Advanced search

Scrubs and Sexism

(40 Posts)
LLKH Thu 21-Apr-11 14:14:58

I have a four and a half month old daughter and ever since she was born, I have been lurking on the feminism board. I've learned a lot and been very relieved to find that some of the things I thought weren't true at all; specifically, that you can't be a feminist and a SAHM.
Knowing that you can be both has made me think a lot more which brings me to this post.

I used to love the television show Scrubs (up to series 6, after that it got far too soapy and I have Holby and Casualty if I want that wink), but I was thinking about various things that happen in different episodes(using the Jurassic Park glass shaking thing to describe the approach of a heavily pregnant woman) and I realised that it is actually incredibly sexist, almost bordering on misogynistic. This made me quite sad.

Has anyone else noticed this about any television shows, films, radio programs, books that they formerly loved? Would you tell me about them? And let me know if you agree with me about Scrubs.

AliceWorld Thu 21-Apr-11 14:42:42

Not seen Scrubs but with you on the whole sexism on TV etc thing. Have you heard of the Bechdel test? It frankly ruins anything you watch as most things on the TV fail it I find.

melpomene Thu 21-Apr-11 14:53:22

I'm not sure if I would agree that Scrubs is misogynistic - it's a sitcom so obviously they are poking fun at everybody. Carla is a fantastic and strong character from what I remember. Another nurse, Laverne, was large and I can't remember her weight ever being made an issue. Another thing I like is the way they portray inter-racial friendship and an inter-racial longterm relationship/marriage - few sitcoms or dramas do this.

Do you have any more examples of things that you think are sexist in it?

LLKH Thu 21-Apr-11 15:06:42

No, you're right. Misogynistic is going too far. Other things are bothering me at the moment so I tend towards hyperbole. Sorry.

As to other examples, in the episode where Turk has a bedtime again, there is a point where he and a bunch of other males are watching American football and Carla comes out to tell him it is bedtime. All the other males then make whip noises. So being considerate of your partner's sleeping habits is to be unmanly and whipped?

However, there are indeed a lot of good things about Scrubs as you mention. That was another reason I posted: to remind myself of its good points. So thank you.

I think it does pass the Bechdel test, actually.

Also, if it takes me a bit to reply to things, it's because DD is demanding attention.

Saltatrix Thu 21-Apr-11 15:08:11

Scrubs aim is to make fun of everyone in a light hearted way

LLKH Thu 21-Apr-11 15:13:54

Maybe it isn't so much Scrubs itself as what it highlights that bothers me.

FWIW, I'm not totally humourless; I think JD's fantasies are hilarious as is his ongoing war with the Janitor.

socka Thu 21-Apr-11 15:18:23

I like scrubs but one episode, the Janitors wedding I think, irked me. Carla had left the baby for the first time and was wearing big swimming costume and cover up on the beach while Elliot and er the woman from Cougar Town had starved and lipo-ed themselves in tiny bikinis. Turk kept trying to get Carla into bed but she kept ringing home to check the baby. She does a pretty good speech about it all, how hard it is to juggle etc I think. However she soon comes to her senses, gets the bikini on and does her wifely bedroom duty. hmm

Bumperlicioso Thu 21-Apr-11 15:30:00

I love scrubs, but I know what you mean. I've been watching the Big Bang Theory, which I also love, but wondering if it is a bit sexist. At first the only girl was a ditzy blonde, friends with 4 smart guys. However there are now more girls, and tbh the girls tend to come of better than the blokes, usually have the upper hand. And it's true that sitcoms tend to take the piss out of everyone and use stereotypes for comic effect rather than using them as normality.

BelleCurve Thu 21-Apr-11 16:35:47

I used to love Scrubs, but the last series definitely got more sexist (and less funny - coincidence?)

The sit-com I really struggle with is "how I met your mother" -which is a setup about a group of friends, similar to Friends but the way they talk about the women that one of the group sleeps with is just repulsive.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 21-Apr-11 16:39:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

melpomene Thu 21-Apr-11 16:42:49

I just remembered that there's also the way that Dr Cox tries to humiliate JD by calling him female names - though I think in those scenes the viewer is supposed to be on JD's side and thinking that Dr Cox is being overbearing and annoying; it's not quite as simple as saying "Ha ha, JD is feminine and that's not good."

And JD drinking appletinis is played for laughs - I must admit that I do find that funny.

SueSylvesterforPM Thu 21-Apr-11 20:35:25


I like the episode where they went on a course for S harrasment, the todd is a figure of ridicule so maybe there making fun of these sort of people??

TeddyMcardle Thu 21-Apr-11 20:40:43

I used to like scrubs, but now when I see the odd rerun (my little sister likes it, she's 12) I think it was always pretty crap.

pregnantpause Thu 21-Apr-11 20:44:16

socka- I saw that episode and cried- at the time I was 8 weeks postnatal and feeling under pressure to lose weight and feeling inadequate in the bedroom. It really is a negative message to give to women!
Another episode focuses on jds not seeing married women. As though women are only worth socializing with if there is sexual potential. I think thats a fairly offensive concept tbh.

TeddyMcardle Thu 21-Apr-11 21:08:43

I remember that one with JD, also the one where the women want their own changing rooms and to illustrate how exposed they feel Elliot is made to do a burlesque type dance in front of the jeering male doctors, with JD standing by. Elliot's character constantly undressing no matter what the pretext pissed me off.

NikkiMidcap Wed 31-Aug-11 23:06:15

Honestly, this is thread is, in itself, so ironic.

One of my pet peeves is when people are arrogant about something they have no idea about. Arrogant ignorance.

Scrubs, which is just one of hundreds of other television shows, movies, commercials, etc., that always, ALWAYS makes the man out to be the one at fault.

You all sit here and talk about misogony...if anything, almost all of Scrubs' episodes have some kind of misandrist-based plot or side-stories.

Now, being a long-time Scrubs fan, I've watched the series start to finish. And while I can agree with a good portion of what you are all saying, I just refuse to go along with this entire Feminist-driven accusation that Scrubs has some kind of underlying sexist theme.

A lot of what I've read on this thread is that women are always being portrayed as sex icons on the show, if they're not just stripping down on the spot. As far as the character of Todd goes, yes, you are all 100% correct.

But look at Carla, Jordan, even Elliot at times. They are all portrayed as these intelligent, burdened women because they have to deal with their so much less intelligent husbands, if not just the men in the hospital in general.

Feminists today are so very, very ignorant. And arrogant about it, too. Yes, misogony exists is just about everything on television. And you all just can't wait to pounce on the person responsible - as long as it's a man, it seems. And yet, you're all silent when this kind of blatant misandry is broadcast. why?

Greythorne Wed 31-Aug-11 23:11:03

Thank you so much for (a) resurrecting this thread and (b) your thoughtful contribution.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Wed 31-Aug-11 23:42:35


OK, lets see.

Remember when Elliot was dating Paul, the male nurse? She was uncomfortable with the relationship initially because she felt she couldn't date a man in a lower position than her. Thus reinforcing the belief that the man should be in at least an equal position to the woman, preferably superior.

Elliot's portrayal switched between a little girl, lost, who needed protecting from the big, scary world, and being someone who didn't pay much attention to whose feelings she was trampling over.

Carla had been stuck in the position of "nurse" for nine years. It wasn't until Turk came along that she was able to enrol on a training course so she could administer medicines, and give her more authority in the hospital. Because us women need men to finance us if we are going to improve...

Kim lied about having miscarried or aborted JD's baby. Seeing as us women are cold and callous like that.

In the episode where Kelso demands Elliot removes her make up and starts acting proffessional, the janitor tells Kelso that he enjoys seeing Elliot like that (make up, etc...). Seeing as, y'know, she's not there to do anything important like save lives... Just provide eye candy for the male members of staff.

Cox frequently belittles JD by calling him girls names. Because, y'know. That's the worst insult you can give a man. Compare him to a female. hmm

And the Janitor's wedding episode has been pointed out.

All of the characters (except The Todd) were consistently in relationships, reaffirming the idea that you can only be truly happy when in love, and singledom makes you miserable and lonely, etc...

A few things the show did get right, though.

Most of the regular female characters were portrayed as strong, independent women.

Elliot was shown as being JD's equal through most of the series. They even got promoted at the same time, if I remember correctly, with Elliot getting the majority of the power?

I also felt "Cookie Pants" was quite an important episode. Elliot was willing to let JD see her in her "cookie pants" and sans make up (I think), something she felt was unattractive, and he said something along the lines of how she looked even more beautiful than ever... Not hunting the episode out this time of night, but I'll double check...

We also saw quite a bit of Cox, JD and Turk caring for their DC, while their wives/partners carried on their careers. This, to me, reaffirmed the message that children were equal responsibility between two responsible parents, and promoted the idea of men caring for DC as being a good thing.

I may have to rewatch the box set, in my cookie pants, with a tub of Ben and Jerry's. All in the name of research, y'know? grin

ComradeJing Thu 01-Sep-11 02:47:39

Great post Frothy.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Thu 01-Sep-11 09:41:41

Thanks, Comrade grin

Might do an episode by episode analysis one day...

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 01-Sep-11 10:03:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Thu 01-Sep-11 10:11:40

You may! grin

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 01-Sep-11 10:17:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mayorquimby Thu 01-Sep-11 10:22:49

"Carla had been stuck in the position of "nurse" for nine years. It wasn't until Turk came along that she was able to enrol on a training course so she could administer medicines, and give her more authority in the hospital. Because us women need men to finance us if we are going to improve"

Actually Carla gave him a bollicking for thinking just that and pointed out that she hadn't remained a nurse for 9 years simply because no man had pointed out to her that she could gain further qualifications, that she had done so because she liked her job.

"Remember when Elliot was dating Paul, the male nurse? She was uncomfortable with the relationship initially because she felt she couldn't date a man in a lower position than her. Thus reinforcing the belief that the man should be in at least an equal position to the woman, preferably superior. "

Surely this is addressing this issue and dealing with it rather than reinforcing it? Been a while since I've seen the earlier series but how did the relationship end? did they break up due to the different positions or did she accept him and later break up for another reason?

tabulahrasa Thu 01-Sep-11 10:26:42

Frothy - the carla training one, doesn't she make that exact point to him in the episode? That she's not a nurse because she needs him to help her, but because she loves it and is good at it.

That's how I remember it going anyway.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: