Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Gender Analysis of "The Girls Next Door"
The famous hit reality television show The Girls Next Door is about three young Playboy bunnies that live as the well-konwn girlfriends to Hugh Hefner, founder and owner of the Playboy industry. Just in case you haven’t seen the show, Holly, Hugh’s number one girl and his obvious favorite, is the oldest and most mature of the three girls; Bridgette is viewed as ditsy yet the only one going for her master’s degree and Kendra is the youngest and newest one of Hefner’s girlfriends.
These three girls live an open life in the Playboy mansion as they roam about nakedly revealing every aspect of their lives while viewers take in mind-blowing ideas and images on societal norms. This provocative show is perpetuating a message that supports the socially constructed images of femininity and masculinity by conveying the relationship between a father and daughter; Hefner and the girls.
For one, Hugh Hefner does not seem to treat his ‘girlfriends’ like they are his lovers. Instead, he exposes (well, at least on screen) a father-like role to the girls. He treats them like they are his daughters, which questions his dominance over them as a father and not a lover; he never kisses them in a lover-like passionate way, but instead gives them a kiss on the forehead or a peck on the lips.
Secondly, on-screen, the girls act differently when they are around each other versus when they are around Hefner. When the girls are together they are loose, energetic, crazy, and always seem to be having ‘girl fun’. However, when Hefner comes around, the girls seem better-behaved, angelic, and prance around as if they’re walking on clouds (ie, the whole Barbie-on-her-tip-toe icon). This is giving off a false image, or might I add, ‘false advertisement’, of how the relationship should be between a man and woman (s). In other words, all girls (daddy’s little girls) should respect their male lover the way they respect their fathers and listen to everything and do everything that the daddy says, sarcastically speaking.
This show sheds light on the social norms that the media portrays through shows like The Girls Next Door, insinuating what life is suppose to be like and what’s expected of people who live in this customary society. As Allan G. Johnson mentions in his article, Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us, “It’s about the standards of feminine beauty and masculine toughness, images of feminine vulnerability and masculine protectiveness, of older men coupled with younger women (1).” That being said, why is this ‘false advertisement’ called 'reality T.V.?'
Johnson, Allan G.. "Patriarchy, The System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us." The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchy Legacy (1997): 91-99.
picture derived from: http://dvd.monstersandcritics.com/reviews/article_1186197.php/DVD_Review_The_Girls_Next_Door_%96_The_Complete_First_Season