The episode begins with Jenny, the wife of the League Commissioner Kevin, wanting to be in the league. Despite knowing her fantasy football, being friends with almost everybody in the league, and not being as awkward as other characters, she is rejected from the league because she is a girl. The episode takes the league members to Las Vegas where they meet up with Chad Ochocinco, and eventually Jenny when she learns there is an open spot in the league. It comes down to a vote between Jenny and Rafi to determine who gets the final spot. Rafi is an unshaved drink stealer obsessed with bumpin’ chodes, but gets the final spot in the League because he is a guy.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like anything special, but I would argue that the episode is a great challenge to gender. Anaam Butt’s article, talking about gender roles in TV shows, states “In most top-rated TV shows, the male characters are much more accomplished and are further along in their careers than females.” While Jenny may be a stay at home mom, and most of the male characters in the show have very good jobs, she is furthest along in regards to what is important for the show: fantasy football knowledge. The League does a good job of painting the scene to show Jenny as a smart, cool, intelligent, female character who anybody would be lucky to have in a fantasy league. At the same time, the show portrays Rafi as this disgusting person that nobody likes who even tries to make out with Jenny in the episode. The only reason Rafi is picked to go into the league instead of Jenny is because it’s funnier, due to the scene being set up so one-sided. The article goes on to say, “Prime-time television needs more strong and professionally accomplished women characters. Most shows are successful because they are relatable and have characters that we all hope to be like one day.” From a viewer’s perspective I think Jenny is a great female character, because she is so down to earth and not an over the top, highly sexualized, high maintenance bitch that you sometimes get from these types of shows.
Comparing The League to another masculine football show, Blue Mountain State, we can see various positive differences in the shows. While I remain a huge fan of Blue Mountain State, the show’s representation of female characters is always the same. Drunken party girls who have pillow fights with each other in their underwear running rampant throughout the college campus. Matt Gilbert from the Boston Globe seems to agree with this assessment in his article about Blue Mountain State in regards to female characters. “The women? Almost all of them are subservient students who apparently live to sleep with the football players. Only one, Craig’s girlfriend, Denise seems to have a name, and she’s a shrew who won’t sleep with him and who is obsessed with making him into a rich pro player”. What’s so great about The League, and this episode in particular, is that it flips one’s expectations of gender. In one scene at the club, Rafi has the idea that women love being sandwiched by two men, since two men love being sandwiched by two women on the dance floor. He of course makes everyone feel really uncomfortable, and turns into the fool of the party. Meanwhile, Jenny is in the VIP room talking football with Chad Ochocinco and having a blast. In the episode, Chad even says, “This girl knows her stuff. I would’ve put you in the league.” After having a pro football player vouch for her, Jenny’s credibility and moral standing sky rocket in the episode to where she is arguably the coolest character. Jenny even helps Ruxin, another male character in the League, draft a team so good he is forced to rosterbate to the lineup (self-explanatory I hope).
“The Vegas Draft” episode of The League did a fantastic job of challenging norms and expectations of gender. While the episode does not end with Jenny being accepted into the league, the viewer of the episode knows that she is clearly in the right. And I would argue that the turning point later in the show, when she is included in the league, is far greater because of this episode’s set-up.
Butt, Anaam. "'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Big Bang Theory' Promote Gender Stereotypes." PolicyMic. N.p., 03 May 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Gilbert, Matthew. "'Blue Mountain' Turf Is the Lewd and Crude." Boston.com. The New York Times, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
"The Vegas Draft" The League. FXX. 2010. Television.