Author Archives: Claudia's TV & Youth Blog

About Claudia's TV & Youth Blog

Masters Student at Columbia University for Nutrition Education

What I learned?!?

OK so last and final blog. I finished the season of How I Met Your Mother and this is what I learned…..

1) It is possible to make a show last using the same characters year after year with the same basic storyline

2) New York is basically just white people who hang out all day and only work for a couple of hours a day

3) Men are looking for love too

4) This show is funny!!!

So how does this relate to youth? Well, they can watch this show from all over the world and think that New York is a homogenous city with just a bunch of middle class white young adults who sit in a bar all day. I say this because my group did a short video on representations and it seems to be like How I Met Your Mother does a terrible job at representing a diverse city like New York. New York is one of the most diverse city in this country, with different cultures, ethnicities, religions, ages, etc. The show only exhibits such a small margin of the people that actually live in this city. Although i know it is only a sitcom, it would legitimize the show by creating my diverse characters and making the ones that are current a little less one dimensional. Sure sometimes we get a glimpse of what lays underneath, but for the most part there is little depth especially for the female characters. I know very little about Lily’s past, but I know everything about Marshalls parents, Teds whacky mom and Barneys absentee father. What about Lily and Robyn? We know Robyn was a pop star in Canada, but is there anything past that?

I love the show, but do think there are some flaws in the representations of New York City as a homogenous city, and the lack of depth of these characters.


Season 1- HIMYM

So lets take it back to the beginning…i watched all of the seasons of How I Met Your Mother, starting with season 1. When Lily and Marshall get engaged, Ted feels this certain pressure to start figuring out his life and meet THE ONE. Enter Robyn. They meet at a bar and Ted falls head over heals in love. Throughout the season, we see Ted turn into a puppy dog, hopelessly in love with Robyn, whom he barely knows. Robyn soon becomes a member of the group, and then season 2 starts. I have to say that as much as I love the show, not much really changes throughout the seasons, except for the different love scenarios. What stands out to me now more than ever is the misogynistic undertones of the show. Barney is constantly degrading women and reducing them down to just play things and one night stands. He is supposed to be the stereotypical successful New York playboy, and he is quite funny, but i couldnt help but wonder the effect that his persona may have on those watching the show. In our class readings, there is a lot of mention of the representations in the media and how the imagined audience relates to characters. I can see some men seeing Barney as a hero that they want to emulate and think nothing of treating women as toys. This idea really bothers me.

On the other hand, we see Robyn, who I assume is the female version of Barney. She is somewhat of a man eater and doesn’t seem to take men seriously. For instance with Ted, he really liked her, but all she was thinking of was a one night stand or fling. She cares far more about her work then to build a relationship at this point in her life.

I am not suggesting that life is all about relationships, and no one should be in one if they don’t want to..but is this really the modern New York? just a series of flings and casual encounters? is this the correct image to portray to young teenagers and adults? I don’t think there is anything wrong with a women being independent, and I like that Robyn isnt portrayed as a love starved, single desperato (like in many other shows), but I think they take this a little far with characters like Barney…even though it is used for comic relief.

With that said, I do love the show and still find it to be extremely funny. I am just trying to look a little bit deeper into what is being represented to the world.


Legendaddy

How I Met Your Mother, episode (21:39)- Legendaddy. Air date 3.21.11

In this weeks episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney finally gets a chance to meet his father, played by guest star John Lithgow, with whom he has been estranged from for most of his life. After spending time with his father, Barney is clearly disappointed at the way his fathers life has turned out. He lives a normal life with his family in the suburbs and is not the rock star tour manager that Barney fantasized about. As the episode progresses, Barney reveals his hurt over the fact that his father is able to live a normal life with his new family and be the father that he never was to Barney to his other son.

As Barney is going through this process with his dad, the rest of the gang is pointing out each others “gaps.” The “gaps” are things that each of them did not know until they reached adulthood, like Robin not knowing that the North Pole was actually a place. Or that Ted has been pronouncing chameleon wrong for all his life until he is corrected by his students.

This episode does not really illustrate any assumptions about children and youth except for when we see that Barney’s child hood was extremely effected by the absence of his dad. At the end of the episode he asks his dad why he couldnt be a normal father for him like he is for his younger son. We can see that Barneys not having a full time father left a mark on him and his future.

Part of the reason why I chose this program was to try to find the educational value. I think that by discussing real life issues like in the last episode I blogged about, children can find meaning and relate to the characters and what they are going through. Since some of the characters have known each other since college, we see flash backs of who they were during those years. These clips tell us how Ted was awkward and Marshall was dorky and how Lily and Marshall started to date. The college versions of the characters are grungy, pot smoking, partiers. Usually their stories are filtered by Future Ted as he is relaying them to his kids. It is in these stories that we find assumptions about youth.

To me the show is more about young adulthood post college and the trials and tribulations that we go through as we are trying to find ourselves through careers, family issues, and love.

 

 

 

 


HIMYM

For the rest of the semester the show that I will focus on is one of my very favorite programs, How I Met Your Mother. Although the show has been running on CBS since 2005, it was not until last year that I truly gave it a chance. The show centers around the main character Ted Mosby recollecting the events to his children of how he met their mother, hence the name. The older Ted is narrated by Bob Saget, and each starts off with him telling another tale that led the way to his eventual meeting. Other main characters of the show include his best friend Marshall Eriksen, and his wife Lily Aldrin, Ted’s ex girlfriend, career driven Robin Scherbatsky, and his other best friend sex-crazed Barney Stinson. Each week is a new story surrounding these characters with flashbacks, voice overs by young and old Ted and references to past episodes.

The episode that I watched for this assignment, is called Desperation Day. In this episode Barney declares February 13th Desperation Day because it is the day before Valentines Day when single women feel lonely and vulnerable. Robin and her single co-worker friends try to prove him wrong by going out and having fun to show that they are not desperate. Robin tries to set up Barney with another one of her co-workers by giving her her ticket for a laser tag tournament that Barney is in. Meanwhile, Marshall is in his hometown in Minnesota trying to console his mother after his fathers recent death. Living with his mother Marshall has reverted back to his childhood ways by asking for snacks, playing video games all day, and driving his mother crazy. Lily goes to Minnesota to bring Marshall back to New York, but fails at her attempts. Ted decides to make a last minute trip to Minnesota when he realizes that he is getting cold feet because his relationship with Zoe is moving too fast.

I watched this program on my TV at home. I have it DVR’d weekly. The show can also be watched on CBS.com. The intended audience is adults 18-35 years old according to the dailybeast.com.

What I love about the show is that it is just so funny and heartwarming at the same time. Each character goes through the trials and tribulations that alot of us go through in real life, and they have these friends to help them along the way. Many people can relate to losing a parent, trying to find love, trying to find a successful fulfilling career, heartbreaks, fertility issues, etc. Although comedy is much of what the show is about, these subjects are relatable to most of the people watching. I think that maybe seeing Ted fearing commitment or Marshall going through a morning period after losing his father can help others recognize and deal with their own issues surrounding these matters.

I watched this show at home and I usually watch it during the day in between doing work while taking a break. Other contexts in which i would watch the show is at home with my husband, or at my sisters with her husband, and with friends. It is a very funny show for people in my age group and very relatable. I am thrilled it has been picked up for another two seasons!!!


You know you love me..xoxo GG

So for this week I chose to do a show that was more targeted to the youth market than I have in the past weeks. Gossip Girl is targeted to women 12-34 (TVbynumbers.zap2it.com), and the wonderful decadence of this show is part captivating, but mostly just ridiculous. OK, OK, I will admit that when the show first aired in 2007, I was a huge fan, never missing an episode. But as with all good things, eventually my interest waned, and now I remember why.

Let’s start with the basics. The show is narrated by an unknown blogger called, “Gossip Girl,” and follows the lives of the privileged and powerful teens of manhattans young elite. The show started as a reflection of manhattans upper east side private school scene, but has since evolved into the typical soap opera filled with lies, deceit, cheesy storylines, and, oh, tons of fashion! The cast consists of many different characters, which storylines intertwine, in most every episode. There is Serena Van Der Woodsen- the ‘it-girl’, Blair Waldorf-the self-professed Queen Bee, Chuck Bass-the bad ass/international play-boy, Nate Archibald-the good guy rich boy, and Dan Humphrey-the outcast from Brooklyn. Also included are Jenny Humphrey, Eric Van Der Woodsen, Rufus Humphrey, Lilly Van Der Woodsen and Vanessa Abrams.

Each episode starts with a recap of the storyline and “gossip girls” most recent blog post on one of the characters and ends similarly as well, setting a new story in motion for next week. Having not watched the show in a very long time, I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but here is what seems to be happening. Blair is interning for W magazine and having a hard time with her boss and worried about her upcoming review. She sets a plan up to get her boss a man so that she will be happy and nicer to Blair. Chuck is worried about losing his company, Bass Industries, to a buyer and sets out to make the buyers daughter fall in love with him. Somehow Blair and Chuck plot together for each of their interests, but in the end Chuck falls in love with the girl and his plan backfires. Serena is falling for the guy that supposedly stalked her or drugged her, but his name has been cleared somehow. Dan is jealous so he teams up with Eric, who is being manipulated by a guy he likes, to get rid of Serena’s new love interest. Wow, this is exhausting. Lets skip all the middle and go straight to the end. All the plots have come undone and the lessons learned. Each person feels remorseful of what they have done in one way or another and now have to deal with the consequences. In Blairs’ case, her boss has decided to quit leaving the job and responsibilities to Blair. Chuck is forced to sell his company, but now will work for his girlfriend and her father. And Eric and Dan realize they have been duped by Erics’ love interest and must fess up to why there where really after him.

Gossip Girl airs on the CW network or it can be watched online at cwtv.com. I am finding it difficult to actually see where this show can be educational besides learning about new Spring 2011 fashion trends. The program is a far cry from reality but maybe there are lessons to be learned if you look close. For a teenager growing up outside of New York, they can see these characters and someone to aspire to. Most of the cast attends ivy-league school Columbia University (what up!), while also living robust social lives. Although there is a lot of conniving going on, rights are always wronged and someone always learns a lesson.  Maybe this show gives young teens someone to relate to. They may think, “I want to be a powerful strong sexy women like Serena or Blair,” or “I love fashion and New York.” From the readings we have read, apparently TV show characters relate to teens more than we realize so these characters can be another outlet for a teen to relate to. The thing that worries me about this show is that it is geared toward teenagers, and its explicit sexual content seems inappropriate for a 12 year old girl. These images and story lines give the impression that sex should be used to manipulate and get what you want, and there are little consequences. That is my main concern about this show. I guess its up to the parents to make sure that their child either does not watch the show or that they explain that it is not real and not the way the world works. Until next time XOXO Gossip Girl


Essay Draft 1

Television and the Development of Youth

“Television and the Development of Youth” conjures up many thoughts and feelings for me. In my experience growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, television was a part of the infrastructure of our everyday lives. My sisters and I would come home from school and hang out in the living room watching our favorite after school shows, then our primetime favorites as well. Although there were four of us kids, and we each had our own rooms, our parents did not believe in us having televisions in our rooms, so we were forced to have to compromise on what we would all watch. I remember my mom always saying that her and my father felt that if we each had our own TV, then we would not spend the same amount of time together. So for my family, I guess the television helped us to bridge the gaps in age between my sisters and I and give us that connection.

For me, I don’t know if I necessarily identified with characters in shows as much as I enjoyed the entertainment and then discussing it with my friends. We would laugh at something funny from The Simpsons, 90210 or our all time favorite Saved By the Bell (Name five people in my age range that don’t know who Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jesse and Screech are). With reruns on four or five times a day after school, that show become the anthem for kids in the 90’s. In mid conversations we would be able to spit out a line from the show and everyone would know exactly what we were talking about. The show was of course way to corny to be realistic, but maybe that is part of what everyone loved about it so much. How simple it made being a teenager seem. Television growing up was a way to have something of my own, away from my parents. My mom always hated The Simpson and never watched it long enough to actually hear or see the small nuances, which makes the show so brilliant. So even in just that example, I was able to assert myself as a modern kid growing up in a different era than my parents.

Today when I look at kids I think I am starting to see them through my parents eyes. Although I do not have any children of my own, I have nieces and nephews that I am watching grow up from the outside. It is mind blowing how many distractions, toys, electronics, TV shows, etc., these kids are growing up with. Their TV sets are so fragmented with hundreds of channels that at that age I wouldn’t even have known where to start. The simple times of only having 4 or 5 main channels of primetime shows are gone. I don’t know exactly how this is affecting them. Is it making them smarter and able to handle more content? Is it making them distracted with so much going on? Is it giving them more options of characters and people to look up to and relate with making their life easier to deal with? Is it helping them to connect with others like it did for me? Or is it just numbing them contributing to an inactive lifestyle and dumbing them down? I am sure when I was growing up there were similar concerns among adults. Now being on the other side of it, TV doesn’t seem to be as harmless as I thought.


Oprah Masters it Again

Found on the newly launched OWN channel created by Oprah Winfrey in January of 2011, Oprah Presents: Master Class is nothing short of masterful. Master Class is one of the programs that started with the new channel and essentially interviews various extremely successful people who are “masters” at what they do. Guest speakers like Diane Sawyer, Maya Angelou, Jay-Z, and Lorne Michaels discuss their early beginnings, and their rise to fame and success and the life lessons that they used to help them along the way.

In the episode that I watched, Simon Cowell of American Idol fame is the subject being interviewed. With small interludes of Oprah throughout, the program mostly consists of the the interviewee discussing their life and lessons. The episode opens with a wolf running through the forest, as Simon simultaneously relates the fears around the music and entertainment industry to the primal instincts of the wild wolf sensing fear. Simon learned early on that showing fear in this industry was not an option so he chose to exude an over the top confidence that would prevent others from sensing his fear. Cowell discusses his early working experiences and his start in the mail room of music company EMI. Cowell knew he wanted success but was not sure how, so he decided to learn as much as possible from the successful people around him and his mentors. At the age of 32 Cowell ran out of patience and decided to start his own label. Early success soon became early failure and Simon found himself bankrupt and starting from zero again. In this he learned to never let his ego get in the way and not to believe his own hype. This was one of the most important lessons that he took away. With the creation and success of Pop Idol in Great Britain, Cowell and his partners decided to take a shot at bringing it to the big leagues in America. Although they were turned away from every network, they were given a shot on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network. In the spring of 2002 American Idol premiered its first episode to mixed reviews. Soon the show would rise to become number one and along with it Cowell’s worldwide fame and huge success. Known for his brutal honestly Cowell makes no apologies on his harsh tongue and bluntness when it comes to his career. He believes in people with strong opinions and thinks that was one of the keys to his success.

Simon reflects back on his career and says that the “getting there” was the best time of his life. He urges others to enjoy the ride and not get caught up with worrying about when the success will come.

The shows ends off with the key takeaways that the viewer can learn from Simon. These were: Enjoy the ride, be honest with yourself and others, trust your instincts, be patient, and have fun.

According to vcstar.com, the intended audience for this program is similar to that of The Oprah Winfrey show on ABC of women 25-54, but it seems as though Oprah is looking to “cast a wider net” and gain a larger more diverse audience then her roughly five million viewers. This program has a huge potential for both entertainment as well as education. This program gives intimate access to someone who is hugely successful and teaches life lessons that the viewer can take with them and apply to their own life. In the media we only see someone of Cowell’s caliber as he is now, in his case an opinionated, arrogant, and wealthy TV personality and music exec. We do not see how they got there and how their principles and work ethics awarded them to these great successes. The is entertaining for a similar reason. We as a public like watching celebrities and learning about their lives. We are a curious culture especially when it comes to someone who is rich and famous.

The reason I enjoy the program so much is that it gives someone who has reached great success a platform to tell their story to us, and give us something to relate to and learn for ourselves for our lives. Being a huge Oprah Winfrey fan, I would not have expected anything less than something enlightening. Its Oprah, need I say more?