Friday, May 15, 2009

Scrubs Analysis

Marcelo Rivera

Gender & Pop Culture

Dr. Jessie Gamble

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scrubs: Analysis of JD

In the primetime realm of sitcoms, Scrubs challenges hegemonic ideals with their diverse yet interconnected variety of characters. John Dorian, better known as JD, is the show’s main character whose personality tends to be categorized as feministic and frowned upon by various cast members. He finds himself in many scenarios’ that allows the viewer, if correctly understood, to question his deviant behavior. A mentor to John Dorian, Dr. Perry Cox, constantly reminds JD in his rants of how abnormal his mannerism usually tends to be. On almost all occasions, JD is not given the full respect of Dr. Cox that he truly feels he deserves and is instead is identified by a vast amount of female names.

In Patriarchy the System, author Allan G. Johnson states that “It is about defining women and men as opposites, about the “naturalness” of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination (Johnson 94). Dr. Cox sees John Dorian as fragile, na├»ve, girly, and irritating. He verbally assaults JD because he looks down upon his feministic mannerisms. By calling JD names he tries to imply that he needs to be more of a man because that is the norm. One can interpret his point of view to be the same as societies’. Society has set a standard as to what men are expected to be. We are taught at a young age that boys are supposed to be tough and rugged. Acts of emotion should be limited, which is not the case with JD who tends to want to give and receive affection from those he looks up to and loves. On nearly every episode JD and Turk (his best friend) find themselves being affectionate to one another, which leads to Turk’s wife, Carla Espinosa, to question who Turk actually loves more. A notoriously catchy duet sung by JD and Turk entitled  “Guy Love” symbolizes the affection that male friends can have for each other and usually is seen as a feminine quality. Throughout the song they hug and speak of how they each truly feel about each other (care for one another, etc).

In Portraying Difference, author Newman explains the ability for a symbol (word), in this particular case a slur, to “create and enforce social inequalities.” (Newman 75) Gender referenced slurs such as whore or slut are used to depict a females who have had various intimate partners. On the other hand men are praised for their increasing amounts of sexual partners. It is a assessment of their masculinity that provides other men ( in this situation Turk) with a visual idea of how  number of sexual relationships. They [Turk and JD] tend to ask each other if one another “hit it yet” and if the answer is yes, they praise each for that accomplishment by giving a hand gesture of their approval. 

Using the same scenario, we now examine the affects of the same actions from the female’s point of view. In Scrubs, Elliot Reed is a doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital (just as JD) who tends to have commitment issues and has not settled down for a good deal of time. She jumps in and out of relationships, even canceling her own wedding because she is uncertain of what she wants. Elliot is very open about her sexuality; she tends to brag about some of her sexual encounters with the characters of the show, such as nurse Carla Espinosa. In one scene of the episode, Elliot is observed kissing a man who has their child admitted to the hospital (the kiss occurred while the kid was sleeping right next to his hospital bed). The father of the kid had stated that the “mother is not here” which led Elliot to believe that she was no longer in their lives. The man was actually being literal, he meant that his wife was not actually present at the moment and stepped out somewhere. Later in the episode the wife returns and has been told the news by the husband, she confronts Elliot stating that she has special treatment for “whores”, she in fact was insinuating a physical altercation would occur. The men came out of that this scenario unharmed and was proclaimed the victim. It is an uneven playing field for women and men, norms have been set in society that cannot be easily eliminated and forgotten about.

Ideally, men are assumed to enjoy various activities that women are considered to lack experience in, such as sports. Keeping this design in mind, JD who lacks much interest in any sports feels that he must in order to connect with his best friend [Turk] and his father figure [Dr. Cox] have some type of background knowledge to affirm that he in fact follows and enjoys sports. On certain occasions JD is pictured at a bar ordering his favorite drink the “Appletini” or simply put an apple martini. He deviates from the normal assumption that all men enjoy themselves an ice-cold beer after a long day at work. JD has on many occasions stated that he simple does not like the flavor of beer and rather have a drink that is much more “fruitier” tasting. In another occasion JD is faced with a emotionally wrecked Dr. Cox (after three of his transplant patients die after a medical error) who is dwelling over a bottle of brandy. JD takes a cup full of the brandy and tries to drink it to no avail, in a sense trying to imitate his mentor’s masculine trait (men are into heavier drinks that do not have a fruity taste). JD is a perfect case study of how feminine traits in a man can be scrutinized and punished for not fitting the norm that society has stipulated.

Work Cited Page

Newman, David M.. Identities and Inequalities. 1. McGraw-Hill, 2005. Print.

Johnson, Allan G.. It's Not Just about Gender. 1. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997. Print.



  1. Marcelo-
    You are definitely on the right track with your decision to tackle masculinity and the show Scrubs. Centering your analysis on a particular character is also a good tactic to make the analysis more manageable and gives it the narrow focus necessary for your to conduct a more nuanced analysis of this specific character within a show, than had you chosen the show itself.

    As you decided to address (counter)hegemony in this specific TV show and in relation to the ways a specific character represents these norms/ideals/etc, it would have helped if you had chosen a specific episode to pull your examples from (i.e. instead of trying to generalize "on almost every episode of this show...").

    Additionally, it would have been helpful to have a clearer thesis in your first paragraph (last sentence of the first paragraph tends to point the reader in the right direction).

    As someone who is unfamiliar with the show, your description appears to convey a TV show that has a character who is chastised by other characters for depicting non-normative gender behaviors. The idea that he's depicting the more stereotypically feminine (is that what you meant by "feministic"? Feministic isn't a word, as far as I know, but feminine, feminist, and female are three differing words by definition) is not in itself counterhegemonic. The reactions of the other characters on this show illustrate a rather stark hegemonic message that the show as a whole is disseminating. There are clear-cut rules for each gender's behavior. Therefore, when JD digresses from these masculine norms for conduct, he is harassed, teased, ridiculed, and disrespected (based on how you described the show). Does the audience watch the show and get the message that "it's okay to deviate from the gendered norm"? Or, does the show send more messages about the repercussions of not being "masculine enough" that the show reinforces hegemonic representations of masculinity (more than deviates from this hegemonic construct) and leave the audience with JD primarily as a character whose flawed masculinity is a warning sign to the viewers, that it's basically not "ok" to deviate from the norm because look at what happens to JD when you do?

    As for the quotes, keep the following in mind:
    Formatting Quotes
    Format your quotes so that they facilitate your analysis. This format is also the correct one for the paper in terms of the writing structure/mechanics (content of paper and mechanics are related issues/components of any form of writing). Remember the following:
    A quote needs to be integrated into a sentence with an introduction to the quote (even the shortest bit of intro material will suffice here).
    Kellner contends, “Academic scholarship in cultural studies has evolved and is not your mother’s cultural studies” (3).
    According to Kellner, “Gender representations in advertisements illustrate this culture as a hegemony of conflict” (Crane 33).
    Notice the period is after the parenthetical citation. Also, if your sentence includes the name of the author whose work is the basis for the quoted material, then only page number(s) are necessary. If the sentence doesn’t include the name (see example 2) then put the author’s last name before the page number inside the parenthesis).

    Quotes can’t exist like little islands inside the paragraphs of your paper, as sentences on their own, without you providing the context for the quote.

    Please feel free to see me if you need assistance with the subsequent Maymester assignments :o)

  2. I like how you kept the quotes short and to the point. You didn't let the authors speak for you. I also like how you discussed how characters react to those who go against the norm, not just counter-hegemonic behavior portrayed by characters. It was a thorough analysis.

    One thing you could have done differently is stated your own point before that of the author's. That way you are making a claim and then backing it up. Also, your last paragraph only discussed JD. Since you talked about both him and Elliot in the essay,it migh thave made things more conclusive if you tied everything you discussed together.