Are gender dominated programmes good for TV?

Top Gear, male tv, Lauren Wise, Kettle Mag
Written by Lauren Wise

Top Gear’s recent media attention has caused its controversial host, Jeremy Clarkson, to be given the boot, and despite the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, being insistent that the show will be renewed for 2016, there seems to be a grey cloud looming over its uncertain future.  

With this subject hot on everyone’s tongues, this seems the right time to be questioning how damaging gender-specific programs can be, particularly those before the watershed. Although this time it wasn’t Clarkson’s comments on sexuality causing controversy, the show has never been far from the gender-row.

Top Gear gender row.

Top Gear has rejected past criticism of being sexist, despite it evidently being a program aimed at male petrol-heads. This is demonstrated in the 2013 series trailer, where the BBC received complaints for its portrayal of three women doing the presenters’ laundry, alternated with shots of Clarkson, May and Hammond participating in fast-paced action shots. 

Examining its counterpart

With such a male-orientated show being struck from our TV’s, where does this leave its counterpart female-orientated show, Loose Women?

My own experience of Loose Women is of watching it sandwiched between This Morning and Jeremy Kyle, when I’ve either been ill from a day of school, or nursing a fresher’s hangover. Needless to say, it’s a pretty easy watch and doesn’t require a lot of exhaustive thinking. However, is this exactly what the show is lacking?

Claiming to be an empowering show aimed at women, who discuss current topics from a female perspective; Loose Women frequently actually focuses on issues such as ‘is your husband domesticated’, ‘sharing birthing videos online’ and ‘adventure holidays vs. beach holidays’. These light-hearted topics are alternated with anecdotes about the underperformance of their husbands at domestic duties, and more shockingly, Coleen Nolan’s admission of listening to her son having sex.

Not without flaws

Loose Women doesn’t always successfully demonstrate the seriousness of women’s views on current affairs. Instead the show often depicts a giggling, unhappy-with-their-man feminist, rather than representing a wider scope of strong-willed women who are standing up for things they believe in.

Fortunately, some of the topics the Loose Women touch upon are important issues, such as the lack of female MPs and the distorted view of female ‘perfection’ the media represents. The women who make up the Loose Women panel are renowned in their specialised industries; Janet Street Porter was editor of The Independent on Sunday for 2 years, Jamelia is the winner of 4 MOBO awards and has been nominated for 9 Brits, Coleen Nolan is famous for singing as part of The Nolan Sisters has been a panellist on Loose Women since 2000, and Ruth Langsford has been an English television presenter for ITV since 2006.

However, the intelligence of this panel collectively is over shadowed by the way in which they approach these issues. For example, the Loose Women twitter page frequently updates followers on what the panellists have been wearing during show, focusing the audience’s attention on the importance of what they are wearing, rather than what they are saying.

Personally, although Loose Women is a good follow-up to lighthearted This Morning, it’s definitely something to be taken with a pinch of salt! A more serious women’s panel show would possibly not gain as much of a following as Loose Women has, and therefore maybe the issues addressed in the show should be taken a little bit more seriously.

What are your views? Is Loose Women an important part of daytime TV? Or does it represent an outdated feminist?  Have your say in the comments section below.