There is more in this show than you think...
In my Digital Photo Essay I始m planning to analyze Wilfred (2011-present) from three critical perspectives: organizational, feminist, and reception. I will argue that convention have a huge impact on Wilfred development. I will also explain how Wilfred stereotypes and portrays female characters as passive, emotional and sexual objects and then discuss the audience始s resistive reading of Wilfred by explaining how their opinion and reaction to the show is different from intended meaning.
Organizational perspective. Convention... The FX始s organizational culture as well as professional culture affect the fact, that Wilfred was born in the first place, specifically if consider organizational culture performance politics is one of the type of performances, which performed differently in every organization. For example, such kind of sitcom will no be aired on Nickelodeon, NBC, ABC due to explicit language, drug, abuse and sex scenes. However FX
allows to air such kind of shows and therefore it influences the content of Wilfred.
W I L F R E D
ntelligent? ovely? rustrated? ealistic? motional? ilemma?
Feminist perspective. Passive role... One of the female character who played important part in Ryanʼs (Elijah Woods) life is Cinzia (Gabriella Pession). In “Sacrifice” (01.12) Cinzia sleeps with Ryan at the first day they met and the audience could see her in the bed. She is passive (Ott&Mack, 182), she is lying on the bed, naked (under the blanket, however the viewers can see her naked back). Cinziaʼs character represents several female stereotypes, such as being passive in the bed (like saying “Iʼm ready, take me”.
Emotional characters... In the “Anger” (1.8) Kristen (Dorian Brown) changes her emotional status for the a several times. She throws a party in this episode and during the party there are minor problems (like not enough plates or everyone didnʼt come) which influences her emotional status significantly. At the beginning of the episode she is happy and smiling. At the middle of the episode Kristin is angry, furious and at the end she cries. During the twenty minuted episode, Kristinʼs character has changed her emotional feelings over three times because of the situations around her. She shows her femininity “irrational or emotional impulses” (Ott&Mack, 185). In comparison Wilfred and Ryan had overall close emotional feeling during the episode.
Sexual object... In “Identity” (1.12) during the live broadcasting at the job, Jenna (Fiona Gubelman) starts to touch her boobs and plays with them while being on air. This moment sexualizes Jennaʼs character, because she is constructed for the male gaze (Ott&Mack, 162).
Moreover in the episode “Trust” (1.2) Ryan as well as the audience see Jenna in sexy outfit and then hear the noises of the sex scene with Jenna. She is having sex with her boyfriend, but her voice is heard from another house. Jenna portrayed here as a sexual object, because the viewer can hear only her voice (not the voice of her boyfriend), she is the on who desires the sex.
In“Pride” (1.7.) Wilfred falls in physical love with giraffe toy. He is attracted to the giraffeʼs long neck alluding to the pleasure of oral sex. However, itʼs must be taken into consideration that Wilfred is a male and giraffe portrayed in this episode as a female. Giraffe is a stereotypical representation of role model for males (in this case for dog males), because Wilfred refers to her as “I must taste”. Giraffe is treated here as a sexual object - as a sexual entertainment for Wilfred.
Wilfred also has a bear toy which audience can observe through out the season. He treats the bear as his girlfriend and he always wants to have sex with it. The bear represents sexual object in the direct meaning of the word “sexual object”.
â€œFair warning, dear reader: Wilfred is intensely vulgar, and only guys around the age 28 whose ears, and sensibilities, are covered with scar tissue will find nothing offensive.â€? (Verne Gay).
Wilfred audience is extremely active and have their own opinion and understanding of the text. While the producers of the show are encoding the direct meaning into Wilfred, the audience is continuing to be resistive. David Zuckerman who is a writer for Wilfred claimed that “reviewing blogs and twitters, I’m surprised how they found such a deep meaning”. Wilfred fans are actively discussing the meaning of the show. They came up with the idea that Wilfred is only a Ryan’s projection and he doesn’t exist in reality. Ryan imagined him in order to overcome his personal problems.
Wilfred is only one of the hundreds of TV comedy serials, which is entertaining audience every day. But the real problem society is facing isn’t obvious for everyone. This is why it called “problem”. As I explained above, Wilfred portrays female stereotypes and sexualizes them. This show also is constructed on organizational structures, which hugely influence to the content of the show. The main message of this argument is not to criticize Wilfred in a negative way, but to make you - audience think about what you watch. Television comedies are created not only for fun, they are touching on many different questionable isms in our life, such as discrimination, sexism, racism, etc. Don’t just watch, watch and think, because when you watch and think, you ask a question “Wait, is it right?”
Is it right?
Bibliography “Anger.” Wilfred. FX Channel. August 11. 2011. Television. Gay, Verna. “Wilfred”: Elijah Wood and a talking dog. Newsday. n.p. June 21, 2011. Web. April 16, 2013. <httpLwww.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/wilfred-elijah-wood-and-a-talking-dog-1.2974497> Ott, Brain, and Robert Mack. Critical Media Studies and Introduction. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Print.