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Primetime TV Shows and Gender Portrayals

Television is considered to be a significant socializing agent being an integral part of the gender identity arena. TV shows and advertising use gender portrayal for the purpose of direct influence on the target audience; the reasons for such situation depend on the strategies of commercials’ promotion and development. Primetime television development moved slowly from males’ portrayal in the mid-XX century to the females’ one in the modern world. The analysis of advertising accompanying primetime dramas and other TV programs can be demonstrated from the theory of gender portrayal developed by Stephen Craig showing that women’s and men’s role in modern television is quite influential expressed through basic factors such as target audience and daytime.

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Modern TV programs accompanied by advertising are concentrated on gender portrayal. Stephen Craig contributed to the study of gender portrayals analyzing this aspect in accordance with television commercials activities. It was found out that during primetime gender portrayals differ from those presented in commercial TV shows on weekends or daytime. It can be explained by the fact that females are merely demonstrated as a part of authority while men are considered to be portrayed in homes in the role of parents. Craig stated that primetime refers to marked categories due to the fact that such TV shows do not overuse the concept of gender stereotypes. Nevertheless, taking into account advertising it is necessary to underline that the gender portrayals are balanced during primetime shows. This aspect can be analyzed from the point of view of gender portrayals categories developed by Craig.

  • Men’s men;
  • Men’s women;
  • Women’s women;
  • Women’s men. (Craig, 1992)

Advertising is usually aimed at the promotion of values in accordance with gender differences. The analysis of TV programs being not so much focused on gender overtly is closely connected with the role of advertizing accompanying such shows.

Advertisements’ gender portrayals are concentrated on different presentations of men and women. Taking into account the categorization provided by Craig it should be stressed that the aspects of men’s women and women’s women are predominantly expressed. Advertising campaigns and commercials aimed at the promotion of their products during primetime are focused on the style designed for women; so it is usually fulfilled through the categories of men and women portrayal. The analysis of major TV programs has shown that such strategies are used in accordance with the part of the day and the audience they are aimed at. (Craig, 1992)

Gender portrayal is an integral part of advertisements and TV programs in general. The most important aspect of gender category expression depends on the target audience chosen by the commercials. Primetime programs show that women are considered to be centralized by advertisers because of the fact that they are the principal purchasers according to the marketing surveys. Popular TV programs, for example, presented by CNN, are to demonstrate gender portrayal through females and their role; especially it can be observed at primetime. The fact is that it is necessary to match the product with the definite time for the purpose of making gender portrayal match the necessary audience. (Hooper, 2008)

Craig managed to prove that advertisements during primetime programs can be regarded as one of the principal elements in the research and study of gender portrayals. Television commercials merely make use of gender portrayal through women’s presentation as the target audience. For example, Procter and Gamble Company refers to the so-called “women’s television”; various soap operas and primetime programs are usually accompanied by the advertising of this company producing goods being popular among the women.

There is a tendency to believe that commercials are not concentrated on gender portrayal though it was proved that the aspect under analysis is an integral part of the successful advertising campaign. In the case of primetime dramas examination, it should be noted that at the early stages of its development one could observe the domination of males portrayal; thus, Wagon Train or the show of Star Trek have aimed the men’s audience portraying predominantly male characters. At the end of the XX century, the situation rapidly changed and women’s portrayal was the basic element of advertisements. (Desjardins, 1994)

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So, the analysis of TV shows and advertising has shown that modern television is predominantly concentrated on gender portrayal as it helps to find contact and influence the target audience in the simplest way. Considering Craig’s categories of gender portrayal it was proved that such issues as men’s women and women’s women are the basic in the presentation of the primetime program. The success of the commercials is closely connected with the clearly identified purpose of goods promotion which helps to work out the necessary strategies and select appropriate gender characters impacting the audience. Cultural development resulted in the establishment of television’s significant role in society; commercials make use nongender primetime shows accompanying them by advertising expressed through gender portrayal.


Craig, S. Men’s Men and Women’s Women: How TV Commercials Portray Gender to different Audiences. Capstone Publishers, 1992.

Craig, S. The Effect of Television Day Part on Gender Portrayals in Television Commercials: Sex Roles. 1992.

Craig, S. Selling Masculinities, Selling Femininities: Multiple Genders and the Economic of Television. The Mid-Atlantic Almanack, Vol.2, 1992.

Hooper, Valerie. Portrayals of Gender in Television Commercials and the Effects on Achievement Aspirations of Audiences. Rough Draft, 2008.

Desjardins, Mary. Gender and Television. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 1994.

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