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Two-A-Days on MTV

“Two-A-Days� is a reality television show about a high school football team from Hoover, Alabama. Set in a southern town where football is taken very seriously, Hoover High Buccaneers have won four state championships in the past five years and have been named the number one team in the country by USA Today and Sports Illustrated. The show follows the team as they practice twice a day and try to handle the great pressure that they have from their coach, school, families, town, and college recruiters that are all counting on them to bring home the fifth state championship this season. …All the while juggling school work and girlfriends.

This show airs on MTV during weekday evenings. The show is rated TV-14 as it keeps out explicit language, sexuality, or violence (other than football tackles). For this analysis, I watched the first episode of the second season. This episode touched on the players upsetting championship loss last season, introduced new characters, and showed this year’s team on the field and very briefly at the homecoming dance. This reality TV show is obviously targeting senior high, and probably many junior high, school students as it follows the lives of high school students and airs in the evening when teenagers are home from after-school activities and glued to the television. Reruns of episodes can be caught on late Saturday mornings, another prime time for teenage TV watching.

This reality show clearly demonstrates “normalization� of gender. Taken from the article “The Normalization of Heterogendered Relations in The Bachelor� by Gust Yep and Ariana Ochoa Camacho, normalization is “the process of constructing, establishing, and (re)producing a taken-for-granted, unquestionable, and all-encompassing standard used to measure goodness, desirability, morality, rationality, and superiority� (Yep & Camacho 339). With the spotlight on a completely male-dominated, all-American sport, normalization of gender roles is made more than apparent.

An exchange on the field between two players at the start of the show illustrates what society has set as “masculine�. One player asks another in a loud, aggressive tone, “You scared?� The other teammate responds quickly and even louder than the first “Hell no, I’m not scared�. During this same introduction clip, girls are shown sporting long ponytails tied with ribbon and faces caked with makeup and glitter as they lead the roaring crowd in cheers. Throughout the entire show, these gender roles are portrayed: the boys are tough football players and the girls are dainty cheerleaders. Every boy on the show is strong and aggressive while every girl is delicate and feminine. This documentary is sure to only show the girls talking about boyfriends and making signs and gifts for the football team, because after all, this show is all about the male-dominated football team. “The Normalization of Heterogendered Relations in The Bachelor� describes how “Two-A-Days� portrays the girls (but in less prominent roles than “The Bachelor�), “. . .the show focused on their physical appearance- body shape, clothing, make-up, and hairstyle. The [girls] were mostly presented as objects of the male gaze� (Yep & Camacho 339).

Later in the show, there is a conversation between two of the varsity cheerleaders. One of the girls (who happens to be the cheerleading captain) is talking about her boyfriend, who is also happens to be a star-football player. This conversation is held after this same boyfriend, Mark, shares what he likes about his girlfriend, Brittany, to the camera. Mark is quoted as saying “. . .everyone likes her and, of course, she’s pretty�. (Followed by close-up shot of her midriff in tight jeans and a short shirt). Brittany’s thoughts about her boyfriend, on the other hand, are given much more length and devotion. She shares about how sad she is to be moving on from high school next year because she and Mark have been together for so long; they have been to every high school dance together. She shares with a friend the fear of choosing colleges. She wants to be wherever Mark is but she can’t make her decision until he does because of his college football career. Brittany says, “I’ve cried over it like four times . . . he’s gotta wait on football . . .I’m going to try to go where he does.� Her friend responds with a sweet smile, “You’re such a good girlfriend�. What is very obvious about this situation is that Brittany is not concerned about her own educational or life goals, it’s all about Mark. Mark never says anything about staying with Brittany, but following the normalization rules, it is only right that Brittany stay by her man. Another quote taken from “The Normalization of Heterogendered Relations in The Bachelor� describes this situation: “. . . a subservient, care-taking woman tending to the needs of her [man]� (Yep & Camacho 339).

The only exception to normalization portrayed in this show lies in the cheerleading coach. Shane Martin, ex-football player, was injured playing football but loved the game so much that he became cheerleading coach to remain involved with the sport. Because he is involved with a completely female team, we see this as an exception to the show’s clearly laid-out views on gender. The exception is not too convincing, however, as Shane is very masculine and aggressive and also has a leadership role, possible alluding to the idea that a man lead a team, regardless of the sport (male or female), better than a woman could.

This team does have black players, but it is mostly white, and all the featured players are white. The cheerleading team also has no black girls, let alone any that are featured characters on the show. The students on “Two-A-Days� are of the middle to middle-upper class. Set in suburbia, the teenagers all drive nice cars, wear nice clothes and apparently do not have jobs. There are no homosexual relationships found anywhere in this reality TV show. Also, body types are society-approved: all the girls are thin and pretty while the boys are buff and good-looking.