The first post of this blog will be a slight deviation from the blog’s main focus. It will not deal with issues of gender, race, or class in the television series “Scrubs”. Instead this post will analyze the norms and ideals of masculinity that are found in a particular episode of the show “The Girls Next Door”. The episode being analyzed is the episode where Hugh Hefner turns 80 and his birthday party is planned. This episode describes a number of societal norms and ideals related to gender, some more obvious than others. This blog entry will analyze the masculine norms shown by Bridget’s father, and the masculine ideal portrayed by Hefner.
The episode also touches upon masculine norms through the behavior of Bridget’s father. Bridget’s parents come to visit her and in one scene they are all having a meal together. During the meal, Bridget’s father is shown eating a sizable amount of food and burping in the process. While some, if not all, of this was shown for comedic purposes it does send the message that it is normal for men to eat a lot and be a little vulgar while doing it. Another aspect of Bridget’s father that shows masculine norms is his appearance. He is a middle aged, slightly overweight man. Not a single female character is shown during the entire episode that is overweight at all. These two facts put together tell the audience that it is acceptable for men to be overweight but unacceptable for women to be overweight.
The show “The Girls Next Door” paints a very clear picture of the masculine ideal in the lifestyle of Hugh Hefner. Hefner is preparing to celebrate his 80th birthday in the episode and is also dating Kendra, a model in her early 20’s. Male viewers who see an elderly Hefner with a girlfriend in the prime of her life could easily think that Hefner’s method of attracting women is obviously foolproof. In this way, “The Girls Next Door” shows the ideal man as a man who is rich, powerful, and does not have to commit to one woman for any significant length of time. The ability to choose not to commit to one woman is further solidified as part of the masculine ideal during the planning of Hefner’s birthday party. Bridget, one of Hefner’s ex-girlfriends, is planning to perform a burlesque act for Hefner’s birthday where she will climb out of a giant cake and strip for her ex-boyfriend. Kendra, Hefner’s current girlfriend, will be at this party. In most situations, if a woman saw her boyfriend watching his ex-girlfriend strip for him she would be upset to say the least. The fact that Bridget is not worried that the show will upset Kendra shows that Hefner is able to have a girlfriend, Kendra, but still enjoy a quasi-sexual relationship with Bridget. Hefner can have his cake and eat it too. This entrenches the idea that an ideal man does not necessarily have to commit to one woman. Another part of Hefner’s relationship with Kendra that sends a message about the masculine ideal is the way they interact with one another. When they talk they are very formal with one another as opposed to being casual and comfortable. By doing this they are showing each other a persona rather than who they actually are. Dr. William Tardy says that a relationship that lacks at least some level of real communication is an unhealthy one (Petrie 223). This episode is describing an unhealthy relationship as being part of the masculine ideal.
The show “The Girls Next Door” depicts a masculine ideal that in many ways is problematic and dangerous to a society that is supposed to value and strive towards equality, but the ideals and norms it displays that relate to femininity are much more alarming and will be discussed in the next post of this blog.
Petrie, Phil W. “Real Men Don’t Cry…And Other ‘Uncool’ Myths.” Essence Nov. 1982.