Created By: MartyD82 on January 25, 2013 Last Edited By: BibsDibs on November 7, 2013

Battle Of The Sexes Episode

An episode centered around a game or contest pitting the men against the women.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Until about the turn of the millennium, a staple of ensemble cast comedies was the "Battle Of The Sexes" episode. This would be an episode involving some sort of contest between the men and the women. Usually, wacky gender-related hijinks would play out, and the contest would end either in a tie, a disqualification of some sort, or one gender handing the game to the other out of some form of guilt.

This has more-or-less become a Discredited Trope. It's almost impossible to make such an episode without having a ridiculous amount of gender stereotyping (after all, gender stereotypes are precisely what fuel this trope). And, in order to avoid stepping on too many toes, the outcome will almost always be one that's somehow fair to both genders, making this trope way too predictable for modern audiences. Super Trope to Macho Disaster Expedition

Examples:

  • Friends had two BOTS episodes: "The One With All The Poker" and "The One With The Football." Both played into just about every gender stereotype in the book, from Phoebe and Rachel not even knowing what the NFL is to Phoebe distracting Chandler with her breasts to gain control of the football.
  • Saved by the Bell had several episodes centered around this. For example, "The Will" (where a deceased graduate leaves a $10,000 inheritance to Bayside, resulting in a contest to see whether the guys or the girls get the money).
  • Hey Dude! also had several BOTS episodes, with even more gender stereotyping than Friends (case in point: the chanting the guys and girls do in the "Danny's Birthday" episode).
  • South Park had this plot in "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000." Unlike most other examples, however, the episode ended with one gender actually winning against the other (specifically, the boys beat the girls).
  • On the MythBusters: it was episode 183, original air date (US) April 22, 2012. The team tested several claims about one gender being "better" at something than another. (According to some online comments, there's another episode planned.) They also alluded to this during "No Pain, No Gain", when they looked at which gender has better pain tolerance.
  • When The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick did a crossover review of The Chipmunk Adventure the video escalated into the two of them having their own battle of the sexes in song.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • January 25, 2013
    lexicon
    Only your first example (friends) says how it applies to the idea. ("The chanting the guys and girls do" in Hey Dude doesn't tell me anything if I haven't seen it.) Where is the battle of the sexes in the other three? Please tell how this is different from Mars And Venus Gender Contrast and You Go Girl.
  • January 25, 2013
    MiinU
    @lexicon - Mars And Venus Gender Contrast is about both sides (men and women) being unable to comprehend each other.

    This is specifically about episodes featuring competition between the two sexes, which I think is tropable, since the closest I've seen to it is You Go Girl. But that's about the girls wanting to prove a point to the guys, and (more often than not) the narrative being scripted in their favor.

    This is simply about guys and girls competing at whatever, probably for a ridiculous reason, or just a not so serious one. But I do agree that only the Friends example seems to fit with what MartyD82 has in mind. Either the rest don't fit, or need better explanation.
  • January 25, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    I swear we already have this one; I'm pretty sure I was even looking at it recently.
  • January 25, 2013
    Chabal2
  • January 25, 2013
    MartyD82
    The Hey Dude episode was centered around some silly competition where the guys and the girls complained about all the chores they had to do, so they decided to hold a series of guys vs. girls contests (a cooking contest, a fishing contest, etc.), where the loser has to do the other gender's chores.

    The South Park episode had a B-plot which was a boys vs. girls sledding race, which of course had a lot of "my gender's better than yours" snarking.

    The Saved By The Bell episode showed the guys and girls engaging in a bunch of silly competitions against each other to get the $10,000 inheritance. There's even a "We're Bad!" chant the guys use to taunt the girls, which the girls later turn on the guys after the guys are found cheating in the contests (at which the girls, of course, get the $10,000).

    Hey Dude, in another episode, had a very similar plot where (I think) $100 was found, and the guys and girls get into a heated competition with each other to see who gets the money. Which includes things like a contest (judged by Lucy) to see which gender has the most creative method of spending it.

    For another straightforward example, Wild And Crazy Kids would sometimes have boy vs. girl competitions. IIRC, they almost always somehow ended in a tie.
  • January 25, 2013
    MaxWest
    All things considered...should we have No Real Life Examples Please?
  • January 25, 2013
    Psi001
    While there does seem some difference worthing noting, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between these tropes on occasion due to writers sometimes skewing things so as to avoid Unfortunate Implications. Positive Discrimination in some medias pretty much ensures the girls can never look as pathetic as the boy team in such situations for example, leaning it into a mix of this and You Go Girl (the Saved By The Bell example leans into this vein, since the boys are seen as chauvenistic and more underhanded than the girls. USA High had a reversal of this, the girls cheat and act unsportsmanlike and lose as a result).
  • January 25, 2013
    Desertopa
    I can only wonder what people might list as examples of such "episodes" in real life, but I don't think I'd be particularly happy to find out.

    I'm sure this was done on The Brady Bunch, and I recall a children's show with puppets (maybe The Puzzle Place?) which had an episode where the boys and girls competed in tug-of-war. The girls won with coordinated pulling against the boys' haphazard technique, but the boys issued a rematch when they discovered they had lost due to a gap in strategy (I don't remember who won the rematch.)

    Unfortunately, I don't remember enough about either example to make them suitable to add. Maybe this will jog someone else's memory?
  • January 26, 2013
    henke37
    • Mythbusters did it.
  • January 26, 2013
    MiinU
  • January 26, 2013
    MaxWest
    This trope happens in summer camp episodes/stories of some media. It's also fairly common in these camp setting to depict females as The Ace and the males as failing disastrously. This is a double standard that has triggered complaints over male bashing.

    The Peanuts TV special "It was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown" dealt with this trope, having the girls soundly defeat the boys in each and every event.

    The 1982 Arthur book Arthur Goes to Camp likewise has the girls beating the boys in every challenge. Towards the end, the two sides however work together in a scavenger hunt against a rival camp.
  • January 26, 2013
    TheAnswer
    • Chaotic plays this straight in the episode Battle of the Sexes Drome Match, the boys think male Chaotic Creatures are better but the girls say the opposite.
  • January 26, 2013
    MiinU

    Webcomics

    • The bonus story, in the third print edition of Eerie Cuties, has a Kade propose a game of Strip Trivial Pursuit, between himself and Ace versus their girlfriends, Layla and Brooke. The boys lose, due to Blaire rigging the game, which prompts Nina to burn it, then replace it with the Justin Beiber edition, which only she knew the answers to.
  • January 26, 2013
    Psi001
    • Done indirectly a few times with the male and female members of The Simpsons, almost always with the females proving far more competent. In "Call Of The Simpsons" for example, after the family get stuck in the woods, Bart and Homer search for help. Marge and Lisa stick behind and improve Homer's haphazardous means of shelter and manage soundly before finding assistance themselves, while Bart and Homer suffer endless pratfall after pratfall, lose all their clothes and get mistaken for Bigfoot.
    • An instance in The Flintstones involved the husbands and wives of the Flintstones and Rubbles making opposing camps. Given Fred's trademark chauvinism, he pretty much destined him and Barney to lose miserably (not that they stood much of a chance with Samantha Stephens on the girls' side anyway).
  • January 26, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    I was right, it DOES already exist, but the page is completely blank now:

    Battle Of The Sexes

    I guess it can be edited to include all of these examples.
  • January 26, 2013
    MiinU
    @justanotherrandomlurker - That doesn't mean it already exists. Even if it did, it may be blank for a reason. So it's best to continue working from here, and launch it properly, than to just edit in examples on a blank page that may be taken down later.
  • January 26, 2013
    CaveCat
    • There have been quite a number of Little Lulu comic stories, where Lulu and, occasionally, Annie find themselves pitted against Tubby, Willy, Eddy, and Iggy, in an activity of some sorts.
  • January 26, 2013
    Dacilriel
    When The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick did a crossover review of The Chipmunk Adventure the video escalated into the two of them having their own battle of the sexes in song.
  • January 27, 2013
    MartyD82
    I don't think real life examples should be allowed with this trope. They rarely go beyond pre-planned summer camp events and silly competitions like "which sex is quicker to change clothes before swim practice." So there wouldn't be much (if anything) to say about this.
  • January 27, 2013
    MartyD82
    Actually, Friends sort of had a third episode in TOW The Embryos. Although that episode was more a circumstance of Monica/Rachel and Chandler/Joey living in opposite apartments than any kind of gender-related competition.
  • January 27, 2013
    grinch
    The Midsomer Murders episode, "Four Funerals and a Wedding".
  • January 28, 2013
    Frank75
    Does this have to involve several men and women each? Or would one man competing against one woman also count?
  • January 28, 2013
    MartyD82
    I think one man competing against one woman could count, provided there's a clear gender-related competition going on (ie. it's not like the Friends episode I mentioned a couple posts back).
  • January 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an early episode of The Brady Bunch the boys and girls have a house-of-cards-building contest to see which group would use the Green Stamps the family had collected. (The boys want a rowboat and the girls want a sewing machine.) Whoever puts a card up and collapses the house loses for their side. The family dog jumps up on Bobby and knocks Bobby into the house, making the boys the losers. But the girls end up getting something everyone will be able to use: a TV.

    In another episode the boys have a clubhouse in the backyard the girls want to be allowed into. They decide to build their own, but do it so poorly that the boys will be forced to "help" by building it themselves. Of course neither one is seen again after that one episode.
  • January 30, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    The game show Chain Reaction (the '00s version) always pits a team of three men against a team of three women, although no sexual differences or stereotypes are played on generally. The show is promoted as a battle of the sexes ("it's guys against girls"), however.
  • January 30, 2013
    NESBoy
    In the Futurama episode "Neutopia", a rock alien notices a feud between the men and women and pits them against each other. It eventually turned out that the whole thing was a Secret Test Of Character that horribly failed.
  • March 6, 2013
    MiinU
    bump
  • March 6, 2013
    MsCC93
    In one episode of Pokemon, Ash and May have a tiff and they both battle against each other with both Jessie and James.
  • March 6, 2013
    Generality
    • QI episode "Girls and Boys" had two male panelists and two females on opposite sides of the table, and the main topic of discussion was the sexes.

    I need confirmation on this, but I think Survivor did one season (perhaps more) with an all-male and all-female tribe.
  • March 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Do the "teams" have to be plural? I'm thinking of a few times on The Brady Bunch where Greg & Marcia have a one-on-one battle of the sexes competition, and another time where Mike & Carol (dad & mom) try to out-do the other in an A Day In Her Apron/A Day In His Sneakers plot.

    And of course the infamous tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.
  • March 7, 2013
    NESBoy
    South Park had a litteral Battle of the Sexes when the lessons taught by Mr. Mackey and Ms. Choksondik fail to work out effectively in the episode "Proper Condom Use".
  • March 7, 2013
    Antigone3
    On the Myth Busters example mentioned upthread: it was episode 183, original air date (US) April 22, 2012. The team tested several claims about one gender being "better" at something than another. (According to some online comments, there's another episode planned.) They also alluded to this during "No Pain, No Gain", when they looked at which gender has better pain tolerance.
  • April 4, 2013
    MartyD82
    I don't think the teams necessarily need to be plural. As long as there's some kind of gender-related competition, and it's the main focus of the episode, it fits this trope.

    The old Nickelodeon outdoor sporting gameshow Wild And Crazy Kids had a battle of the sexes episode with three different guys vs. girls competitions. IIRC, the girls won one competition, the guys won the next, and the final competition ended in a tie (although, truth be told, I think the coach just didn't want to be bothered tallying up the results for that game, so she just declared it a tie instead).

    The two Brady Bunch episodes definitely count. Especially with their blatant gender stereotyping.
  • April 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Then, to expand on my "a few times on Brady Bunch" comment:
    • In the episode where Marica gets her drivers license, Greg comments that men are better drivers than women, so they have a driving competition with the loser having to do the winner's chores for a week. Greg loses.
    • When Marcia is filmed for a news program saying "women can do anything men can" Greg takes her up on it. She joins the Bradyverse verion of the Boy Scouts and does well, while Peter joins the Girl Scouts [note] Greg is too old to join so he makes his younger brother do it[/note] and fares poorly.
    • Mike & Carol trade household jobs for a day: Mike has a terrible time teaching the girls to cook for a Girl Scout merit badge, while Carol has an equally terrible time teaching the boys how to play baseball. They both try to cover it up though, saying that it was an easy job.
  • April 24, 2013
    MartyD82
    So, is it perhaps safe to say that this trope is ready for publishing? We have enough examples, I think (even though they're mostly television-related).

    As a sidenote, the "unclaimed money leads to a battle of the sexes to see who gets it" plot seems to be, in and of itself, a pretty standard Kid Com trope I've noticed. I should probably mention it in the main description.
  • November 7, 2013
    XFllo
    Bumping.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xjveyjkyil4u8f9lztnb84b3