Within recent discourses about parenting, the concept of equal parenting and fathering is a prominent theme. I have chosen two popular television shows that portray families to see if they represent ideas about equal parenting. I have identified three prominent themes that researchers agree comprise equal parenting: parents' equal power in decision-making, fathers challenging masculine gender expectations by actively nurturing children, and fathers sharing household duties. The findings of this thesis conclude that the television shows Parenthood and Modern Family are contradictory in their representations of equal parenting themes. Parenthood has strong examples of equal parenting, but remains more conservative in the representation of traditional gender roles, while Modern Family's representation of family is more liberal, not enforcing gender expectations on the family with two gay fathers, yet the fathers with different-sex partners are not allotted the same flexibility in their gender roles.


Jocelyn Stitt

First Committee Member

Laura Harrison

Second Committee Member

Emily Boyd

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Gender and Women's Studies


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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