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From Paternalism to Paternity: The Portrayal of Fatherhood in Medical TV Series

Published onDec 23, 2023
From Paternalism to Paternity: The Portrayal of Fatherhood in Medical TV Series

You're viewing an older Release (#1) of this Pub.

  • This Release (#1) was created on Oct 22, 2023 ()
  • The latest Release (#2) was created on Dec 22, 2023 ().


TV content has been documented to portray male and female roles which contribute to maintaining gender stereotypes. Even though they feature male and female health care workers, medical shows have also tended to associate male characters with professional attributes and female characters with interpersonal ones. This study thus explores the portrayal of male physicians as fathers in three American medical TV shows set in highly-frequented urban hospitals and spanning over the last three decades: ER (NBC, 1994-2009), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 2005-) and New Amsterdam (NBC, 2018-2023). Findings point towards a more equalitarian depiction of fathers who are fighting to be more involved in their children’s lives than their own fathers were. This was first initiated with ER and coincides with the end of the paternalistic representation of the doctor as a hero, and was further developed in Grey’s Anatomy and New Amsterdam. These more recent shows provide the viewer with portrayals of nurturing fathers which challenge the hegemonic representation of masculinity, while still retaining some traditional characteristics of masculinity by turning the doctor into father heroes.


Fatherhood; masculinity; stereotypes; gender; portrayal.

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