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Fall 2011 TV Viewing Guide

Women play a bigger role in new television shows rolling out for the Fall 2011 season, including “Pan Am” and “2 Broke Girls.” But are the roles better or merely warmed-over stereotypes or exploitive?

Here are’s pick of shows social workers might be watching:








Pan Am. Photo courtesy of ABC.

Pan Am (Premieres Sept. 25 and October 9 at 10 p.m. on ABC): For young women in the early 1960’s landing a job as a Pan Am airline stewardess was one of the most glamorous gigs you could find. This show from “West Wing “director/executive producer Thomas Schlamme hopes to let audiences know how feminist and ahead of their times these women were.

Why social workers might like it: Some of the leading feminists of the 20th century were social workers, including Grace Abbott and Dorothy Height. And about 80 percent of licensed social workers are women. So it will be interesting whether social workers love or hate “Pan Am.”


The Playboy Club. Photo courtesy of NBC.

The Playboy Club (premiered Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC): This television show about Hugh Hefner’s legendary Playboy Club of the 1960s has already garnered controversy. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is urging viewers to ignore it and NBC’s Salt Lake City affiliate will not air it. However, the creators of this program hope to follow in the footsteps of AMC’s critically acclaimed “Ad Men” by using the series to depict the changing social mores of the 1960’s.

Why social workers might like it: Like we said about Pan Am, social workers may be interested in seeing whether “The Playboy Club” takes the depiction of women to a deeper level or is as fluffy as a Playboy Bunny’s cottontail. Interestingly, social workers also have at least one link to the Playboy club. Social worker Nancy Downey Caddick, LCSW, DSW, worked at a Playboy Club in the 1960s and thought it was a good experience. To learn more about Downey Caddick click here.


Kat Dennings (left) and Beth Behrs in 2 Broke Girls. Photo courtesy of CBS.

2 Broke Girls (Premiered Sept. 19 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS): This program about a Brooklyn waitress who finds the new, clueless employee at her diner is the down-on-her-luck daughter of a corrupt multmillionaire who lost his fortune, is already a critic’s favorite. The two find they can learn a lot from each other in an Odd Couple sort of way.

Why social workers might like it: “2 Broke Girls” has a fun premise, the writing is sharp and funny, and the show puts a spotlight on a neglected demographic — working class Americans trying to do more with less. Social workers can relate.





New Girl cast. Photo courtesy of Fox.

New Girl (Premiered Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. on Fox) Popular actress and singer Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, a woman who moves in with three guys after she gets dumped by her boyfriend. These guys offer offer her unexpected — and humorous — lessons on life and love.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers help people overcome life’s challenges, including relationship problems. So this program is sure to win a social work audience. But wouldn’t it have been neat if they had cast three social workers as Jess’ roomates and called the series “Jess and the Three Licensed Clinical Social Workers”?



Man Up! cast. Photo courtesy of ABC.

Man Up! (Premieres Oct. 18 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC): A group of male friends try to live in a modern-day world where the definition of masculinity is a lot more complicated and uncertain. In one episode star Mather Zickel (who portrays Will) must advise his son on how to handle a bully. Go the old fashioned route and knock the bully’s block off or follow Will’s wife’s advice and just turn the other cheek?

Why social workers might like it? As we said before being a social worker often entails helping people navigate relationship issues. This includes males who are trying to be better husbands, partners, fathers and sons. And hopefully this program will touch on issues dear to the heart of many social workers, including bullying and parenting.

Up All Night. Photo courtesy of NBC.


Up All Night (Premiered Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. on NBC): Veteran comedic actress Christina Applegate (remember her from “Married with Children”?) and Will Arnet play Reagan and Chris, a hard-working, hard-partying young couple who have their lives turned around with the birth of their first child.

Why social workers might like it: Although a comedy, “Up All Night” will hopefully give viewers a slice of what it is like trying to juggle a family and job with a desire for personal freedom and just a good night’s sleep once in awhile. Social workers often help families overcome such hurdles. So this sitcom should be a sure pick for social workers.







Mario Lopez of H8R. Photo courtesy of the CW.

H8R (premiered Sept. 14 on the CW): Host Mario Lopez hooks up celebrities such as Snooki Polizzi from “Jersey Shore” with people who repeatedly dissed them on the Internet.

Why social workers might like it: There is a lot of negativity in the news, in television shows and on the Internet and many people are obsessed with watching celebrity trainwrecks. Why do you think shows such as “Celebrity Rehab” on VH1 are so popular? Social workers should get a kick out of a show that instead tries to get celebrities and the folks who hate them to understand each other and reconcile. Can’t we all just get along?



Sweetie Pie's cast. Photo courtesy of OWN.

Sweetie Pie’s (premieres Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. Eastern on the Oprah Winfrey Network): This reality show follows Robbie Montgomery, a former backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner who opened her own soul food restaurant in St. Louis. But Montgomery’s restaurant is more than a business. She tries to help out members of her family and clashes with her headstrong son Tim, a former ladies’ man who is trying to settle down and be a family man.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers know some of the most difficult relationships to manage are family relationships. That is why this show might be a good pick. And the staff at OWN, who already work with social workers to review their upcoming documentaries, recommended social workers watch this program.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter cast. Photo courtesy of Fox.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter (premieres Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox): Face it, being a teenager can be one of the most difficult times in life. Especially for parents coping to understand their hormonally challenged, moodyoffspring. “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” is a sitcom that hopes to mix comedy with this real life drama.

Why social workers might like it: Many social workers work in schools, helping children and teenager get through some of the rockier times in their lives. It will be interesting to see whether this program hits the mark when it comes to depicting teen issues or is a flop with social workers.




A Gifted man. Photo courtesy of CBS.

A Gifted Man (premieres Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. on CBS): Actor Patrick Wilson protrays Dr. Michael Holt, an arrogant neurosurgeon who is haunted by his dead ex-wife Anna Paul (actress Jennifer Ehle). Before she died Anna worked with the poor in a free health clinic and she urges Michael to become a more humane person. Funny thing is only he sees her.

Why social workers might like it: Many social workers work in the medical, mental health, nursing home and veteran fields, helping clients get good care and empathy in sometimes impersonal settings. Wouldn’t it have been great if Anna had been cast as a social worker? Because we are sure there are plenty of social workers who can advise doctors on improving their bedside manner.



Allen Gregory. Photo courtesy of Fox.

Allen Gregory (Premiers Oct. 30 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox): This animated series follows Allen Gregory DeLongpre, a snobby seven-year-old being raised by gay dads. Comedy ensues when the formerly homeschooled Allen Gregory goes to public school and has to fit in. That is hard for for a second grader who likes a glass of Pinot Grigio at lunch.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers advocate for equal rights for all, includingthe GLBT community. Social workers are also in the forefront of getting equal treatment for the growing number of GLBT parents. We know this is an irreverant comedy along the lines of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” but it will be interesting to see whether social workers think the portrayal of gay families is groundbreaking or stereotypical.

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  1. I liked 2 broke girls.

  2. I wonder if social workers like the racist, stereotyped characterization of Asians in 2 Broke Girls or whether it’s just another example of “funny.”

  3. social workers who might not like the Playboy Club:

    those who believe in advancing the NASW policy in Social Work Speaks (p 371):

    developing practices and programs that empower women and girls, enabling them to resist gender stereotypes, and critique sexist and misogynistic media representations of females.

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