I’ve been struggling with choosing a paper topic for quite a while. My initial thought was that I wanted to do something related to gender, since that’s the topic I’m most passionate about. I also considered something related to sexuality as well, because I think gay culture is often misrepresented in media. There was nothing really screaming out to me though that I would be interested in researching.
After going back to the drawing board a few times, I had a miniature “Eureka!” moment while doing some homework with my best friend Ben. We put HGTV on in the background and it made me remember a thought I had a long time ago about how obnoxious the blatant heteronormativity/gender norms are in shows like House Hunters. Comments from women like “oh, well this closet should be big enough for *my* clothes, sorry husband!” or “maybe this could become a *nursery* someday, right honey?” as the husband rolls his eyes. Such comments are only the beginning; HGTV is littered with people who embody the stereotypes perpetuated by society. The men seem to be the only ones concerned with finances, while the wife is willing to spend frivolously in order to have the “prettier” home. The men also are often very persistent about having a “man cave” they can escape their families from. Plus, whenever women get the chance to use power tools, like in the show Property Brothers, it is portrayed as some sort of miracle, while men using power tools is portrayed as natural.
Another thing I’ve noticed from watching HGTV for any extended period of time is that the people on the shows are usually the exact same. I don’t know the exact figures at this point, but I’d venture that at least 70% of the homebuyers/owners on the network are white and heterosexual. If they do happen to feature an LGBTQ+ couple, they are almost always gay men who play the heterosexual roles: one is more masculine and the other is more flamboyant. And of course, white. Even on shows like House Hunters International, there are more white homebuyers featured than there are homebuyers from the respective country.
I could go on and on about the problems of HGTV, because there are obviously quite lot of them, but I wouldn’t have enough pages to explain it all. Therefore, I need to condense! I’m thinking that I should focus on one or two shows, probably House Hunters and Property Brothers because I’ve seen them the most and they are on frequently. From each show I’ll keep track of the homebuyers demographics and how they behave/speak. Then, I’ll compile the data to see if any trends emerge. Based on what I’ve seen when watching these shows on my own time, I’m predicting that I will see many gender norms come to life, and that there will be a huge lack of diversity.