I just finished watching the Tivo’d fourth episode ("Picking Teams")
of ABC Family’s Greek,
and I’m so appalled, I had to blog about it. (Kinda like when something tastes
really bad, and you say "ooh, this tastes gross, try it!")
When Greek debuted last month, I was pleasantly surprised at how decently
it was written, how frankly it portrayed college life, and the fact that it
included a well-adjusted black gay character. I wasn’t overly impressed with
the show’s three lead female characters — Casey (Spencer Grammer),
her best friend Ashleigh (Amber Stevens), and her arch-nemesis
Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria) — who seemed like stereotypes
of bitchy, backstabbing sorority girls, but I was willing to give the show the
benefit of the doubt, especially because it was created by a gay man, Sean
The second and third episodes came and went, and the girls (and I use that
term deliberately here, since that’s how they’re depicted) didn’t get any better.
Casey and Amber discuss sex and infidelity (for a change)
Then came Monday night, and the infamous fourth episode.
The boys spent the episode discussing physics, drinking beer, playing floor
hockey, and struggling with whether to come out to the fraternity.
The girls spent the episode having sex, scheming to have sex, or thinking up
ways to use sex as a weapon. Oh, wait, I’m sorry: and drinking beer.
Casey threatens to release Rebecca’s sex tape on the internet, Rebecca tries
to expose Casey’s one-night stand with an old boyfriend, and the sorority’s
leader warns Casey that she better stay with her rich boyfriend because it makes
the chapter look better. Then the whole sorority decides to demonstrate their
"athletic support" for the boys hockey game (there are no female athletes
on this campus) by wearing their "sexiest, sluttiest outfits" as part
of a plan to seduce the rival fraternity and get them so drunk they’ll be too
hung over to play well the next day. They proceed to actually do that, complete
with dancing seductively on pool tables.
Sound familiar? That’s because you saw this exact scenario, employed for the
exact same reason, in 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds. Which is fitting,
really, since all the girls on Greek are straight out of that movie,
just with modern hairdos and more racial diversity (because sleeping your way
through college — it’s not just for white girls anymore!).
The five seconds in each episode when they’re not talking about sex, the Greek girls
are either acting dumb (Ashleigh), or showing no indication that they ever actually
study or go to class (everyone else). Ashleigh actually said in one scene, "I
can’t believe I just used the word ‘sabotage" — maybe I am
Don’t worry, Ashleigh, voulez-vous coucher avec moi is all the French
you’ll need to know on this show.
After it was over, I rewound Monday’s show to see if the female characters
had a single conversation in the entire episode that didn’t somehow revolve
around sex. They didn’t. Not a single one.
And it’s been like this in almost every episode of
Greek. If you created a drinking game that involved taking shots every
time a girl does or says something related to sex on this show (and I’m sure someone already has, somewhere), you would get
completely wasted in about 30 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against women having sex in college, and
some of my best friends are sluts (since that label is applied to any woman
who has sex just because she wants to). And the women’s college I attended not only
didn’t have sororities, we made fun of them. But there’s making fun of stereotypes,
and then there’s promoting them, which is what Greek is doing.
there’s a grain of truth to most stereotypes (including the one about bad lesbian
hair), I can guarantee you that none of the many fantastic businesswomen, lawyers,
artists, and full-time mothers I’ve met who were in sororities in college spent
their undergraduate days scheming about how to sleep their way to the top. Yes,
they had boyfriends (or occasionally, girlfriends) in college, but they also
spent their time studying, going to class, organizing charity events, and developing
friendships that didn’t revolve around their relationships with men.
Meanwhile, over on The N’s new college drama, The Best Years, girls manage to have relationships AND deal with other things, like winning an assignment in business class, dealing with guilt over a friend’s death, roommate problems, and struggling with childhood abuse. Sure, the girls still spend a lot of time thinking about sex and relationships, but so do the boys, and it’s not all they think about.
Greek‘s severely one-sided portrayal wouldn’t be such a big deal if this show
was meant to be a satire (as Desperate Housewives is), or if the boys
were equally one-dimensional. But while they do fit some stereotypes, the male
characters on Greek— especially Rusty (Jacob Zachar)
and Calvin (Paul James) — are shown early on to be much
more than stereotypes, while the girls remain one-dimensional sex machines who
only care about outmaneuvering their "sisters" in the endless power
struggle to find and marry the right guy.
Did I say 1984? I meant 1964.
Greek‘s consistent promotion of the idea that sex and snagging a wealthy
husband is the primary focus and motivating factor in the lives of college women
today is not only ridiculous and inaccurate, it’s sexist and insulting in a
way that I haven’t seen on a television show in a long time. In fact, I’ve been
trying to think of a show on TV right now that’s more sexist than Greek,
and I’m coming up empty. Even my gay guy friends over at AfterElton.com, Michael and Brent, remarked
to me that they can’t believe how terribly this show portrays women. This is
especially frustrating because in many other ways, Greek is a good
So what does Greek get in exchange for funneling large quantities
of sexism to teen and young adult viewers every week? High ratings, an order for
another 10 episodes, and Charisma
Carpenter as a guest-star. I’m officially depressed.
asked Sean last week at the TCA Summer Press Tour why his female characters
were so bad (and this was even before I’d seen the most recent episode),
he said he wanted to introduce the stereotype of the sorority girl, and then
show the depth that lay beneath. So far, the only thing I’m seeing is the depth
of Sean’s apparent dislike for women.
Unless or until Greek can produce some female characters that actually have a life outside the bedroom, I’m afraid I’ll have to turn in my pledge card and sit this rush season out.