Friday, September 8th, 2017 - 12:34 PM

An Idea to Increase Viewer Awareness of Gender Roles in Fiction

I recently enjoyed watching Marc Maron’s Netflix special, Too Real. As good entertainment should, it left me wanting more. I decided to watch Glow–another relatively new Netflix show with Marc Maron.

I haven’t finished watching the first episode yet, but in the first scene an actress is auditioning for a part. After she delivers a passionate speech, the casting person tells the actress that she has read the male part. The actress then then reads the female part which consists of “your wife is on line 2.” I found myself wondering what it would be like to apply that on a larger scale–select a script with traditional gender roles, cast women in the male roles, men in the female roles, and (with the exception of gender-specific pronouns/titles) leave the script unedited, and film it.

Maybe it’s been done, in which case I’d like to hear about it. I googled a little and the closest I found was a 70s soap opera spoof called All That Glitters where the premise was that females were the dominant gender in society. It was written with the gender reversal premise in mind, and (according to the Wikipedia article) it made heavy use of stereotypes and cliches. Not really the same thing.

My point is to call attention to gender role differences that we commonly overlook. It would be important that the script not be adjusted. It would also be interesting to film the whole thing twice–once with the characters cast as written, and once with genders reversed–then present the two versions back-to-back with the “normal” gender roles first. Ideally, viewers would view the first version without being aware that the gender-reversal was coming. I think that would give viewers an opportunity to experience a level of comfort with the story as written, then see how uncomfortable they were with the gender reversal.

It would be great if a popular series made an episode like that. It could catch regular viewers off guard.

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