Featured Video Play Icon

How Hollywood Misrepresents the Working Class

This episode of Decoded (an MTV News weekly web series where activist and comedian Francesca Ramsey looks at race and other social justice topics through the lens of popular culture) addresses the misrepresentation of the working class on TV. Gabe Gonzalez claims that the size of homes on TV shows like Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Friends, and Gilmore Girls create unrealistic expectations. However, earlier shows like The Honeymooners, All in the Family, and Roseanne all dealt with issues related to class and income and depicted realistic working class homes. Characters like Homer on The Simpsons or Doug on The King of Queens reinforce stereotypes that the working class is lazy, uninterested in education, and careless with money, despite the fact that class mobility has been decreasing for decades. Today shows like Broke Girls impact our perception of class. Studies show that by the age of twelve kids have developed concrete ideas about class difference, and that, as young as five, kids growing up in a low-income household can experience shame and anxiety. Ramsey adds that we also need to talk about wealth inequality in order to change it.

discussion

What kind of representations does this video address?

Which shows represent the working class in an unrealistic way, according to Gonzalez?  Which shows represent the working class realistically? What specifically makes the representations realistic or unrealistic?

Explain why the misrepresentation of class on TV matters.

What other shows about working class people can you think of? How do these shows represent the working class?