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You will write an Essay Project Summary. To do this, you will read all of the essay
abstracts below and look for evidence of similarities and differences between them. Ask
• Based on the studies we did, what conclusions can we come to about the way
masculinity is portrayed in TV dramas and the deeper meanings that are revealed
through these studies?
• What are some key similarities or themes that emerge? Is there a strong,
coherent message contained in the majority of these portrayals? What is it, and
whose interests are served by this portrayal?
• Do you see a different, contrary message emerging in those essays not included
in the majority perspective? If so, what is it, and whose interests are served?
Write a clearly-argued 4-page essay (12pt font, double-spaced) that makes a case for
your analysis and conclusions about the studies written this semester. Use evidence
from the abstracts to illustrate your claims.
The show you selected
This Is Us
Your critical insight
The view of the male character ranges from well-known, damaging
stereotypes to ground-breaking performances showcasing how gendered
identity is seen in the viewer’s actual reality.
The method(s) you use
This balance of television discourse, narrative function, and the criticism
of femininity ideology come together to show how This Is Us creates an
encompassing look at the masculine gender and how impactful their
platform can be in changing those stereotypes.
Summarize the key pieces of evidence you draw on, how you analyzed them,
and how they supported your thesis.
The male kids struggling to deal with emotion and denial of future
grief (challenger explosion, Kevin has no reaction and subdues any
emotion, Randall giving up on astronaut dreams and scared his
parents will die)
Page 431 Butler – men versus emotions as a narrative function and
to realize an attribute of a character
Jack convincing his mother to leave his father. Taking care of her
and stepping up to be “the man” in the house, protecting his
mother, the grown up.
Page 461 Butler – feminist television criticism. A society’s
ideology reflected in the female stereotypes of the show
Kevin’s immaturity and unwillingness to change in his
relationship. His jealousy for his ex-wife’s boyfriend and child-like
behavior of the whole situation.
Page 463 Butler – Discourse of Industry, Political Industry. How
global and economic factors affect the type of production a series
undergoes. (4 aspects of global economy) – tv as an arena for
discourse debated by the public (public sphere)
Your conclusions — particularly as they relate to your insights about the
preferred meanings of masculinity that are visible in this TV drama.
Despite all negative connotations that the displays of toxic masculinity
portrays in This Is Us, their forum of discourse, use of narrative function,
and criticism of femininity ideologies create a great critical example of
portrayal of masculinity in modern television.
For my critical analysis essay, the television show I selected to analyze for
portrayals of masculinity was Grey’s Anatomy. The essay looks at three episodes
of the show’s most recent season, airing on September 30, 2021. Upon observing
each episode, my critical insight of my findings was there were many different
portrayals of masculinity by characters in the show. Toxic masculinity was the
most observed masculinity trait throughout each episode. Toxic masculinity can
be described as men using violent or non violent actions, status, power, and
control to get what they want out of people. This was often portrayed by one of
the main doctors in the show, Link, as he tries to maintain his love life with
another main character in the show, Meredith Grey’s cousin, Amelia. However,
toxic masculinity was not the only portrayal discussed. The critical essay analyzes
positive and negative connotations of the portrayals of masculinity.
The methods used for writing this critical analysis essay were visual observation
and note taking of the show, and through Jeremy Butler’s findings on the portrayal
of masculinity in television shows. I had no prior knowledge of the show
beforehand, so I sat down and watched all three episodes in a row, pausing every
time a portrayal of masculinity occurred. Jeremy Butler’s understanding of the
topic helped aid my research. Butler wrote about how men are often perceived to
be in a role or position of power in television. For example, in one episode, the
doctors at Grey Sloan Hospital are looking to higher new doctors. One doctor
being interviewed, Dr. Lin, explained to them how her previous boss only hired
women because he had to. This is a direct example to Butler’s research on how
toxic masculinity in the workplace can occur, “position of power”.
The key evidence to support the claims in this essay are through two of the main
characters of the show, Link and Owen. Upon observing each character through
the first three episodes of the new season, Link displayed many actions of toxic
masculinity, while Owen was the complete opposite, defying the stereotypical
masculinity term. In the case of Link, one example of his toxic masculinity was
how he tried to force Amelia to marry him. Link caught her by surprise at another
person’s wedding, proposing to Amelia and using his kids as an influence to make
her say yes. Amelia said no, however, because she knew it was a controlling and
manipulative thing for him to do. As for Owen, his son, Leo, is often seen
dressing in what society classifies as “girl clothing”. In the first episode, Leo was
seen wearing a tutu. He was questioned by his grandmother for wearing one, but
Owen quickly defends his son, telling her how it does not matter what clothes he
wears. In the second episode, Owen’s wife was questioning if it was “the right
thing to do” to get their son to wear “boys clothing”. Once again, Owen defended
how his son dresses, which is completely going against the stereotypical, negative
connotations of masculinity.
In conclusion, Grey’s Anatomy has examples of positive and negative
connotations of masculinity throughout the first three episodes of their most
recent season, season 18. The male characters in the show tend to portray a lot of
the same traits throughout each episode, but it gives the viewers different looks on
how some men handle different situations.
Looking at the Netflix show Ozark from an outside perspective, one would
assume that the main character Marty Byrde is a typical working middle class
businessman. However, one comes to the realization that he is a vindictive money
launderer that works for a ruthless drug cartel. The use of toxic masculinity is
apparent throughout the series, not only with Marty but with several other
characters in the show. Toxic masculinity is the use of violence, sex, agression
and status to define one’s manhood or to be perceived as dominant. Ideology is
another aspect that plays a role in understanding the toxic masculinity that is
present in the show. Ideology is a set of principles that a person has about a topic,
a way of understanding the world and provides meaning. The
show Ozark condones and promotes toxic masculinity that is not limited to
physical aggression, but it is also portrayed as manipulation to achieve the
common goal. Using Butler’s method of ideology we understand the ways in
which these acts of toxic masculinity serve this particular group.
Marty Bryde, the main character in Ozark, uses manipulation as his means of
portraying toxic masculinity rather than physical aggression, as opposed to others
in the series. In season 4 episode 2 of the show, there is an FBI agent investigating
Marty and his wife Wendy’s finances. Maya Miller, the FBI agent, knows that
Marty is laundering money from the Mexican drug cartel, she is just looking for
evidence to prove it. In this episode, Marty is sent to Maya’s house in order to set
up a meeting with Maya and the Mexican drug cartel. He wants to do this in order
for his boss Navarro to come to the US, do some jail time if needed, but come out
with a clean slate. In order to set this meeting up, Marty manipulates Maya into
meeting with the drug cartel by using bribery. Since Maya is a new mother, he
shows up to her house with a gift containing newborn clothing. In chapter 14 of
Butler’s text he expresses “Ideology, in this context, signifies a fraudulent and
misguided image of reality” (Butler, 339). This is similar to the tactic of
manipulation that Marty is using, in order to benefit his particular group. In
convincing Maya that he is on her side, bribing her and manipulating her, this in
turn gives him the upper hand. This use of toxic masculinity allows Marty to
designate his manhood without being violent or aggressive rather he uses mind
games as a tactic.
The next character that will be discussed is Navarro. Navarro is the leader of the
drug cartel ring who is Marty’s boss. Unlike Marty and his family, Navarro is one
who sends others to do his dirty work and uses various tactics of toxic masculinity
in any way he can to benefit his business. The cartel uses violence and aggression
without hesitation. In season 4 episode 7, one of Navarro’s men is sent to the US
in order to murder two individuals who run a competing money laundering
company that is hindering Navarro’s profit. The man walks into the room and
says “We told you from the beginning to stop selling heroin but you just wouldn’t
listen” and without hesitation he kills both of the individuals. After this
occurrence he then leaves. This set of ideology differs from Marty and his family,
as they use violence and aggression solely to get what they desire.
When we look at each character in the show Ozark as a whole whether this be
Marty, Wendy, Navarro, Ruth, Javi and Mel it is apparent that each character acts
a certain way due to their set of ideology. Each character has a different
upbringing that changes the ways in which they see the world. Butler’s chapter
explains that the ways in which individuals act is to benefit their certain group as
well as they act in ways that they believe is right.
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