Is I Dream of Jeannie Sexist?

After watching many of the older sitcoms I am always shocked to see so much sexism is present within the shows. I think this is especially evident in the magicom I Dream of Jeannie. There are various examples that support my argument. For one, the outfit Jeannie wears for the show is very revealing and shows off most of her torso. In this way, she is objectified and sexualized for the male viewer. Her body is put on display and becomes the main focus. In order to make her desirable for certain viewers she was put into an outfit that showed off a lot of her body. I think this shows sexism because it suggests that women’s value comes from their body, not from their talents etc.



Another reason I believe there is sexism present in I Dream of Jeannie is because of the master-slave like relationship Jeannie has with Tony. She addresses him as her master and answers his every beck-and-call. She is his slave. Rather than being his sidekick or his helper, she is portrayed in a way that makes her seem like his property. She always addresses him as “Master” not as Tony. I think this dialogue and ‘title’ for Tony is particularly sexist and highlights the gender hierarchy in the show. This is apparent in the clip “I dream of Jeanie funny” where Jeannie is called upon to give Tony 20/20 vision. He is very demanding and she obliges to his every request, happily. In this short clip I think sexism is pretty apparent. This is just one example of many.

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 9.42.17 PMStill from season 1, episode 23 “Watch the Birdie”

However, the actress who played Jeannie, Barbara Eden, is of a different opinion. She does not believe that the show was sexist. Rather, she argues that is showcased female empowerment. In an interview clip, “Barbara Eden on I Dream of Jeannie’s Alleged Sexism” she suggests that Jeannie was simply doing her job and was a strong, independent woman. Eden said that there were many occasions when fans would write to her or come up to her and tell her how empowered they felt watching Jeannie. I think many people support Barbara Eden’s analysis, while others support my arguments. This discourse shows just how divided audiences are about the sexism present in this magicom.

-Isabelle Jeffrey

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3 Responses to Is I Dream of Jeannie Sexist?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with you that I Dream of Jeanie has some instances of sexism throughout the show. Looking back though, there are a lot of sitcoms that got away with offensive things or other forms of discrimination because that was the norm at the time. People watching I Dream of Jeanie likely didn’t bat an eye at any of the sexist parts of the show. Just because people were ignorant of it doesn’t make it right though.

    -Kylie Long

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I see both points. Ultimately the show is sexist because of the two reasons you gave. However, a few years ago I watched a lot of this old sitcom and it appeared that the relationship between Tony and Jeannie gets less and less demanding as the show goes on. A good point too is that the show is a reference to genies, who tend to wear similar outfits and act as a slave. With this concept, I think it is hard for the show not to be a little sexist. She calling him master is just a funny side note that is from her culture and if I remember correctly, Tony found this odd in the beginning.

    Jack Kountouris

  3. marymdalton says:

    Great topic. Don’t forget to shorten paragraphs (in journalistic style) for posts to make them more readable and to use a page break to make the blog more accessible for readers.

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