Follow TV Tropes

Following

Male Gaze / Live-Action TV

Go To


  • An increasingly common pose in cable period dramas like The Tudors and The White Queen is where a man stands behind a woman to "seductively" help her out of her gown (which fastens in the back), purely by coincidence allowing for an unobstructed view of her breasts when he slips the gown from her shoulders.

  • In an episode of Season 8 of 24, Chloe, queen of sarcasm, is berating a colleague for not doing his job properly because he's checking out Katie Sackhoff. As she leaves, she sarcastically asks why he doesn't just stare at her rear as she walks away. So he and the camera does.
  • Advertisement:
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon knows all about this trope. Her 'mentee' Hazel Wassername however...
    Hazel: When I confronted him about it he was so condescending! He laughed at me, then he undressed me with his eyes; then he had his way with me, with his eyes.
    Liz: Ugh, the Male Gaze...
    Hazel: Yeah, they're all a bunch of gays...
  • The Affair: Noah's recollection of events feature a lot of shots from his POV where he certainly notices Alison's figure.
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Face My Enemy", May's first appearance is a slow pan up her legs, getting out of a car in a short party dress.
  • In Angel Cordillera invokes this frequently and sometimes intentionally.
    • Squick-example in "I Fall to Pieces" as the a Stalker with a Crush uses his power to watch his obsession undress as a floating detached eyeball.
    • In Season 5 Joss Whedon commented Amy Acker's legs during the DVD commentary.
      • Speaking of the fifth season, Nina invokes this in and out of universe as one of Hilarious Outtakes has Jenny Mollen (Nina) get out of a car after while David Boreanaz (Angel) watches her behind then he turns to camera and gives a mischievous grin.
  • Advertisement:
  • Actually a plot point on American Horror Story: Murder House. Moira is Dead All Along, but Ben still sees her as a sexy redhead in a fetish maid outfit while Vivian sees her as an old woman. Lampshaded when Moira says men see what they want to while women see into a person's soul.
  • The slow, slow pan up from 80's-hookerwear-clad Alex Drake's feet in the Ashes to Ashes (2008) pilot. (She went for a really unlikely length of time without changing clothes.)
  • In-universe in an episode of Baby Daddy: while filming Bonnie and toddler versions of Ben and Danny in a restaurant, Ray is distracted by the behind of a male employee and turns his camera towards the guy.
  • Battlestar Galactica. In "Sacrifice" Starbuck has been called on to handle a hostage situation while on leave on Cloud Nine, so she's briefing the marines in a cocktail dress. When her eyes go off them for a second the camera quickly dips down to her cleavage, mimicking what the marines are undoubtedly looking at in that moment.
Advertisement:
  • The Big Bang Theory: Penny, the show's only major female character, starts off as a generic girlfriend character with no purpose except to look cute. Thankfully, the writers eventually gave her a personality and role beyond eye-candy. NPR article. However, promos for the series, including billboards, magazine ads, and even TV bumpers, constantly plaster her in the foreground, with the other characters in the background, thus making it seems like the series is about a hot blonde girl that nerds obsessively fawn over.
  • The unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduces our heroine with a close-up of Sarah Michelle Gellar's legs under the hem of her short skirt as she enters Sunnydale High.
  • Burn Notice, an otherwise excellent show, adores this trope. Their idea of an "establishing shot" seems to be an aerial view of Miami, and then a rather longer shot of random bikini-clad T&A jiggling by. Faces are optional. They also use these shots as the occasional bumper between scenes. Semi-justified, since Micheal hung out at the beach after getting burned, knowing suit-wearing bad guys would stick out.
    • This may be a harkening back to Miami Vice, which put two of these occurrences in the opening credits.
  • An episode of Castle featuring a slain plastic surgeon lingers for rather longer than strictly necessary on a patient of his who has rather obviously had a lot of work done. Castle notices, too, and Beckett wonders aloud what it is with men and boobs.
    Castle: (matter-of-factly) Biological. We can't help it.
    Beckett: Doesn't it bother you that they're so obviously not real?
    Castle: Santa's not real. We still like opening his presents.
  • Charlie's Angels naturally had its fair share of this, though rarely involving the Angels themselves. One early episode, for example, begins a scene focusing, for absolutely no reason, on the rear end of a shapely woman playing pool in a bar before finally panning over to where Sabrina is interrograting someone.
  • Charmed (1998) became rather notorious for this in its fifth and sixth seasons - which was outright said to be an attempt to draw more male viewers. Alyssa Milano in particular found herself baring her midriff or getting turned into a Cute Monster Girl with the accompanying camera work. The most egregious example is when she is turned into a mermaid - and the camera zooms up her torso to the barely-covered breasts. This was toned down in the final two seasons, after protests from the actresses.
  • Chuck's Sarah Walker has been the subject of a quite a few male gaze moments. Most of the time the camera plays it straight, because honestly, you don't need to work hard to make the sight of Yvonne Strahovski in her underwear look sexy. But sometimes it goes into outright leering territory, from Chuck's fantasy of her cartwheeling into the Buy More in her Orange Orange tank top to the shots from behind when she was dressed in only a tank top and panties. At least Chuck himself is respectful of women.
    • Averted just the once when Morgan got his own Buy More Wind Machine moment in "Chuck Versus the Tooth".
    • In "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death", they went out of their way with the gaze when it came to Greta, both in terms of the show's camera angles and in-character camera shots as the Buy More team stalked her around the building.
      • The very first shot of Greta was a very slow pan up the legs of Greta #1 (Olivia Munn) as she walked (in slow-mo) towards Chuck and Morgan upon their entering the Buy More in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary".
  • Spoofed in Cybill, when the title character starred in an X-Files rip-off called Lifeforms. The pilot episode featured countless shots of her legs and cleavage and very few of her face. This annoys her at first, but Cybill soon uses the fact that her legs are the most popular thing in the show to bully the male star and showrunner into rehiring the original creator.
  • Daredevil (2015): In some of Matt Murdock and Karen Page's more intimate moments.
    • In the very first episode, we see Karen strip her T-shirt off in front of Matt when changing into one of his dress shirts, and it's obvious from Matt's reaction that he notices she's naked.
    • In the fourth episode of season 2, they have their first kiss in the rain. Leading into the kiss, we get some very gratuitous close-ups as Matt brushes raindrops off Karen's arm and face, using the visual shorthand of conveying to the audience what exactly Matt is feeling.
  • Dark Angel has this in spades. With hundreds of shots of Jessica Alba's buttocks (most notably in the pilot when Logan catches Max robbing him, and in the episode "Haven" where we get a shot of Max bending over a pool table which actually is from the POV of a male character - he even says "Just enjoying the view"). Half the time that Alec's on a mission with Max or standing next to her, etc. His gaze never goes above her neckline. And then there was "Fuhgeddaboudit", which began with a pan up our heroine's legs clad in a very short skirt.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Much of the surviving footage of "The Myth Makers" is homemade, amateur 8mm shots recorded off the screen. These shots thoroughly ignore the Doctor and Steven and focus exclusively on Vicki. Adventures With the Wife in Space pointed this out, and speculated that the cinematographer might have fancied the actress.
    • Blogger El Sandifer had this to say about Victoria, comparing the scene of her being menaced by an Ice Warrior to a scene of Barbara being menaced by a Dalek. While both scenes show attractive, frightened women being menaced by monsters, he observes that the camera is almost always positioned to show Barbara's face, so we relate to Barbara in the scene even when we go into the Dalek's Shaky P.O.V. Cam. We are supposed to feel afraid because we are sharing Barbara's fear. Victoria is presented much more distantly and the focus is on her little body rather than on her face, only seen so we can gasp at how pretty it is and how horrible it is that the monster is chasing her. There is also a shot, very odd at this time, of her squeezing her hands together divorced from anything else, that he related to "fragmenting" her body. We are meant to be afraid because a pretty person is in danger.
    • The scene in "The Mind Robber" where Jamie and Zoe are clinging to the console, which has been framed to very prominently display Wendy Padbury's bottom while she wears a sequin-covered catsuit.
    • Jo Grant climbing through a window in "The Sea Devils" is framed to put her bottom at the centre of the frame.
    • "The Mutants" has a scene where Jo has been poisoned by an atmosphere toxic to her physiology and her kidnapper Ky has dragged her to safety and put an oxygen mask on her. There follows an extreme closeup of Jo's underboob heaving as Ky pushes on her rib cage to make her breathe, in a sequence that lasts for a good twenty seconds.
    • Gets some You Bastard! in "Carnival of Monsters", in which Jo complains that anyone who would find it fun watching her running from monsters must be "evil and horrible".
    • "Death to the Daleks" opens with a tedious (or fascinating, depending on your point of view) sequence in which Elizabeth Sladen is marching around the TARDIS in a bikini.
    • The pan-up-the-legs shot is spoofed in the introduction shot of the Doctor in Episode 2 of "Robot", which does a long pan up his scarf, up his body.
    • On the DVD commentary on "The Ark in Space", Tom Baker appreciatively points out every shot which focuses on Elizabeth Sladen's legs or breasts, of which there are several. He also enjoys the shot of his and Ian Marter's bums shaking up and down side by side in Episode 1.
    • Oddly averted with Leela, whose Stripperific Parent Service outfit and the contemporary Moral Guardian pressure on the show meant focusing on her body would be inappropriate. Camera operators and directors at the time complained about how her outfit made the show difficult to shoot and block, in case the camera accidentally caught an eyeful. The result is that she gets more focus on her face (or on her whole body in a non-sexualised manner) than most of her predecessors did, which is one of the reasons Leela ends up coming across as being as strong as she does. Her introductory shot in "The Face of Evil" is a profile of her face; and when she first meets the Doctor, he gets the pan-up-the-legs shot.
    • In "The Robots of Death", Toos spends a lot of the plot lying around in a clam-shaped bed in see-through pyjamas and high heels with the camera wedged up her rear.
    • Romana I is introduced via a pan up her entire body.
    • Peri was introduced with a pan up her bikini-clad body. In one of the few episodes directed by a woman, oddly. Since the producer insisted on Peri revealing as much flesh as possible, the director may not have had a say in the matter.
    • The Fifth Doctor's death scene was notoriously upstaged by a camera that spent more time exploring the insides of Peri's blouse than Peter Davison's anguished, dying face.
    • Peri was brought back in the awful "Dimensions in Time" Who/EastEnders crossover short. One of the scenes was of her boinging across the square in a low-cut top... towards the camera.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace" has a pan across Billie Piper's tight T-shirt and jeans-clad body.
    • "The Satan Pit": When Rose is crawling through a maintenance duct on her hands and knees, we get a shot of her rear... but she takes offence when the guy following behind her doesn't like it.
      Rose: [crawling behind Danny] Not your best angle, Danny.
      Danny: Oi, stop it.
      Toby: [behind Rose] I don't know, could be worse.
      Rose: OI!
    • Amy Pond's introduction as an adult, in a strong contrast with Rose, Martha, and Donna's first appearances, was a slow lingering shot from her legs up, while she was dressed in her police woman kissogram costume. Complete with Shaking Her Hair Loose when she takes off her cap.
    • River's (re)introduction in "The Time of Angels" is a pan from her shoes up her body.
    • In-Universe in "The Magician's Apprentice", which features Davros leering over a viewscreen watching Clara about to get murdered by Daleks, and drooling over it in upsettingly sexual tones. Since one of the chief pleasures of Doctor Who is watching pretty people be tormented by Daleks there definitely is a You Bastard! feel about it, here.
    • Some people on Tumblr had issues with Clara's confrontation with the Quantum Shade in "Face the Raven", which is in a side-on shot with her breasts, in a very tight jumper, at dead centre of frame.
    • Due to the high number of gay writers, directors and producers making Doctor Who, gay male gaze appears as well:
      • Pans over Turlough's bare legs and booty shorts in "Planet of Fire" — the idea of the gay male producer, who thought it was only fair considering Peri.
      • "The Lodger" features some gay male gaze when a naked Doctor comes haring down the corridor with a pan from his hips up the front of his body (although everything dodgy is hidden by the angle, motion and editing).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The camera basically becomes Jory's POV during his Distracted by the Sexy moment in "The Wolf and the Lion".
    • In "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", the camera lingers on Talisa lying naked in bed while Robb lampshades it by asking how he's supposed to get any work done.
  • Inverted in the Glee episode "Frenemies". At the end of the "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" number, Tina pushes Artie off his wheelchair, and we are treated to a brief close-up of his buttocks, of all things, as he crashes to the floor.
  • In British gardening show Ground Force, the cameraman is extremely skilled at getting downblouse shots on notoriously bra-less gardener Charlie Dimmock. Her omission of bra and preference for t-shirts with low or loose necks assured a large male following for the show, some of whom even knew which end of a spade goes in the ground. And the same camera team also knew their business when it rained and Charlie was working in the wet...
    • Time Team isn’t completely unknown for this, either...
  • Cuddy from House wears unusually tight clothing for a professional woman, and the camera increasingly lingers on her rear or cleavage as the series goes on. Her strip scene in House's fantasy at the end of season 4.
  • iCarly has Sam, whose butt gets a good amount of camera shots in the later seasons. In "iSaved Your Life", Carly actually slapped Sam's butt. Sam doesn't seem to mind though, and she leaves the room with a smile on her face.
  • The second episode of Into the Badlands features a pan up the entirety of the Widow's black-leather-clad body.
  • Iron Fist (2017): Madame Gao's sales reps deliberately show off their cleavage, legs, or bend over, while advertising Gao's heroin to a seemingly lesbian doctor, a businessman, and a Russian drug dealer respectively.
  • Every episode of the 2008 Knight Rider series has one of the lead females run around in a bikini or underwear for some obscure reason.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Many shots of women linger on their breasts, helped by them wearing low-cut dresses.
  • In Lifetime's A Deadly Adoption, Robert scans the pregnant Bridgette while she's sunning herself, and the camera takes in her legs and cleavage while notably skipping her baby bump. Which is fake anyway, even in-universe.
  • Mad Men has the walking, talking embodiment of this trope in Joan Holloway. There's a so-meta-it-hurts shot in an early episode where they're brainstorming for Belle Jolie that has Joan approach what she knows is two-way glass (with a bunch of horny ad execs behind it), turn around, and bends over. The camera goes right where you'd expect it to. Given later events in the series, and how Joan develops over time, the scene is far from gratuitous. The irony, of course, is that the character, and the actress, are more renowned for another part of her anatomy.
  • Kelly Hu spent a fair proportion of the pilot episode of Martial Law hanging around in a bikini.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has fun with this trope when it is used in the experiments, including defiling (Tom: Okay, we get it. BREASTS!), aversions (Mike: Wow, dangerously steep stairs there! Tom: You're looking at the stairs, Mike?) and everything in between.
  • Narcos: There are some loving shots when a U.S. drug lawyer working for Felix admires his wife's body in a "Let's Get Physical"-type workout outfit from the breakfast table.
  • In NCIS, Tony got busted for Male Gaze, not once but twice within the episode "Driven". And this was after the Sensitivity Training in the beginning of the episode. First he decided to snap a picture of Ziva's tightly-clad backside when she bends over at a crime scene. Result: Gibbs Slap. Later when he's on a special mission for Jenny and was wearing special camera glasses, he was caught looking at the rears of passing women and had to be reminded to "keep his eyes on the prize".
  • The Painkiller Jane TV series used this a couple of times in the assassination plot/time loop episode: we get to see Jane put her pants on over that nice black pair of panties (from the front, showing off her nice legs), and see the barely-clad buttocks of the girl Connor was having sex with...
  • In the Person of Interest episode "Booked Solid" Pennsylvania's Sexy Secretary, Ms. May enters his office wearing a tight dress. Before we see her face, the camera only shows her rather large behind. However this does serve to draw out the Reveal Shot that she's actually sociopathic hacker and Master of Disguise Root.
  • Power Rangers Turbo: Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (the second one) gives the camera a definite fixation on then Pink Ranger Kat, most notably a very blatant buttocks shot during a jungle scene. Tanya, the then Yellow, seems to escape this.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon also featured a blatant buttocks shot as Rei, dressed as a pop star for a pseudo-concert, walked towards her dressing room. This show was a live-action one about five Magical Girls in schoolgirl outfits; a large portion of the show featured significant Male Gaze on general principle.
  • Ru Pauls Drag Race is shot this way, both for the fanservicey "Pit Crew" and for the contests in drag. And at least one, but more often two or three challenges per season will be photography-based - Invoking this trope.
  • In episode "Sabrina Unplugged" of the show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, protagonist Sabrina Spellman is given a revealing red dress, a hair bleaching and has her breasts and butt accidentally enlarged by a co-worker with to a photoshop-like program from a magical computer she had teleported into (suspension of disbelief for silliness required). Though the episode's theme is about body image and how people shouldn't focus too much on how people look, the camera doesn't hesitate to spend most of the episode focused on actress Melissa Joan Hart's enhanced cleavage.
  • On Seacht, kisses between Lipstick Lesbian couples far outnumber any others.
  • In the Comedy Central series Secret Girlfriend, the camera is at all times the POV of the main (male) character, a Heroic Mime who is "played" by the (presumably male) viewer, in a form of second-person television.
  • Slings & Arrows does an appropriately meta version of this: the husband of the Minister of Culture comes to several performances, and brings binoculars. There's always a brief shot through the binoculars, in which we see that he's focusing on the lead actress's cleavage.
  • Smallville: Camera focusing mostly on Lana Lang's body (her body-double's, actually) doing cartwheels in a tiny red bathing suit in episode "Nicodemus". Half of the episode "Exposed", which features plenty of gorgeous, mostly naked strippers, including Lois Lane. Half of the scenes with Lois Lane in general, e.g. "Aqua": Lois getting out of the water, wearing the tiniest bikini that could be found while the camera crawls lovingly over her body in (what else) slow motion.
  • When Rachel Luttrell was pregnant on Stargate Atlantis and her chest grew accordingly, directors always made sure that her cleavage stayed in frame, even at the expense of the top half of the heads of main characters who dared to be standing and talking while Teyla sat.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Let He Who Is Without Sin" featured a pointless close-up of Vanessa Williams' rear as she walked past the camera.
    • Any episode of Star Trek set on Risa features this in spades.
  • Supernatural seem to go out of their way to try and balance it out. To make up for the cleavage shots, we get a Sammy-In-A-Towel coming out of the shower. To make up for the demon sluttiness, we get two women in "The Kids Are Alright" ogling Dean's arse and obviously thinking that they would love to have him as a sex toy. And while they certainly have a hot woman every episode, they pay just as much loving attention to the male leads' attributes - even going as far to pan up a sleeping Dean's naked legs in an early Season One episode.
  • Happens from time to time on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • There are regular long, slow tracking shots of Cameron's well-formed behind as she slowly, deliberately walks along.
    • One of Jesse's early scenes is a swimming pool scene that gives a lot of attention to her bikini-clad body. This may have been a deliberate attempt to make the audience think that she was just there as a love interest for Derek, rather than being the major player and ruthless Manipulative Bastard that she actually is.
  • The first episode of That70s Show features a POV shot as Eric goes into Donna's house. When Donna's mom appears, the camera goes straight to her cleavage.
  • Lampshaded on Top Gear, when May is at a Southern California beach talking about the Honda FCX. The cameraman turns to focus on a trio of convenient volleyball-playing girls, and May has to clear his throat to get his attention back.
  • Both present and averted in True Blood lots of lingering shots of sexy women dancing, breasts, butts, and legs, but also shots of naked men's bottoms, chests, clothed crotches, and the like. Mostly uses Jason Stackhouse, but Sam and Lafayette get shown that way too.
  • The first episode of UFO opens with a hemline-level view of a mini-skirted dolly bird sashaying away from the camera. It might have been set in The Eighties, but the mentality was strictly that of The '70s!
  • The Ultimate Fighter spends the vast, vast majority of its focus on the fighters, and has done a generally very good job of avoiding this trope on the female fighters or the gender-flipped version on the males, though it's impossible to avoid Fanservice with the outfits the fighters wear for their sport. On the other hand, there are always close-ups of the ring girls' butts and often their breasts as well.
  • Referenced in Victorious' (a Nickelodeon Kid Com) song "Take A Hint":
    Get your hands off my hips
    Before I punch you in the lips
    Stop your staring at my—Hey!
    Take a hint, take a hint
  • In the second episode of the first season of The Walking Dead, there is a shot that follows Amy while she is walking to Lori with a bucket of mushrooms. You are able to see her butt while she is walking for about 20 seconds in this scene.
  • Wonder Woman: Surprisingly rarely used. Both Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl get this from lots of people in their first appearances. Generally averted after that as the entire world seems to accept a gorgeous woman in a swimsuit leaping tall buildings and lifting cars as the status quo.
  • Really strong in the introduction to Xena: Warrior Princess - the camera pans up her legs as she fastens her boots, up her body, lingers on her breasts as she fastens the straps of her armor, etc. Occurred pretty frequently in the show as well, especially any that involved Xena dancing.
  • The X-Files episode directed by Gillian Anderson starts with the Male Gaze (camera just below armpit level, directed past Scully's bosom) and turns to Female Gaze (Mulder asleep in bed).


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report