Recess! was an animated television series that told the stories of the lives of six elementary school children as they interacted with other children, teachers, and parents. TJ, Vince, Ashley, Gus, Gretchen, and Mikey, the six best friends that made up the base of the show, represented a wide variety of stereotypes. TJ was the typical All-American boy, Vince was the stereotyped super athletic African American kid, Ashley represented the punk look, Gus was the nerdy smart friend, Gretchen was the awkward gangly girl, and Mikey was the overweight but lovable funny kid. The show portrays the strict hierarchy and social order that exists in the whole 4th grade, including one child being “King Bob” and the stereotypical popular girls, “The Ashleys”. The first episode was aired in 1997 on ABC, and continued until 2001. After, reruns were played on the Disney Channel. I remember as an 8 year old waking up on Saturday mornings and hoping I wasn’t too late to watch my favorite Saturday morning cartoon, as we didn’t have cable and therefore didn’t have the Disney Channel to watch reruns on. In our course packet, Segel talks about the gender issues in childhood reading (67-78). Certain books are deemed “boy books” and others “girls books”. The same issue arises when children’s cartoons and TV shows lean too far towards one gender or the other. Kim Possible is a girl hero, so boys can’t like her! Recess mixed in an equal amount of gender roles into their show, making it a gender neutral production and good for acceptable sexes to like. However, it went further than that. Because the six main characters represented six vastly different stereotypes, a lot of kids could see themselves being like one of the main group (besides the gender differences). Usually a show wouldn’t focus around a normal African American boy who was really good at sports, but Recess had Vince in there to let to athletic kids feel a connection. The same stands for the rest of the characters. Recess didn’t show kids who had crazy superpowers or children who dealt with evil witches, it just had a group of normal fourth graders that every child could relate to. I believe it was so popular because every viewer could relate to their favorite character and the problems the group faced.
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