Oy Vey! Has Television Depiction Really Come a Long Way? a Content Analysis of Jewish Depiction on Television
Mandell, Lyric L.
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The use of stereotypes against Jews is rooted in the false notion that they have distinguishing physical features, but also distinctive personality traits that tend to set them apart from the idealized Aryan persona (Byers & Kreiger, 2005). Stereotypes are not cultivated through personal experiences, rather they are perpetuated through media, and both malevolent and benign stereotypes can have pernicious effects on how the stereotyped community is viewed (Stember, 1966). A significant amount of stereotyping in the media studies place focus on racial and ethnic minorities, however, this study examines an understudied minority group in the media—the Jewish community. Further, little research has explored the power of streaming and the use of stereotypes within streaming content despite the shift steaming has brought in viewing demographics and behaviors (Li et al., 2015). With this in mind, this thesis employs a content analysis critically comparing comedies and dramas within streaming shows The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Man in The High Castle, and broadcast shows Friends and Grey’s Anatomy, in order to understand how Jewish stereotypes, differ between platforms, genres, and scene tones. It was found that Jewish stereotypes are significantly more common in comedies, and in scenes with a humorous tone. While there is not a significant difference of overall use of stereotypes in streaming and broadcast networks, there is a significant difference in types of stereotypes used within varying platforms. This thesis contributes to media stereotyping scholarship by demonstrating that the same patterns of marginalization via humor applies to a group that is both a religious and ethnic minority, in this case, the stereotyping of Jewish people. In addition, it was found that the Jewish community is subject to the same power structures as other minority groups, in which media continues to reinforce and perpetuate stereotypical narratives of the community.