


I'm totally with you on the Donal Logue love, Cynic. And unlike some of the other TV pairings of hot wife/chubby hubby (yes, I'm looking at YOU, Courtney and Jim), I actually find them believable.


Also: I was just on another thread and got reminded of the greatest "big girl gets hot guy" pairing on television: Overton and Sinclaire on Living Single. She is large and lovely and he is fine!


Jael, you beat me to the punch. I wish there were MORE pairings like this on TV. Not every guy on the planet wants to date a girl who looks like Monica or Rachel.... and I'm not even going to try to hide my lurv for this couple - I miss the days of Synclaire talking about naming their future children Syncloverton and Overclaire. Hee!
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#40

cgchimes

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 11:27 AM

soxom- I don't watch "Judging Amy," but thanks for the info!
As for animated characters, well, I think Marge and Lisa Simpson and Peggy Hill certainly aren't supermodels, but they're mostly positive characters and complex women (although Peggy does fall into the overbearing-wife mode too much).
Lisa is perhaps the best TV role model for girls I can think of :-)
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#41

squiggles

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 12:33 PM

On the subject of ugly women/handsome man pairings I can think of a few, but the ultimate has to be Sharon and Dennis in British soap Eastenders. Sharon is by no means ugly, she's just average looking, slightly overweight. But Dennis! Words cannot do justice to just how attractive this man is! I'm not sure how to link pictures, but type Nigel Harman into google and take a look for yourself. You won't be disappointed!

Talking of portrayal of teenage girls on TV, the show which showcases the two most obvious stereotypes is 8 Simple Rules. Elder daughter Bridget is a blonde, boy obssessed bimbo, while younger daughter Kerry is a redhead, academic, slightly depressive and a smart alec.
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#42

slaughteredlamb

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:33 PM

Lisa is perhaps the best TV role model for girls I can think of :-)


I started watching the Simpsons when I was six years old (yikes I'm young) because I wanted to be like Lisa, and continued to watch and still wanted to be like Lisa. A little girl seriously interested in current events (from politics to nature), likes and is proud of being intelligent, persues her own unpopular interests because they are her interests, and yet still feels free to play with Malibu Stacey dolls (although with her own ideals of how Stacey should act) and to get occational crushes with realistic outcomes? The existance of Lisa Simpson is a great thing.

And since the Simpsons has fallen apart, I agree that Patty Pyor on American Dreams is the next best thing. Most people think she's an annoyance, but I love that Patty actually feels free to question, speak, learn, and do as she likes. Plus, Patty's at the perfect time to just do brilliant things once she gets older.
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#43

TVjunky

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:48 PM

Here's something that steamed me--Agent Scully. A truly unique, strong, original female character. AT FIRST.


Dear God! It's almost criminal what they did to that character! I mean she went through so much crap! By the end of the series cully was nothing short of a martyr! I loved that she was a tough, smart cookie, and yes, beautiful as well, without ever coming off as being there merely for eye-candy. But has any female character suffered half as much much torture as she did?

And, based on what we know, she got laid once, maybe twice in nine fucking years!!! The writers will tell you "blah blah blah devoted to Mulder an the X-files cakes", but the feeling I kinda got was mereley that Mulder could go and do whatever the hell he wanted, but Scully had to remain at his dispositin 24/7.

By the time Mulder was abducted, I had elevated Scully to sainthood in my mind... Why, oh why must all good, strong female characters always be subjected to so much pain and violence?

On a different note, I got worried at first that, when Doggett came along, he would just be a sexist jerk, being an ex-cop who seemed to be part of the old-boys club in the FBI... After his rather unflattering introduction though, I was pleasantly suprised to see him portrayed as a truly decent man, very respectful of Scully (once he got used to the paranormal business) and women in general. YMMV.
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#44

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:48 PM

I blame Tim Allen for this. Everything was going relatively well until "Home Improvement" became this big hit. Suddenly, men everywhere were grunting and burping and displaying the "me no understand chicks" bit.

mbridgii,
Good call. I never thought of that. The Cosbys and the Keatons weren't stupid or disrespectful. They at least liked each other.

eta; haha! I don't think they knew each other. I meant that Claire and Cliff liked each other and talked to each other as did Stephen and Elyse.

Edited by Mimi10022, Apr 7, 2004 @ 2:49 PM.

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#45

dracula mclaser

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 3:15 PM

I think what's driving the hot-chick/ugly-dude pairings on tv, esp. sitcoms, is that ugly (esp. fat) serves as a shorthand for stupid on tv. I think lazy writers like to make a pair of comic characters where one is smart and one is stupid because it is an easy way to set up zany situations. Because of contemporary sensitivities, you couldn't have a show like "I Love Lucy" anymore, with a hare-brained wife in need of constant correction from her husband. And that's a good thing, but it means that the husband needs to be stupid. Sitcom husbands are fat because they are stupid. What would be better would be more shows like King of the Hill, where both partners in a marriage have realistic sets of good and bad qualities. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
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#46

LydiaB

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 4:01 PM

dracula mclaser, this reminds me of something that eeowyn up in the Sports Night thread a few months ago. From a Comedy Central interview with Aaron Sorkin:

There was a very well known, much awarded and justifiably awarded television director, probably the most well-known television director. ABC wanted him to direct the pilot and I met with him and clearly his instinct was also, "Well this is great, but it needs to be more like a sitcom. These two guys, these two anchors - one of them needs to be the neat guy, the other one needs to be the sloppy guy. One a gay guy, one a straight guy; one the fat guy, one the thin guy. It's got to be like that. And I said, "God, I don't know anything, I'm not in television. You're an incredible success and I'm sure you're right, but I'm not going to do that." And the network got very upset with me, that I had sent him packing.


So, yeah. Lazy-ass writers.

Also, good point about fat=stupid in TV shorthand. Although of course there are exceptions: Dan Connor comes to mind.

Edited by LydiaB, Apr 7, 2004 @ 4:03 PM.

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#47

healing fish

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 5:13 PM

I blame Tim Allen for this. Everything was going relatively well until "Home Improvement" became this big hit. Suddenly, men everywhere were grunting and burping and displaying the "me no understand chicks" bit.


YES. Dear GOD. I could kill that man with my bare hands.
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#48

RealChic1999

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 5:29 PM

I blame Tim Allen for this. Everything was going relatively well until "Home Improvement" became this big hit.


It is so hard to watch that show (it comes on in syndication in random airing order late nights here on the Fox affiliate)...Tim is a huge sexist, the boys are rambunctious...but Patricia Richardson added a breath of fresh air to that show. I liked how Jill was intelligent, and instead of being the typical, stay-at-home mom (like in many of these sitcoms), she pursued her own interests and ended up going back to school for her psych degree. Right on.
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#49

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 6:44 PM

Anyone tired of the Rebecca Howe/Joyce Davenport archetype: intelligent career women as snide, icy, ball-cutting bitches?

Joyce Davenport, ok, not the most flattering choice of words, but close enough. I'd say she was a woman of strong conviction fighting her way through a system that was entirely owned and operated by men, and we usually saw her in situations which were, by their nature, confrontational. I'm glad they showed her arguing her case instead of fluttering her eyelashes. I'm glad they showed her winning a lot of those arguments - and then they showed her having a (mostly) happy long-term relationship. That character was a major breakthrough back in the day.

Rebecca Howe, OTOH, was a nasty bitch, all right, but an incompetent one whose principal career goal was fucking the boss. I don't think the two of them belong in the same stereotype.


re: Dana Scully:
I lost all respect for her the day she asked Fox why she didn't have a desk. If she wanted a desk, why didn't she call supply and get one delivered?
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#50

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 6:49 PM

Anyone tired of the Rebecca Howe/Joyce Davenport archetype: intelligent career women as snide, icy, ball-cutting bitches?


Rebecca Howe of Cheers? Who uttered the phrase "I am too stupid to live"? I thought she was more the slept-her-way stereotype.

I've noticed that IRL often hottie women end up with out-of-shape, meh-looking guys. I blame television.

Agent Scully did used to be the best female character on television before she devolved into victim and martyr. And whoever pointed out that we need Mary and Rhoda back was right on. That show presented a much more empowering view of being a single, professional thirtysomething woman than anything on recently. (Ally McBeal, anyone? Sex and the City?)
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#51

Sleestak Hunter

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 6:54 PM

I've noticed that IRL often hottie women end up with out-of-shape, meh-looking guys. I blame television.

Not in my (real) life!

Heyyyy. Maybe that means I'm not meh-looking at all- but totally gorgeous! That's it! Of course! I'm too good-looking. Damn my beautiful self!

TOPIC: I got nothin'.

Edited by Sleestak Hunter, Apr 7, 2004 @ 6:54 PM.

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#52

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 6:56 PM

What did people think of the Firefly women? OK, yes, the "respected space hooker" crap was really annoying, but I loved Zoe and Kaylee, especially Kaylee, especially after her introductory flashback didn't change her status as a nice girl - so she likes sex. So what?
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#53

screamapiller

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 7:00 PM

And whoever pointed out that we need Mary and Rhoda back was right on. That show presented a much more empowering view of being a single, professional thirtysomething woman than anything on recently.


a big fat giant Amen to that WORD, Susaphone. It's so sad that some of the representations of "independent women" are more like cartoon characters. I loved me some Rhoda! She and Mary were actually realistic!

This is precisely why I prefered The Drew Carey Show to Friends, b/c I found the characters much more like people I know - I have a friend who works for UPS and is a scarily similar to Oswald (but not as cute), another who is a classic underachiever with a brilliant mind like Lewis who just doesn't bother trying to find a job that's not totally beneath his abilities...


I've noticed that IRL often hottie women end up with out-of-shape, meh-looking guys. I blame television.


I'l join your bandwagon!

Edited by screamapiller, Apr 7, 2004 @ 7:01 PM.

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#54

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 7:52 PM

I loved Zoe and Kaylee, especially Kaylee, especially after her introductory flashback didn't change her status as a nice girl - so she likes sex. So what?

That was wonderful. I laughed so hard during that flashback. I want to be just like Zoe when I grow up.

They got Scully pregnant because ... they could? Ai yai yai.
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#55

healing fish

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 10:16 PM

I never thought of Rebecca Howe as much of an intelligent career woman either. More of a lazy, annoying bitch.

Edited by healing fish, Apr 7, 2004 @ 10:17 PM.

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#56

screamapiller

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Posted Apr 7, 2004 @ 11:11 PM

They got Scully pregnant because ... they could?


This? just makes me want to cry.

Edited by screamapiller, Apr 7, 2004 @ 11:27 PM.

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#57

rosiebloom

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Posted Apr 8, 2004 @ 12:05 AM

First season Rebecca, before she started slurring her speech, she was pretty much the sterotype.

Re: Joyce. I believe it's possible to be a "difficult" woman, and still be respectful towards your male colleagues. Joyce always seemed contemptuous of them, and intend on bursting their fragile masculine egos. Lucy the cop was a strong-willed and likable woman.

On single city women, I remember when Suddenly Susan, The Naked Truth, and Caroline in the City were on the same night. All intelligent, independent women with high paying jobs in the media living in spacious lofts, and the "conflict" of the series were that they were all searching for a man. Each tried to persuade us to pity the poor heroine because her life was so incomplete without a husband. We could add Ally McBeal and the Friends women.
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#58

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Posted Apr 8, 2004 @ 12:09 AM

They got Scully pregnant because ... they could? 


This? just makes me want to cry.


As Jessica said in one of her recaps -- "1013 Productions: For When Your Head Just Won't Explode Enough."
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#59

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Posted Apr 8, 2004 @ 1:38 AM

There was a very well known, much awarded and justifiably awarded television director, probably the most well-known television director. ABC wanted him to direct the pilot [snip].


Ten bucks says it was Jim Burrows.

Re: Drew/Friends--I completely agree. Drew has the more realistic lifestyle, and I never found myself wondering how they could afford what they had--thoroughly middle class and work is the essential part of the show.

The honestly of the characters makes Drew, Lewis and Oswald mush more attractive than Ross, Chandler, and Joey. Plus the Drew/Kate relationship is much truer than Ross/Rachel--For Drew, beauty is involved, but it's much more that woman inside (like with Nikki) rather that Ross getting horny whenever Rachel batted her lashes.

But then, what do I know? Colin Mochrie is one of my TV boyfriends--my world view is obviously off the mark.
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#60

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Posted Apr 8, 2004 @ 3:27 AM

One thing that I've noticed in the shows I watch (mostly crime shows) is that there's quite a lot of the older man (boss)/younger woman who is his subordinate pairing. The thing is, I either like or tolerate, Jack and Claire on Law&Order, Grissom and Sara on CSI, and Jack and Samantha on Without a Trace (I'm leaving out the adultery aspect in my discussion here). In and of themselves, all these relationships/maybe-relationships/ex-relationships don't bother me. I know some people hated them for various reasons, though. (I'm pretty sure there was one on Crossing Jordan as well...the Miguel Ferrer character with a younger woman?)

BUT. You would never see, for example, Vivian on Without a Trace hooking up with Danny or Martin. Even though she's around the same age as Jack's character, she isn't presented as having a sex drive. In fact, Vivian's character is cool, but very underused and doesn't get nearly the development any of the others do (though she did have a plot this season.)

(Catherine on CSI isn't a spring chicken either, but I don't really put her in that category as she's pretty conventionally attractive and has been presented as practically the CSI sex object. I like both the female characters on CSI, but I like Sara more, though her plotlines recently have given me headaches.)

The idiot husband stereotype has annoyed me as well. The worst part is that so many guys seem to *like* the stereotype. 'Yep! We're just guys!' It's rather depressing to think that they have no problem with being shown as dolts who never think of anything but sleep, sex and sports.

Relationships on TV are similarly irritating. All women are marriage-seeking nags. All men are commitment-phobic and only marry because they've been trapped into it. Seriously...if you hate it so much that you have to go into all the 'last night of freedom' hijinks...*don't get married*.
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