How MTV Programming Displays Gender Roles Through Reality TV : Jersey Shore

We all know Reality TV is entertaining for many reasons: the profanity, the sex, the scandals, and the drama. However, if we dig deep into specific reality television shows on MTV specifically, and how they display the gender roles of our “social culture”, along with the ideologies they present to their audiences, it can be quite shocking. Not only can these shows influence their audiences, eventually they have the ability to reinforce the wants, needs, and values in both media and our social culture of the viewers.

Jersey Shore, a well known reality television show for its craziness, absurdity, profanity, sex, and most importantly: the drama. To say that this show displays ideologies and gender roles of male and females is saying the very least. Jersey Shore is also known to be the platform of many reality television shows.  So, let’s get into it:


The males of the show: Ronny (large muscle man with a mohawk, a cheater, dates Sammi), Mike (typical “douche” of the show who is obsessed with himself and his body along with all females) , Vinny (italian family boy always looking for a girl to bring home), DJ Pauly D (the comedian, uses hair gel to spike his hair-do, #T-ShirtTime)

Their Routine: Gym, Tan, Laundry. Reinforcing the male gender role/stereotypes of being strong, buff, muscles, attractive, and overall masculine.

* Will bring home any-any amount of girl(s) so they “get some”


The Females of the show: JWOW (Boyfriend Issues, Works out a lot, bronzer, a lot of makeup, large breasts) , Snooki (short, bronzer, a trouble-drunk), major boy issues), Deena (friend of Snooki’s from home, the “meatballs”) , Sammi (dates Ronny on the show, gets cheated on, always fights, “bitch”, could be seen as an airhead)

Their RoutineGym, Tan Laundry, Use of  a lot of makeup, long-done nails, Much day drinking, CRYING. The routine of all the females reinforce the gender roles/stereotypes of females to look fake with much makeup, painting nails, “slutty” clothing, large breasts, and being over emotional.

I believe the issue with Jersey Shore, is the ideologies it displays and reinforces to the viewers. After analyzing, Jersey Shore reinforces ideologies dealing with male superiority, the sexual objectification of women, the ideas and motives of less conservative lifestyles including massive amounts of sex, profanity, excessive partying, etc. Males are meant to be buff – the alpha male – , bring home girls, have sex with a lot of girls. Females are supposed to be “hot”, and dress with minimal clothing, wear a lot of makeup…

For example, from an “MTV Reality Study” from, Jersey Shore is included within the study, analyzing the actions of each character and gender group:

“Overall, women were more disparaging than men when speaking of themselves or someone of their own gender.  Positive dialogue between females focused on their appearance, sense of accomplishment and emotional resilience.

Most popular positive words directed at females:

Female to Female: Pretty, proud, strong

 Female Self-Talk: Excited, happy

 Male to Female: Nice, cool, hot

 (For purposes of this study ‘positive’ is defined by the speaker’s intentions. Positive includes dialogue intended to be complimentary, supportive, comforting, and/or encouraging. (Example: If a male said to a female, ‘You look hot!’ The dialogue is coded as positive if , based on the context of the scene, the speaker intended the statement as a compliment). 

Males tended to refer to females as ‘cool’ and view them more favorably when females displayed characteristics that males considered more “male-like” (e.g., not wanting to linger or engage after intercourse, not viewing sex as an indication of a greater commitment, not requiring romance prior to intercourse, not being jealous ” (The Parent’s Television Council, Pg 6)

The content of Jersey Shore can influence individuals of the wrong age group, including younger teenagers or even pre-teens who have access. It is a bad representation of life as an adult to those who are not mature enough for specific content included within the episodes.

Moreover, especially after Jersey Shore MTV specifically offers many reality TV that is progressively inappropriate that reinforces social norms, stereotypes of men and women, and prospective gender roles in our social culture today.


^ YouTube Video “”

Click to access MTVRealityStudy_Dec11.pdf

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