Compare how the representation of gender is constructed by the way character’s appearance and dialogue in your two chosen television programmes In comparing Men Behaving Badly and Absolutely Fabulous I will find both differences and similarities in gender construction. Absolutely Fabulous is heavily set towards extreme female stereotypes and the male characters are mainly weak, whereas in Men Behaving Badly the male characters are more dominant and their attitudes and relationships to the female characters is more obvious. In the Absolutely Fabulous episode Menopause, there are many stereotypes regarding women.
Through Edina we see the woman struggling to be a mother, have a career and delay the ageing progress. Edina wears clothes inappropriate to her age and applies a lot of vibrant coloured makeup to try and make herself appear youthful and fashionable which she miserable fails to do. Edwina’s language throughout the episode is far from the traditional stereotype of women being ladylike and polite. Edina is much the opposite, a very loud and flamboyant woman. This contributes much to her character as it emphasises her struggle to keep herself young and stylish.
In this particular episode we see Edina’s PR company failing to strive alongside the rival company, and it shows the viewers Edina’s desperate desire to become famous and popular, which gives reason to her appearance. Edina’s attitude of old age is revealed when Patsy, her best friend and the person she is most close to, shows signs of age. Edina shrieks in horror at Patsy’s weak bones, and insists the menopause support group sit on bin bags. Although these actions are extreme, viewers who also fear the problems ageing brings may relate to her panic. The role of Patsy is played even more raucous and brash then Edina.
Patsy’s character wears much more sophisticated clothes then Edina, although her make up is not as vibrant it is still thickly implied. This implies perhaps Patsy is just as scared of ageing as Edina, and her makeup is there to cover up tell-tale signs of ageing such as wrinkles and lines. In this episode Patsy appears in Edina’s daughters daydream, and in this we see Patsy acting the opposite of how she usually does. Patsy decides to have a baby, constantly wears an apron and speaks much more polite and quietly then her normal self. Through this opposite view of Patsy we get an idea of what her characteristics are normally.
Through her dialogue in this daydream we hear comments that imply Patsy has never had a maternal instinct before. In telling Edina of her decision to have a baby, Edina cries “But you don’t have ovaries! ” to which Patsy calmly replies “I do! They found them lodged up by my ribs were that silly Arab doctor put them! ” Patsy’s dialogue conveys a lot of information about her character to the audience. The way Patsy reacts to her easily broken wrist shows her denial at the seriousness of her condition, and her reluctance to go to the doctor shows deep down she knows she is ageing.
Patsy and Edina’s lifestyle is not that of responsible middle age women, at the very beginning of this episode we see the two of them using drugs and in their confusion mistaking a phone ringing for illogical things such as bees and shoes. The responsible character in the house is ironically Edina’s daughter Saffron. Saffron is a young university student and this group would normally be stereotyped as being careless, rebellious and wild, though in a reverse stereotype Saffron is in fact very sensible and intelligent! Saffron is dressed in smart trousers and a brown woolly pullover, has unruly hair and wears smart glasses.
These clothes are not the sort of fashion for a girl her age, and it emphasises her reversal on the normal student stereotype. It is amusing to the audience as the mother and daughter seem to take on each other’s normal stereotypical characteristics. Edina hanging out with her best friend taking drugs, and Saffron attempting to control her. In comparison, the male characters of Men Behaving Badly lack responsibility and this relates to Edina’s neglect of parental duty. Gary shows lack of responsibility in his relationship with Dorothy, as he can’t seem to decide whether to kick out his best friend Tony or his girlfriend.
As a thirty year old men it would seem obvious to choose Tony to leave, but the fact he debates over makes the scenario seem immature and amusing to the viewers. Gary is dressed smartly and although he runs a security company, he dresses his ageing employers in absurd security outfits which highlights his childish side. Gary talks in slang about Dorothy, referring to her as ‘his bird’ which shows he perhaps doesn’t respect her as a girlfriend quite as much as he should do at his age, as the term is more used with younger men as references to their new and latest conquest.
Gary seems to value his late night drinks with his ‘mate’ Tony so much he actually considers Dorothy second best to him, and the stress of their reactions causes him to have nightmares ending in tragedy over him, which is ironic since they both move out in the end! Tony’s character is much more ‘laddish’ then Gary as he seems much more lazy and careless. Tony has no job and spends the entire episode thinking of ways to get his female neighbour into bed, and then attempting to tattoo himself. His clothes are scruffy and look old and well worn and he doesn’t seem to make much effort with his appearance.
Tony is being stereotyped as what some people would perceive as a ‘normal man’, though perhaps more exaggerated than normal. His love of beer and his ‘mates’ make him fit the male pub crowd, his scruffy clothes and lack of interest in his appearance and his casual language and constant use of swearing is all seen as very manly. His attitude to Debs, his neighbour, is also a typical stereotype of men that only think about sex. Debs is a single, blonde attractive woman upstairs from the other three characters, and is constantly lusted after by Tony.
Deb’s clothes are fashionable and sophisticated and she acts very ladylike. Deb’s appearance shows she looks after herself and takes time with her makeup and clothes. Deb’s character contrasts with the characteristics of Dorothy, who simply rushes out of the door once she is dressed in her nurse’s uniform. Dorothy is dark haired and is in a relationship with Gary, Dorothy looks smart but doesn’t seem to bother much with her appearance and make up, which shows her relaxed attitude around Gary.
It highlights the idea that when women are single they make more effort with themselves, and it relates to Gary’s attitude to living with Dorothy. “Living with your bird is a bit like living at home with your parents. You have to keep your room tidy and you can’t put up the posters you want! ” Dorothy uses sarcasm around Gary, and it seems she is just as bored of him as he is of her. Dorothy does not seem to show much affection to Gary, when she addresses him she uses a flat tone with not much emotion in her voice. Through Dorothy’s dialogue the viewers can pick up on faults in their relationship and her attitudes to Gary.