Compare how the Representation of Characters in Men Behaving Badly and Frasier reveal issues of gender

Both of these sitcoms are studio based, around 30 minutes and incorporate stereotypical characters. The fundamental difference between the two is that Men Behaving Badly is British, which is usually written by individuals or pairs and built around males who constantly aspire to be better but constantly fail. Frasier on the other hand id written by a team of US writers and particularly seems to concentrate on funny women or in this case funny men who have feminine characteristics. The funny women, although present in British sitcoms, act more as support.

 

In MBB the opening credits reveals a lot about the gulf between the sexes. We see Tony and Gary fooling around, and drinking and the girls looking ashamed and embarrassed by them. This shows them to be very childish and immature. From Gary’s apartment it is also clear from the posters of red cars, nodding dogs, dartboard etc that this is the apartment of a male living alone or with another male as there is nothing feminine.

 

In the dinner Party episode Gary has just been dumped by Dorothy and we first see them in serious discussion bringing their relationship to an end. Symbolically Gary is then dumped on twice by a pigeon, this is important as it brings humour into the conversation that the two of them are having and also shows how Gary is feeling – unlucky. Gary is also shown in this episode to be very bitter and jealous. He tries to outdo Dorothy’s new boyfriend which shows the competitiveness of male characters. When Gary learns that Dorothy’s new boyfriend owns a Harley Davidson his competitiveness is revealed as the camera pans to see Gary snigger,” A Harley Davidson”. Gary goes to Debs for advice, who suggests that Gary go out and meet new people. He shows his insecurities and lack of independence when he replies, “Meet new people, good idea….how do i do that then?” When she states that Gary will need time to prepare for a dinner party it is a challenge to his masculinity competitiveness so he decides to compete with hers.

 

In this episode we also see how Tony lets Gary down. First of all he is not tactful with his words and comforting Gary about losing Dorothy “Never mind mate, he’s probably just better with his knob.” Tony also fails to attend Gary’s revenge dinner party as he is preoccupied with his girlfriend. Only when he gets dumped does he finally find Gary and joins him in his drunken state. During the dinner parties of Gray and debs who is also throwing one, the editing allows the audience to compare the two. This again creates a difference between the genders. Gary who has a beer mug as his candle holder and a bed sheet as his table sloth is contrasted dramatically to Debs soft lighting and crystal glasses.

 

In this episode then Tony has a girlfriend and Gary does not but equilibrium is restored by the end when Tony also gets dumped and the two are once again single. It ends with them both singing the “wanker” song. Tony refuses to give up his stash of

 

Pornography at the expense of his girlfriend this shows him as shallow and his inability to understand women. His defence to his girlfriend why he wants to keep the Magazine is “But she’s naked!”

 

The male persona is created largely in MBB by the humour which is slapstick and the use of verbal humour ‘knob’, ‘wanker’ etc. Visual gags are also used cleverly when Tony cleans a class on his shirt and the camera angle makes it look mush ruder!

 

“Frasier” on the other hand contrasts greatly with MBB. The men are portrayed as very successful, both having good jobs and immaculate apartment. Like Gary and Tony who are very similar in MBB – unsuccessful in love and work, Niles and Frasier are also alike. They dress similarly and share the same profession and lifestyle. They both fail to conform to any stereotypes and both adopt feminine characteristics. A number of episodes rely on the tensions created by father and son to make their points about masculinity. Martin Crane cannot understand how he produced two sons like Niles and Frasier.

 

The cranes are interested in fine foods and unlike Gary enjoy and succeed in throwing dinner parties on a regular basis. When Niles tells Frasier that Daphne will be cooking the food, Frasier is shown to be very hurt and annoyed with Niles that he will not be included and cannot stand the fact that he will be “just a guest” so refuses to go. This shows Frasier to be very moody and stubborn to characteristics more commonly associated with women. When the dinner party goes wrong and Frasier has to come to the rescue he has already prepared food which shows his doubt in Daphne. He offers to help with anyone knowing though, which shows the audience that he genuinely wants to be involved and cook his “signature sauce”.

 

In this episode Martin is able to criticize Niles’ artwork as he is mistaken for a famous painter. Martin enjoys his revenge on his pretensions of his son, “You have to believe me, cos I’m a fancy ass painter.” High farce is created in this episode as we have an establishing shot of the kitchen and characters constantly coming in the two doors with Frasier and Martin trying to avoid Niles. Niles is banned from the kitchen by Daphne which shows her control and dominance. Daphne is also shown at the beginning to deal firmly with the workman while Niles sits back on a chair in sheer amazement. The women in Frasier are in the more subservient jobs, and whilst stronger in many ways are also financially and professionally less of a threat.

 

A great deal of the humour in Frasier is the fact that the know their failure of being very feminine. Verbal humour is again used is again used when Frasier says his signature sauce will be “reduced to a monogram, I’m using humour!” The fact that both the males characters are presented as wimps and the use of one-liners.

 


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