Black Masculinity and White-Cast Sitcoms : Unraveling stereotypes in New Girl

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Tema Genus

Abstract: For decades, situational comedies — commonly named “sitcoms” — have been racially segregated on TV between Black-cast sitcoms and White-cast sitcoms. Extensive research has been led about representation of Black and White masculinities in this segregated context. This master thesis studies what happens when White and Black males are equally casted as main characters in contemporary sitcoms by offering a case-study of the 2011 sitcom New Girl (2011-2017). How is Black masculinity represented in New Girl, and in which ways does it intersect with contemporary societal issues (e.g. racial profiling, Black Lives Matter movement)? This case-study uses tools, methodologies and concepts, drawn from Black and Intersectional feminism as well as Feminist media studies. Based on a 25 episodes sample of the show, it implements Ronald Jackson’s traditional stereotypes classification and “Black masculine identity theory” (Jackson, 2006) to study representations of Black masculinity in New Girl, through its two main Black male characters, Winston and Coach. Given that representations of minorities in popular culture reflect and influence our contemporary society, the results offer new insights about how sitcoms, series and popculture productions in general can challenge traditional stereotypes and display a more progressive Black masculinity.

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