Beyond the Frames: Unveiling the Depth of Early 2000s South and Southeast Asian Female Characters




Mangadu, Preethi

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The early 2000s was a time of Juicy Couture, iPods, Beyblades, and more, but it was also when multiculturalism was starting to be reflected more in English-language films and shows. South and Southeast Asian women were a group who began to be showcased but were only authentically portrayed on occasion. This research uses framing theory to see how early 2000s media depicted and viewed South and Southeast Asian women through stereotypes and archetypes. To explore further, this study analyzes how Jess Bharma from Bend It Like Beckham and London Tipton from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody are framed through feminist and critical race theories and compares them to broadly known stereotypes and archetypes derived from those theories such as “the nerd,” “the comedic relief”, and the “exotic other.” Before going further, it is important to note that this project is severely limited as South and Southeast Asians, especially women, were not given lead roles in English-language media as often, especially with character traits that differed from common stereotypes, so when Jess and London were, audiences perceived them as exceeding the norm. This research compares these characters, stereotypes, and archetypes to identify whether Jess’s and London’s individuality beyond stereotypes is surface level, fully developed, or a little bit of both. These results then discuss how the characters socially mirror the creator’s worldview, which can further reflect collective societal and individual perceptions and give a lens into a fragment of the early 2000s.



South Asian women, Southeast Asian women, framing theory, stereotypes, archetypes, Bend It Like Beckham, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Bharma, Jess, Tipton, London, feminist theory, post colonial theory


Mangadu, P. (2023). Beyond the frames: Unveiling the depth of early 2000s South and Southeast Asian female characters. Honors College, Texas State University.


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