TheDevelopment of Stereotypes in the Media: A Case of DeviousMaidsand Janethe Virgin
TheDevelopment of Stereotypes in the Media: A Case of Devious Maids andJane the Virgin
Themedia often use typecasts to shape certain characters and situations.The media has become an important element in the contemporarysociety thus, its impact on people’s lives is unparalleled. It hasextensively influenced people’s thoughts, perceptions, and handlingof significant and contemporary situations especially due to itspervasive and frequent exposure to the society (Scharrer &Ramasubramanian, 2015). However, the media has also negativelyinfluenced people by allowing them to practice what is aired intelevisions. For example, the under-representation of the Latinocommunity in important matters or their illustration as a weakercommunity in the media has extended to the societies where thecommunity has faced prejudice and stereotyping innuendos. Thus, it isimperative to scrutinize DeviousMaidsand Janethe Virginto understand the media’s influence on stereotypes.
DeviousMaidsis a TV comedy-play series created by Marc Cherry for ABC studios,USA (Cherry, 2013). The TV series primarily revolves around Latinahouse helps: Carmen, Marisol, Rosie, and Zoila, who work for some ofthe powerful and wealthiest homes in Beverly Hills. Throughout theseries, typecast becomes an important facet of the development ofcharacters and themes. In fact, the images of culture and populationare portrayed in a stereotypical manner. For instance, some of thestereotypes that are reinforced basically imply that Latinos can onlybe sexy/spicy, maids, illegal, with thick accents, and uneducated(Cherry, 2013). On the other hand, Janethe Virginis a romantic, satirical, and a comedy-drama TV series produced byJennie Snyder Urman. The drama has a predominantly Latino cast andits attributes are similar to the Venezuelan telenovela where theLatino community is depicted as educated, sexy, and influential. Theseries portrays the complexities of its characters, as well as, theaspects of the Latino culture. Unlike DeviousMaids,Janethe Virgindoes not contain stereotypical aspects towards the Latinos.
DeviousMaidsis based loosely on the Mexican Telenovela, “Ellasson la Alegria del Hogar.”Immediately after it was released, the series received negativecriticism from the Latino community who accused it of spreadingstereotypical attitudes, as it showed that Latinos could only worksuccessfully as maids, nannies, and gardeners. Differences in cultureare portrayed through imageries and dialogues exchanged between theLatinos and the Whites. Viewers are able to see how value judgment iscultivated, as well as, how people can change objective informationto fit their stereotypical mindsets. An employer scolds her Latinohouse help by telling her that she cleans laundry she cannot affordand polishes a silver shill that she will never use to dine on. Thisexchange shows that the media depicts the Latino community as onlybetter in house affairs and discredits their worth in other affairssuch as wealth. High levels of stereotypical attitudes tend to affectthe way people from different communities and ethnic groupscommunicate and interact with each other (Scharrer &Ramasubramanian, 2015). Whereas it is not wrong for a person to beemployed as a house help, TV series that put emphasis on the role ofLatinos as maids are stereotypical in nature.
InJanethe Virgin,all the main roles are played by people of color (Latinos) while thewhite people only play the less important and supporting roles. TheLatin culture tends to permeate the entire episode with a vast amountof Meta discussion concerning telenovelas, especially as promoted byAbuela Alba who only speaks Spanish (Urman, 2014). Several aspects ofgender are portrayed in the comedy with the objective and factualinformation bringing out diverse messages. For examples, the presenceof LGBT characters is clearly displayed although theirnon-heterosexuality nature is rarely remarked on, apart from the timethey are with their lovers (Urman, 2014). Although the TV series doesnot have stereotypical aspects, there is a presentation of distortedissues. For instance, a bisexual and lesbian couple decide to have anaffair, which is treated on the show in the exact similar manner asthe opposite-sex affairs instead of as an oddity. The program impactson the cultural identity of the audience and enables a person to makea comparison of the way the Latino people and their culture aretreated.
BothDeviousMaidsand Janethe Virginhave huge levels of similarities and a number of differences. First,both programs were loosely adapted from Telenovelas and mainly focuson the Latino community. However, DeviousMaidsis stereotypical in nature as it fails to portray the true aspects ofLatino culture and lifestyle. For instance, it only portrays Latinopeople as maids, gardeners, and nannies. Although there is nothingwrong with being a maid or a nanny, the overstatement and thestereotyping of Latinos as maids and nannies in the media is wrong.Unlike DeviousMaids,Janethe Virginis a progressive program that displays the true nature and charactersof different people. For example, the bold and active virgin who wasinseminated by mistake and got pregnant and the LGBT characters whoare likened to heterosexual people.
Inconclusion, this paper has critically analyzed the way the media usesits powers to spread stereotypical information about different ethnicgroups. DeviousMaidsand Janethe Virginare two programs whose characters are predominantly Latino. In thefirst program, the media stereotypes on Latinos by showing that theycan only work as maids and nannies. However, the second program ismuch more progressive and avoids stereotypical issues. For instance,it shows that LGBT people are not different from heterosexual people.Therefore, whenever, they have an affair, they should be treated in asimilar manner as heterosexual individuals are treated.
Cherry,M. (Creator). (2013). DeviousMaids [TVSeries]. USA: ABC.
Scharrer,E., & Ramasubramanian, S. (2015). Intervening in the media’sinfluence on stereotypes of race and ethnicity: the role of medialiteracy education. Journalof Social Issues, 71(1):171—185.
Urman,J. S. (Creator). (2014). Janethe Virgin [TVSeries]. USA: The CW.