'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Big Bang Theory' Promote Gender Stereotypes


Penny, Bernadette, Gloria, and Max are only some of the names of the girls on the top-rated prime time TV shows. Whether you are a fan of Big Bang Theory or Modern Family, we all enjoy the quirky and flawed characters. But have you ever noticed that the female characters on these shows are either unemployed or struggling, whereas the male characters are professionally accomplished?

The lack of successful female characters in prime time television is an inaccurate reflection of our society.

In most top-rated TV shows, the male characters are much more accomplished and are further along in their careers than females. For example, in the show "How I Met Your Mother," Ted Mosby is a successful young architect, Barney Stinson works at Goliath National Bank, and Marshall Eriksen is a Columbia Law School Graduate working for a top law firm in New York City. But the two lead female characters are Robin Scherbatsky, a struggling news anchor, and Lily Aldrin, an artist who opted to become a kindergarten teacher to help pay the bills.

The same character dynamic is at play in "Modern Family" and "Big Bang Theory." Even the new smash-hit this season, "Two Broke Girls," rides on the success of the female characters trying to make ends meet.

It is kind of eerie that there is not one strong female character in any of these sitcoms. The most accomplished women characters are in the "Big Bang Theory," but they still lack academically and professionally in comparison to the male characters on the show. Bernadette is a microbiologist, but she still had to work as a part-time waitress to get through school. Her fiancé on the show is an aerospace engineer.

Prime-time television needs more strong and professionally accomplished women characters. Most shows are successful because they are relatable and have characters that we all hope to be like one day. It seems like wealth and success comes easily to all the male characters in the shows we love to watch. Currently, the women in popular sitcoms are not made of role model material. Most of us would love to have a lifestyle like Barney Stinson, but none of us would ever say the same about Lily or Robin.

The lack of a strong female presence on these shows is not reflective of the current social situation in the United States. More women are putting their professional careers first over their family lives, and currently more women are enrolled in college and graduate studies than men.

The bottom line is, we need better female characters on television. While we are beginning to see the rise of strong female protagonists in film (like in The Hunger Games), there is a void that needs to be overcome on prime-time television. Hopefully, in the TV season to come we will see a show with an inspiring, wealthy, and professionally accomplished female.