Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Through an historical overview of the never-married female character in twentieth century situation comedies and an in-depth analysis of three twenty-first century American sitcoms, this dissertation investigates how television creators, writers, producers, and actors have interpreted the figure of the single woman and attempted to make her appealing and acceptable to a broad viewing audience. Because of its traditionally family-friendly offerings and preponderance of female characters in comparison to other popular culture genres, the situation comedy presents a significant case study for the analysis of female representations on television. Through its encouraged identification with characters and portrayals of issues that face not only the character, but also the viewer, television opens the door for discussing and confronting deeply-held beliefs about the role of women in society. In order to understand the current situation of women, particularly those women who grew up with the medium, one must investigate what television has “taught” its viewers about the place of women in contemporary society. Drawing on feminist and television critical theories as well as more mainstream discussion and analyses, my focus on the single woman in the series Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and Ugly Betty illuminates how the life and desires of the single woman has been presented in sitcoms. These characterizations are negotiated with the prevailing cultural views about heteronormativity, motherhood, and feminism in ways that reveal changes in our cultural ideas about the single woman.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Roberts, Robin