The Squid and the Shark:
The Art of Reinforcing Gender Stereotyping in TV Lawyerland

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.
~ Lewis Carroll, The Lobster Quadrille

According to popular mythology, the squid is the only animal believed to be able to kill a shark. At Crane, Poole & Schmidt, however, Marlene Stanger (“The Squid”) loses the initial stare-down contest with Alan Shore (Boston Legal). Such is the nature of the contradictory messages TV viewers receive about all professional women. Focusing on female lawyers, women in a stereotypically ruthless and cutthroat profession, this paper approaches the issue of gender equality, as illustrated in television culture, from the perspective of the imagemaker/propagandist, who seeks to reinforce the status quo while promoting new ideas.

© Suzanne Winterberger
for the
Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association Conference
October 27-29, 2006
Baltimore, Maryland