3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

Author Image

Meleah Hartnett Photo


Chicago Style, American culture, American Studies, English, WGST, Writing


Overview: I have been a loyal viewer of the hit sitcom, That ‘70s Show, for years. In total, I have probably watched the entire series two or three times. However, it was not until recently that it struck me how sexist the show was. Upon first watching That ‘70s Show, I thought it was a surface-level sitcom celebrating the colorful and hazy 1970s. After rewatching and evaluating the stances presented in multiple episodes, however, I see that it is more representative of society’s view on women than I originally thought. I believe that both the subtle and obvious sexism in That ‘70s Show, which is shown throughout the entire series, is an accurate representation of the time period the show is based on and made in, but many of the viewers, including myself, overlook the problematic nature of the show because it is shown in a light hearted and joking manner.

Author's Reflection: My name is Meleah Hartnett, and I am a Media and Communication major here at St. John Fisher College. I minor in Film and TV Studies. My research paper focuses on the sexism shown in That ‘70s Show. I wrote about That ‘70s Show because it has been a favorite of my family’s for years; we actually have the box set of all of the seasons on DVD. I was rewatching it, for probably the third time, when I was deciding what I wanted my 199 research project to be, and finally caught on to the sexist undertones of the show. The process of writing this paper was more enjoyable than I anticipated it would be, probably because the majority of my research involved watching a show. A challenging aspect of the process was finding perfect moments in the show to illustrate my point. There were plenty of sexist scenes to choose from, but I wanted ones that had a punch to them. It was also very time consuming. When it came to writing, I found it difficult to focus on a few major topics. Once I started looking for issues in the show, it was hard to stop. Originally, I was going to also discuss the issue of race and racism in my paper, but my professor advised me to narrow my focus. The 199 experience has helped me grow comfortable with writing in a more structured form. I have always loved writing, but had never found it enjoyable to write in a research-based writing style. This class taught me that there could be just as much freedom and creativity in this style of writing as creative writing. The intimidation of writing in such a long form has also lessened after taking this class.

Professor Styrt's Reflection: Meleah was a very focused student. She grasped the course’s emphasis on how we depict other times quickly and went immediately to the topic of That ’70s Show. The most impressive element of her progress was her dogged pursuit of sources; as you can imagine, ’90s TV does not have a lot of scholarly material written on it yet, and so she had to rely extensively on primary documents mixed with her own cogent analysis. One of her main areas of work was on her counterargument, where she had to do a lot to portray the opposing voices carefully and fairly.

Additional Files

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