Funny Women Empower

Pineda, M. L. C. (2016). Funny women empower: A semiotic and self-reflexive analysis of the representations of selected lead female television comedy characters and of the self, and women empowerment. (Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis). University of the Philippines, College of Mass Communication.


The study aims to determine how I, as a woman and a Filipina, am empowered by television shows in the media, specifically through the representations of the lead characters of female-driven television comedies. This is achieved through a textual and a self-reflexive analysis.

Through a textual analysis guided by Ferdinand de Saussure and Roland Barthes’ semiotic tradition, the study identifies and describes the representations of the female lead characters, namely Leslie Knope, Mindy Lahiri, Jane Villanueva, and Kimmy Schmidt, in their respective television comedies. With the character as text, the study observed her verbal and nonverbal cues, physical attributes, relationship status, and actions in the narrative. The thesis conceives meaningful connections and nuances of the female lead characters’ representations with the concept of women empowerment, aided by Naila Kabeer’s three dimensions of women empowerment. To further examine these representations and findings, the study turns to the anthropology of the self, where I, the self, also become text. Inspired by Ien Ang’s study of women viewers and the television soap opera Dallas, I relate the representations with my own thoughts and experiences as a woman viewer and as a Filipina who believes she identifies with and is empowered by these leading ladies in television comedies.

Ultimately, the study’s goal is to highlight the significance of female-driven television comedy characters in the pursuit of women empowerment through entertainment media. The author hopes that this study shall encourage media practitioners to create more profound and inspiring female lead characters not just in comedy, but also in other genres here in the Philippines and around the world.


Keywords: women empowerment, television comedy, representation, semiotics, self-reflexivity