This study examines four films from Sollosi’s 2018 list of the top fifteen grossing box office romantic comedies. The films analyzed include Crazy Rich Asians, The Proposal, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Pretty Woman whose release dates range from 1990 to 2018. This study observes how these films seemingly defy stereotypical gender roles, but more often reaffirm them by incorporating stereotypical characteristics. Stereotypical gender roles are expectations of gender that is based off of one’s sex, and stereotypical meaning a widely held and fixed idea or image of a person (Krijnen & Bauwel, 2015).
It is problematic for these films to be reaffirming stereotypical gender roles because of the influence forms of mass media can have on society. According to Hammer (2009), society learns what acceptable and normal roles are through mass media. The films in this study are not only portraying to society what exactly women’s roles are but also how women should be fulfilling those roles. Hall claims, “Stereotyping reduces people to a few, simple, essential characteristics, which are represented as fixed by Nature” (as cited in Krijnen & Bauwel, 2015, p.44). When films place women in stereotypical roles, and perpetuate the idea that the roles are fixed by Nature, they make it difficult for women to transition out of those roles in future films and, in turn, in life. In this study, categories of analysis derived from previous literature reviews as well as observation are used to identify specific roles that are being portrayed repeatedly throughout each film.