A Woman’s Just A Prop

This is something I meant to jot down a long time ago, probably about a year. There are probably a million examples of this, but the one that really caught my attention (and ire) was as follows:

Thomas Gibson and Jenna Elfman both starred on Dharma & Greg. Thomas Gibson’s next project was/is Criminal Minds. When that show first started airing, the ads for it included highlighting Mr. Gibson’s participation in the project. I remember the ads being very straightforward. They mentioned him, along with the other names who were to appear on the show.

About a year later, Jenna Elfman made an attempt to return to the small screen with a sitcom. Naturally, the marketing was slightly different for this genre. The network, though, did draw upon her name and status in the ads. That’s about where the similarity ended. Where Mr. Gibson got straight shots, Ms. Elfman was shown in skimpy clothing, with wind blowing through her hair, as she struck sexy poses. Nary a word was said about what the show was ABOUT – just that it starred this body hot woman. In one ad, as the camera panned across her body, they described her using metaphors that made her stop, look directly into the camera and say, “What am I, a car?”

Cute, right? Not really. Something tells me that kind of advertising would never have even been entertained for Mr. Gibson, even if he had a starring role in another sitcom. Why not? He’s certainly an attractive man. How many times does this happen – a male star gets credit, but a female star gets…used as a prop.



  1. scarlett says

    What I find especially interesting is that Jenna Elfman was easily the most well-known of the two. You’d think SHE’D be the one getting the more praise/credible promotions.

  2. DragonLadyK says

    I’m trying to imagine sex-appeal-based marketing for Criminal Minds, specifically Hotch: Hotch who bulldozes anyone who stands between him and accomplishing the goal like a steamroller running over a pop can (commonly known in fandom as Hotchalanche), and Hotch who was told to “take off your tie for once in your life.” I can’t see it. I can’t see Ed Bernero going for it for one — CM is a thinking show if there ever was one — and I can’t see it attracting the demographic they are after for another.

    Secondly, I don’t think men in general are comfortable with the fact that women objectify/ogle them in the same way they objectify/ogle women. Therefore, marketing the guy eye-candy (and Thomas Gibson is that) squicks them.

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