The Portrayal of Women in Quantico- Ally Harper

I am going to reference Katie Nelson’s blog post about women on television. She argued that characters like Olivia Pope and Ally McBeal are successful in the workplace and not in their loves lives. They are strong women, but cannot be successful in both areas. What does this mean about the portrayal of women on television. Why can’t we be good at both? Why can’t we have a family and have a career? Men do it! Or at least, that is what society tells us.

In this blog post I want to extend Katie’s argument with the introduction of another show and another character that proves her point. One show that I have been newly obsessed with is Quantico. Quantico is about Alex, an FBI trainee turned agent who is at the heart of a terrorist attack. Through present shots as well as flashbacks viewers see the journey of finding the internal terrorist behind the bombing of grand central.

Now Alex, like Olivia Pope, is excellent at being an FBI agent. While she gets caught up in the terrorist mess, and is accused of being a terrorist herself, she seems to be the only one that questions what is going on. She is dedicated to finding the truth and her abilities as an agent are proved over and over again. Her love life? Not so much. It seems that if every relationship she establishes somehow gets in the way of her duties as an agent. Her lover, Ryan, her friends, Shelby, Simon, and Caleb, and even her mentor Liam.

Now what does this say about the portrayal of women on television? It brings me back to I Love Lucy the 1950’s domestic ideal. Alex seems to be a modern day anti housewife to an extent. She is successful in her career, but not in her personal life. She cannot have it all and has to choose. Meanwhile, Ryan her lover, seems to be able to deal with his personal relationships and career flawlessly with no consequences. While Alex is the protagonist of the show, it seems like her flaws reflect those of the anti domestic ideal of the 1950s.

Image result for alex from quantico and domestic ideal


Image result for alex from quantico and domestic ideal

Image result for alex from quantico and domestic ideal

Another thing I would like to point out here is the inequality of the dress of the women in the show. Has anyone noticed that the women recruits outfits are low-cut, while the men have higher necklines? Or the fact that Alex is always wearing something that shows off her figure in a sexualized way? For me this just further emphasizes the fact that women are sexualized on television.

Image result for alex from quantico and domestic ideal



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7 Responses to The Portrayal of Women in Quantico- Ally Harper

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I could not agree more with this quote. I feel like producers cannot get it right, they either portray women as housewives or completely independent. There is no happy medium, which is quite frustrating as a woman. –Jenna Romano

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I think you make two really good points about the anti-housewife and sexualized way women are portrayed in show today. I think that because the 1950s housewife has become such a known stereotype, society today tries to take a complete 180 by making these women work professionals and very successful in their careers. It does bother me though that these women, though successful, always seem to have to choose between love and work. Are the two mutually exclusive? By comparing 1950s shows like I Love Lucy in which Ricky and Lucy are madly in love to the show Quantico you described, it would seem so. The other point about women being sexualized in their portrayal on TV has been something that has been done for decades as we saw in Julia last week. It seems as though no matter what stereotype women serve in a specific decade, they are always sexualized and can always either have one or the other – love or work.
    -Nicolette McCann

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I think another example that supports your argument is House of Cards. Claire Underwood only makes leaps in her career when she sacrifices her marriage. On the contrary, things are only stable and ok at home with Frank when she steps back/ignores her career in order to help him. Just an interesting alternative!

    Stephanie Rubin

  4. mediaphiles says:

    Everyone lately has been talking about Quantico and how good it is, but I haven’t heard anything about the characters, like Alex, specifically. This post definitely intrigued me because of your focus on Alex and the balance between love life and work life, I feel like shows with a female protagonist never find the proper balance between the two. Despite her being outside of a domesticated space her professional life (from what I’ve heard and read) seems to be all she has. Perhaps once women break the domestic ideal they still must struggle with what is being “lost” — their ability to attain a partner/love life. This is problematic as it still induces the sense that working women can’t be good at both having a family and a successful career.

    – Ziba Klein

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I think we keep seeing this example of the successful career woman who can’t get her personal life over and over in film and television. This reminds me a lot of Sandra Bullock’s character in Miss Congeniality. I think this character portrayal says a lot about our larger society. Is television influencing this ideal or is it reflecting that ideal that is already present in society? I think it’s important to have conversation about this specific character role because it is so ever present in television and film.
    -Valerie Medoff

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I think you definitely bring up some good points. I feel like the writers of the show make Alex struggle with her personal life because it makes the show more interesting, in their eyes. I think most people think that a character won’t be as exciting if she has everything “figured out”. It’s sad that this happens so much for women in TV when there is nothing wrong with letting a character have it all. – Katie Thevenow

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I’m obsessed with Quantico as well! I love Alex and yet she drives me crazy at the same time. She only drives me crazy, however, when it comes to her love life. I often found myself getting angry at the fact that she makes her relationship with Ryan so much harder then it has to be. I completely agree that everything that has to do with love is ten times more complicated for her than it is for him. As for the sexualization of the female characters I feel as though that’s a given (albeit sometimes annoying) in television. Not that it’s right but by any means but you have to realize that both men and women are often sexualized in media. There are countless scenes in both seasons of Quantico in which the male characters are have naked in the locker rooms (not complaining). So you just have to acknowledge the fact that the majority of the time if a show is casting “attractive” people they are going to sexualize them. -Courtney Green

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