Document Type

Honors Thesis


Representation in media can be difficult to get right. Throughout American history, minorities have been insufficiently represented, which in turn creates tropes and stereotypes that carry on the cycle of inaccurate representations. Racial and ethnic minorities as well as LGBTQ+ individuals are a few groups that have struggled to achieve positive representation on screen. This lack of positive imagery surrounding these groups can negatively impact them in the real world. Cultivation theory suggests that what we view on television influences our perceptions of our lives and the people we meet throughout our lifetimes. This thesis aims to dissect some of the common stereotypes associated with specific minority groups to better understand why these stereotypes are harmful. Social media plays a considerable role in modern day media representations, as viewers now have an outlet to voice their opinions on whether or not they believe a representation is accurate or not. Two television shows, I Love Lucy (1951-1957) and One Day at a Time (2017-2020), are analyzed within this thesis to document how diversity has evolved both on and off screen over time. Comparisons to real world events such as court cases and laws are used as tangible results of growing acceptance for divergence from societal norms.



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