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The Theme of Gender in the Family TV Show


If one thinks about the theme of gender in the modern family TV shows, it becomes clear that they transmit and promote new female stereotypes. Taking into account that women are the major viewers of family TV shows, it is possible to say that the media is introducing and imposing the modern female values and behavior. From the point of view of psychology, for women, watching TV shows is a source of positive emotions and illusionary experiences they lack in their real lives. Women follow the lives of female characters they have always dreamed of but could not have, engage into romantic experiences with men they could never attract, and render power, wisdom, and independence that they failed to gain. Women see an ideal life and a female character that has been blessed with such life. This is the link that allows the media to carry the desire of living a model life being a model woman. Women learn not only to dress and work out like their favorite heroines, but also change their psyche to adopt new thinking and behavioral patterns. This paper will explore the theme of gender on the example of Katherine Beckett from the ABC family TV show “Castle”. Katherine Beckett fulfills the stereotypical gender role of an ideal modern woman that embodies a combination of immaculate looks, strong character, successful career, and exciting relationships.

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With her hair always perfectly done and low-key make-up on, Keith follows a modern trend of women, who care about their looks. A detective with the Homicide Division of the New York City Police Department, she always appears in perfectly tailored trouser suits, shirts, or polo-necks. She tops it with classy coats of reserved cutting and colors. She emphasizes her femininity by always wearing high heels. In less official circumstances, she can afford jeans and T-shirts. Only on several occasions, Kate flaunts her athletic physique in slinky and revealing evening dresses. In  past, she had some modeling experience. She is a modern woman, who always looks well  without being provocative.

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Outward beauty and style soften Kate’s independent character, courage, penetrating mind, and masculine perseverance. She is capable of directing the natural feminine passion and extraordinary strength of her character to be great at her job. This characterizes her as a person prone to a masculine lifestyle. We never see her depressed, hysterical, absent-minded, lost, or overwhelmed by circumstances as revealing these pointedly feminine weaknesses would not be consistent with her will power. In the final episode of the 1st season, her professional associate Richard Castle notes that “most people come up against a wall, they give up. Not you. You don’t let go. You don’t back down. That makes you extraordinary.” Kate’s pragmatic and meticulous approach to investigation is asserted every time she untangles a complex crime: “I am just following the evidence wherever it may lead, and as a cop, I’m going to consider every possible worldly explanation” (Season 4, Episode 6). However, Kate’s image is also lively and natural as we see her enjoying her developing relations with Castle “I have a hard job, Castle, and having you around makes it a little more fun” (Season 2, Episode 13). Kate’s character makes her perfectly fit a traditionally male job of a detective.

Kate is pursuing a remarkable career, which she has earned due to “the power of a woman on a mission” (Season 3, Episode 20). In the 1st episode of the 1st season, Castle recognizes her elite upbringing: “you're not bridge-and-tunnel. No trace of the boroughs when you talk. So that means Manhattan. That means money. You went to college, probably a pretty good one. You had options. Yeah, you had a lot of options, more socially acceptable options.” However, only by the end of the 4th season, we learn that Kate studied law at Stanford and cherished a dream of becoming the first female Chief Justice (Season 4, Episode 18). These dreams were not destined to become true, because, at the age of 16, Kate had to recover from the shock of her mother’s murder and save her father from alcoholism. This experience forced her to grow up early and magnified her sense of responsibility, ability to take charge, and desire to save other people. As a Homicide Detective, she received recognition and respect of her male subordinates and praise of her command. A truly significant recognition of her professionalism was her promotion as the U.S. Attorney General's office agent (Season 6).

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Unlike the manly characters of the 80-90s, Kate Beckett is neither a loner nor a woman of easy virtue. It took her 4 years to embark on a serious relationship with Castle and another two years to accept his marriage proposal. It is clear that she is not crazy about her fiancé but conscious and rational about their partnership. She was looking for a man she could believe in, and she found him. Her wisdom tells her that “that the thing that attracts you to a person always ends up being that thing that just drives you crazy. I just wish that I had someone, who would be there for me, and I could be there for him, and we could just dive into it together” (Season 3, Episode 16). At the same time, Kate’s complex personality, intellectual superiority, and beauty made Castle fall head over heals in love with her at first sight when he thought that Kate was “a mystery that I was never gonna solve”, and constantly remain “amazed by the depths of your strength, your heart and your hotness” (Season 3, Episode 23). Any female viewer dreams of a man fancying her “the most remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating, person I’ve ever met” just like Castle feels about Kate (Season 4, Episode 23).

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