Female Millennial’s and How They Are Represented in Television Sitcoms

The Millennial Generation is defined as anybody born between 1980 and 2000, which means that anybody from the age of 14-34 is considered a millennial. This generation is the largest generation, even slightly larger than the “baby-boom” generation which spans from 1946 to 1964. Almost 78 million people were born in the millennial generation, so we have a large influence on all aspects of culture, including social, economic, and political influences. (Noren “Graphic Sociology”) Female millennial’s and millennial’s  in general are viewed upon by older generations as lazy, unmotivated, promiscuous, and classify us for the most part as still dependent on our parents for many things. “According to a national survey, barely one adult in three think that today’s kids, once grown, will make the world a better place.” (Howe 3)  If we truly were all of those things, older generations are partly to blame, they are the ones who raised of us.

But, nonetheless, I can see where they are coming from, especially from some of the recent reality shows on MTV, which is a television network largely targeted towards younger people and millennial’s. But, I don’t think shows like the Jersey Shore and The Real World fairly represent millennial’s, especially females. Snooki, in her Jersey Shore days, is not the reality of how most generation Y females are. In recent years I have started to see shows that are more true to how female millennial’s really are. Shows like 2 Broke Girls, New Girl, and Girls, are starting to get the right idea of how we are and how we think. Older generations like the baby-boom generation, are very one sided when it comes to their opinions of the millennial generation, they look at every negative thing, and they don’t see all of the positives that the millennial generation contribute to society.

Shows like 2 Broke Girls, break down the barriers and really argues against the opinions of older generations. The show is about two young women that are hardworking waitresses who work all the time in order to save up and realize their dream of owning a cupcake shop. Max, one of the lead characters, is the baker of the group, she’s a snarky, sarcastic person, that’s never really known what it’s like to have a lot of money and she doesn’t believe in herself as much as her co-lead Caroline does. Caroline, is a former millionaire that had all her money taken from her, when her dad was charged with fraud and sent to jail. She’s a smart, business minded person, but is naïve when it comes to “the real world”. This show is a sitcom, so there’s a lot of witty banter throughout each episode, but behind that banter, there are underlying things that you can see are true about the characters, and true about female millennial’s in general.

In one of the episodes entitled, “And Hoarder Culture”, they are picking up a side job from waitressing, to earn more money to put towards their cupcake shop savings. In the episode, they are cleaning out a hoarder’s apartment and finding anything they can sell to make more money. This isn’t the only episode where they take up side jobs in order to save more and more. They are always taking side jobs whether it be cleaning a hoarder’s apartment, to being elves in “Santaland”, to being maids for their neighbors cleaning business. This shows how hardworking, independent, and motivated they are to realize their dreams, and they’ll do anything in their power to be successful. Which defies a lot of what older generations think about millennial’s.

The show New Girl is about a 20-something year old’s life living with three men for roommates. Jess the main character, is a teacher that’s super quirky, who knows what she’s doing in life, but has yet to settle down in a traditional household. Her and her roommates explore what it’s like to be independent, to live with the opposite sex, and what it’s like being in a relationship in the 21st century. Older generations, get the idea that the millennial generation is promiscuous because we date a lot more before we settle down then they did. But, I don’t think that should be a negative thing. When you look at the divorce rates, maybe waiting longer than usual to settle down with someone is the smarter way to go. When question the reason why less people are getting married, Alice Walton says, “the benefits of marriage were simply not enough to counter the potential psychological and financial pain of divorce.” (Walton “The Marriage Problem…” Jess throughout the series dates many guys, she explores her options, and she gets hurt on many occasions.

The show breaches the subject that it’s okay to be in your late 20’s and to still have roommates. Older generations tended to settle down around their early 20’s, so when they see that younger generations aren’t doing the same, they view it as promiscuous, and unhealthy in some aspects. I think that older generations have the opinion that women especially should be settling down and starting motherhood. But, it’s healthy to explore your options and not settle for just anybody and its okay to still be figuring things out. When you settle down to quickly, you can feel like you have to give up on a lot of things that you wanted to do with your life, and women should have the same opportunity that men have to explore their options before settling down. New Girl, show’s women especially, that they don’t have to settle and they can live their life how they want. Women shouldn’t be called promiscuous for exploring their options.

The show Girls is also exploring the idea of promiscuousness, and independency. In the very first episode one of the lead characters is being told by her parents that they are no longer supporting her financially, now that it’s been two years since she graduated college. She’s thrown to the wolves in a sense, and she has to figure out how she’s going to survive on her own. She has to learn to be independent in the tough economy, and her choice of careers is not the most thriving. Her and her friends start to live out their twenties “one mistake at a time” according to the HBO summary of the show. The four main characters all have jobs or are going to school. There may be statistics that show that the amount of young people in the workforce has decreased, but statistics have also shown that more and more young adults have chosen to pursue their education. “19.9 million students were enrolled in colleges and universities in 2013, compared to 13.5 million in 1990, 7.9 million in 1970, and 2.7 million in 1949.” (US Census Bureau). A lot of critiques call the show unclassy and misguided. But, it’s an accurate representation of women in their 20’s trying to figure out their lives, and it may have an undertone of feminism throughout the series, that I think highlights a lot of the things that may not “be okay” for women to do or be like. There’s a lot of nudity and sex, that I don’t think older generations are comfortable with seeing. But, it’s the reality of our culture now.

Men have always had the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to being sexual. People don’t look at men and call them promiscuous or slutty. And this show, brings in the reality that women can have large sex drives as well, and they shouldn’t be looked down upon for that. I think sometimes older generations have a tough time accepting that thinking, women should be virgins until they’re married of course! Women have been exploring their sexualities for as long as history can recall, it’s just becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. Slowly, women are becoming more open with themselves and people around them, and it’s time that everyone accepts that. Girls brings in the reality that, it’s not fair nor acceptable for that double-standard to still exist in the 21st century.

All three of these shows argue the very basis of how older generations view female millennial’s and millennial’s in general. They show that young adults can be hardworking and motivated to be successful in their endeavors. That it might take a while and there might be some bumps along the way, but that female millennial’s are capable of being independent and relying on themselves to survive in this world. That they might be what older generations consider to be “promiscuous” but that it’s okay to explore relationships, and not settle down. And they break down double-standards when it comes to females and males. So, older generations who generalize all of the millennial’s to be lazy, dependent, and unmotivated, are not always right. Our generation is capable of doing everything their generations were capable of doing, which let’s face it they made mistakes too, and we might even be more capable then them in some aspects.

 

Works Cited:

Howe, Neil, William Strauss, and R. J. Matson. Millennials Rising: The next Great Generation. New York, NY: Vintage, 2000. Print.

Noren, Laura. “Graphic Sociology.” Graphic Sociology RSS. Graphic Society, 04 Oct. 2011.Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

US Census Bureau, “After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports,” http://www.census.gov, Sep. 3, 2013

Walton, Alice G. “The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Instead.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 Feb. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

 

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3 thoughts on “Female Millennial’s and How They Are Represented in Television Sitcoms

  1. Hey greatperhaps20,

    I enjoyed reading your essay, especially as it relates to me, a 22 year old female. I agree that we are often misrepresented in pop culture and media. I feel that reality T.V shows are often the most harmful as they take an extreme and present it as if it is a universal reality. I personally am a hard worker and have had a job for many years and like to consider myself independent, however we do get stereotyped as lazy. I also agree that it is important for us to explore not just our options but ourselves, learn about who we are and what it is that we want or need, I feel these are things people suppressed in the past. While people aren’t getting married young as often as they use to, I have noticed a slight increase in the last few years, especially when moving back to Portland. It seems like it has increased in popularity or maybe it is just more than in Scotland. It’s frustrating that we still don’t have the same rights as men and that many others don’t have the same rights as we do, we seem to constantly battle over our differences rather than appreciating our similarities and uniqueness. I believe many great things will come from our generation and that we should be proud of ourselves and older generations should be too. After all, I’m sure the generation before them saw them just as they see us.

    Thanks for the insight

  2. Hi there!
    I just wanted to say, your essay is one of my favorites that I have read!
    I have seen all of the shows that you mentioned, and I agree with what you’re saying. The way in which you talk about the older generations, it is a refreshing notion to see that the popular culture is portraying some hard-working women.
    Are you pleased with your findings? I feel a bit better about defying what older generations think we are supposed to be like- I hope that each generation is able to defy the “norms”, because every can’t be the same.
    Your paper was really well written!
    Great job.

  3. Interesting topic. I’ve never heard of those shows you wrote about, but it’s a very relevant issue today. We face issues today that are different from what our parents face, and our children will have their own problems and challenges to face. Traditions should be challenged regularly, especially when it is your own life your talking about. Growing up and going on your own makes you face the decision making process, sometimes, in a way you didn’t think you would have to. I git married a few years ago, rather suddenly, and until then I wasn’t sure I would ever get married. However, by the time I met my wife I had dated a lot, and during the process, learned a lot about myself. When I did meet my wife, I was very honest about my past and felt much more comfortable finding out she had done the same. I liked the idea that I was with someone who had had the same experiences as I had and that we could speak openly and frankly about the issue. After all, it’s her life. Good paper.
    Zack

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