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The Unfair Sex / Live-Action TV

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Examples of The Unfair Sex in live-action TV.


    Subgenres 
  • Possibly due to the fact that they're mostly geared towards women, who still make up the bulk of viewers, Soap Operas often display this:
    • There was a situation during the mid-'90s on General Hospital that was very similar to the ELR example mentioned above with Super Couple Sonny and Brenda. Throughout their entire relationship, Brenda acted very inappropriately with her friend Miguel — hanging all over him, suggestively dancing with him, going on and on about how hot and sexy he was, etc. But if Sonny dared to complain about any of this, Brenda would blast as him as a controlling pig who didn't know how to trust her. Meanwhile, Sonny befriended Miguel's fiancee Lily, only for Brenda to go ballistic everytime she saw the two of them talking. As far as she was concerned, her provocative behavior with Miguel was perfectly okay, but Sonny merely talking to Lily was on par with him cheating on her — to the point where not two seconds after giving Miguel a long, lingering hug, she blasted Sonny for taking a few minutes to greet Lily. This continued even after Sonny and Brenda broke up, when Brenda jumped into bed with Miguel within 48 hours then did everything she could think of to throw it in Sonny's face, but still got ticked off everytime she saw Sonny and Lily together. At no time did it ever occur to Brenda how hypocritical and irrational she was being, and the writing was constantly skewed to make it seem as though she were in the right.
    • In the early-'90s on All My Children. Adam Chandler discovers that his ex-wife Dixie has been sleeping around and that her latest conquest is a barely-legal teenage boy who just graduated from high school. At this, he decides to file for full custody of their son. Everyone blasts Adam for his actions and as a cruel, evil bastard when he has every right to be concerned about Dixie's mental stability and her fitness as a parent, and absolutely no one calls Dixie out for her irresponsible and promiscuous behavior. Especially bad since Dixie would try to wrestle custody from Adam over anything he did.
  • Tabloid talk shows tend to wander into this trope on a regular basis, be it deliberate or unintentional in nature; without going into too much detail on specific examples, there seems to be a significant bias in favour of women when it comes to issues like cheating and theft.

    Specific examples 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    • Dr. Albright and Nina getting mad at Dick for finally meeting and constantly talking about a woman in “Auto Eurodicka”, despite the fact that the two constantly joke about Dr Albright’s promiscuity and later actually cheating on Dick being played for laughs.
    • There is also the fact that he was trying to date and in fact had dated other woman for weeks after they broke up. Yet he was presented as in the wrong when he finally found someone
  • Agent Carter: Howard Stark has a lot of one night stands, so everyone assumes he is a user who is incapable of respecting women. In fact Howard was perfectly capable of respecting women (as evidenced by his decades-long platonic friendship with Peggy), and the women are all consenting adults who were promised nothing. Still, the women felt so entitled to revenge that they thought it was acceptable to slap Howard's butler in the face, while Peggy stood idly by and enjoyed the show.
  • An episode of Baby Daddy has Ben and Riley's old friend Katie about to marry her highschool sweetheart. However, the night before the bride's big day, it appears Ben and Katie got drunk and slept together. Ben is rightfully chastised by his mother and Riley due to the implications. However Katie escapes any and all blame as everyone, the bride included, blames Ben for ruining the wedding and no-one thinks for a second to call out the bride for her part in this. To make matters worse, there's no indication anything happened beyond them sleeping in the same bed, which as it turns out is all they did. The two were victims of a False Friend's jerkass "prank".
  • Bones:
    • Averted when Brennan has been dating two men; one she has the sex with, the other intellectual conversation. At the end of the episode, both men show up at her workplace at the same time, realize what's going on, say they wanted what the other guy is getting as well as their "specialties", call her out on it, and break up with her. Funny thing is, even after getting called out on this, Bones tries to logically explain the reasons why she prefers each man for certain reasons, expecting everyone to be as calm and "logical" as her. Of course, Bones is supposed to be an anthropologist (i.e. an expert on people and their social interactions and culture). It's weird that she never saw it coming.
    • It was played straight when Pelant framed Bones for murder forcing her to abandon Booth and to go into hiding. Everyone repeatedly stressed that she had no other choice. Later when Pelant blackmailed Booth into calling off the wedding everyone called him out on betraying Bones and didn't think something might be wrong. To make matters worse the most vocal person to call out Booth was Angela, a woman who has done the same thing to literally everyone she has ever been in a relationship with including her husband.
  • There's Bridezillas, where whenever the man is involved with his groomsmen throwing a bachelor party, the bride-to-be pitches a fit, then promptly goes and dances with a male stripper sometime not long after, usually putting whip cream on him and licking it off.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Lampshaded with Anya, a vengeance demon who punished unfaithful men, when she finally muses out loud that in all her years granting wishes to scorned women they were often just as much to blame for the messes they found themselves in.
    • When Buffy sleeps with Parker and he basically forgets her existence, he's portrayed as a jerk who just uses women. All of which is true, but Buffy assumed she was in a relationship even though she only knew him a week and never talked to him about it. No one ever points out that her expectations were unreasonable.
    • Although the show canonically portrays Buffy as judgmental, self-righteous, and a poster child for "do as I say, not as I do", this article from The Mary Sue paints Riley Finn as an abuser trying to trap Buffy in an abusive relationship, while downplaying her own contributions to the destruction of their relationship.
    • Willow cheats on Oz with Xander in season 3. He ultimately forgives her and they get back together. In season 4, Oz cheats on Willow with another werewolf and it destroys their relationship. What makes it this trope is that Willow specifically references her own infidelity in the ensuing fight, trying to claim that it's "not the same". This isn't her being intentionally written as hypocritical either, the show seems to expect the viewer to agree with Willow.
  • Community
    • Often played for laughs in later seasons; Britta, as the show's resident Soapbox Sadie Straw Feminist, will often attempt to invoke this by citing some claim of female moral or gender superiority over men, only for her to almost immediately demonstrate that she herself at least doesn't come close to meeting the high standards she claims for womenkind.
    • In "Digital Exploration of Interior Design", Annie encourages Jeff to make amends to someone who's feelings he apparently hurt when under the impression that it's a lady, only to discover that they've been misled by a Gender-Blender Name. She then immediately dismisses the guy's upset and his subsequent actions, which she quite approved of when under the impression that he was a lady, as pathetic. Subverted, however, in that she later calls herself out for her own issues surrounding gender and acknowledges that she's being unfair.
  • Coronation Street thrives on this trope. Sally Webster has a nerve to be upset about her husband cheating on her when she herself cheated on him years ago. And got away with it, lying to say said man had made it all up. When he brought it up in a Continuity Nod, Sally just remarked "I never slept with him" and it was dropped. And then there's Rosie who actually knew about the affair, strangely keeping quiet about that.
    • Averted with Tracey and Steve in regards to their parenting of their daughter Amy. He refuses to see or even contribute financially to her but is depicted sympathetically because his wife insists on it (albeit due to Traceys terrible behavior announcing he is the father on their wedding day but that isn't Amys fault) but when she stops seeing her daughter because her boyfriend wants it she is depicted as the mother from hell. Although considering that Tracey is clearly a manipulative self-centred sociopath who has selfishly upset and ruined Steve's life more than once, it's not incredibly difficult to sympathise with Steve on this one, to some degree at least.
  • Played straight and subverted in Coupling. In the last episode of the second series 'The End of The Line' both Steve and Susan flirt with random strangers in a pub, however it is only Steve who gets called out on it (though only because he doesn't find out about her flirting, while his was exposed in the worst possible fashion). However, in the first episode of the third series, Susan is shown to complain that the worst thing about finding out that her boyfriend flirted with a stranger in a bar is that she did exactly the same thing and so can't complain.
  • This is averted in Deadly Women, a documentary series on Investigation Discovery. There have been several cases where the women featured got mad at their partners for seeing another person or leaving the relationship even when it is revealed that they were cheating on and/or using their partners. In the majority of the cases, the female killers aren't treated with sympathy and if a Freudian Excuse is brought up, the show will make it clear that it's not enough to excuse murder. In addition, while other shows often portray female killers who were in cahoots with male killers (such as Myra Hindley) as victims, Deadly Women asserts that these women should be held responsible for their actions. The only exceptions to this attitude are women who were being abused or were mentally ill. Even though the show treats them more sympathetically than the other killers, the murders they committed aren't ever justified or excused.
  • In Desperate Housewives Mary Alice and her husband kidnap a drug-addict's child, murder said drug addict when she comes back for her child and dismember her corpse, and though the latter does lead to Mary Alice committing suicide after someone finds out, she is still remembered fondly by the four main characters, while her husband is perceived as a very unpleasant person for doing the exact same thing.
  • Deconstructed in the second season of Dexter when LaGuerta sleeps with Lt. Pascal's boyfriend, knowing that Pascal will get suspicious and eventually freak out and lose her job, which had been snatched away from LaGuerta and handed to Pascal for obviously political reasons at the end of the previous season. After her plan succeeds said boyfriend tells LaGuerta that he wants a real relationship with her, but she angrily breaks it off and tells him that he's nothing more than an unfaithful scumbag, whereas she's an honest woman who's being forced to do unsavory things to succeed in her male-dominated field. In the following episode however, Doakes tells her that it's more than a little hypocritical to try pulling the "oppressed female" card when she wrecked the career of another woman in order to advance her own.
  • Doctor Who: Subverted in "Boom Town", when Rose meets up with her boyfriend Mickey. She wants to take up where they left off, but Mickey reveals that he's started seeing another woman. When Rose reacts poorly to this, Mickey explodes, pointing out that she unhesitatingly abandoned him for another man like he was "nothing" with nothing but a smile and a kiss, disappeared for a year (albeit inadvertently) resulting in everyone suspecting him of murder, and even now is quite happy to disappear out of his life for lengthy periods at a time to be with the Doctor while still expecting him to obediently hang around waiting for her. While Mickey hasn't exactly been the perfect boyfriend himself throughout the season, it's understandable why we're clearly supposed to side with him about Rose's behaviour being selfish and unreasonable, and Rose has no response to this.
  • On ER, after Doug and Carol reconcile, he goes from one extreme to the other. Whereas he frequently cheated on her during their first relationship, he's now 100% committed and faithful, proposing to her within months and planning a surprise wedding within weeks after that. She on the other hand, wants to take things slowly (no doubt leery because of his history). To that end, she impulsively kisses another guy. When Doug finds out, he's understandably (if hypocritically) hurt and angry and suggests that she did it to get back at him for his past behavior. Her response is to scream at him, calling him a "selfish, self-centered, bastard" and blast him for not giving her time and space. Despite having changed for the better, Doug ends up looking like the bad guy again and apologizing to her.
    • Also during the early years of the show, Mark's wife Jen constantly bitched at him about being friends with another woman (Susan). Despite the fact that she herself was friends with another man. Her hypocrisy goes Up to Eleven with the revelation that she's been having an affair with him and planning to leave Mark for him. She acts completely remorseless about this, continuing to make snide comments about Mark's friendship with Susan.
    • Mark's second wife Elizabeth wasn't too thrilled about his friendship with Susan either. This is especially bad as Mark never once gave her grief about the fact that she and her ex-lover Peter were co-workers, yet it was apparently an unfathomable sin for him to work with someone he merely had Unresolved Sexual Tension with and hadn't seen in years.
  • In one episode of Everybody Hates Chris, Julius is forced to go on strike and stay at home, forcing Rochelle to have to get a job again. Instead of just sitting around all day doing nothing, Julius cleans the whole house and makes dinner with dessert. You would think Rochelle would be appreciative and show a sign of gratitude like the kids do. Instead, she gets all bitchy at him and complains about every little thing. When he justifiably snaps and says he does a better job and doesn't find it difficult, she yells at him saying he's only been doing it one day and has no idea how difficult it is for her. However, it makes absolutely no sense for her to say something like this, as narrator Chris explains just seconds prior that Julius was the oldest of eleven children and had to do the cooking and cleaning for them, something you would think his wife would know. Adding to the stupidity, he has two jobs, a fact Rochelle has constantly bragged about in the past. Julius is later guilted into "fixing" the problem.
  • The later seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond basically run on this. Debra acts like a Smug Snake and physically-abusive bitch and rarely receives a comeuppance for it, while Ray gets browbeaten and screamed at for the most minor of offenses. Debra and Marie are nasty harpies to their husbands, and rarely get comeuppance from them. Debra only ever gets called out by Marie (a character whose opinions the show usually wants viewers to ignore), while Ray is publicly humiliated and physically beaten by Debra on a regular basis, and still gets treated like he is somehow in the wrong. Even in times when he's right, he's often treated by Debra and the show like he's wrong, while the show constantly tries to act like Debra is some sort of an innocent saint, possibly in an attempt to pander to Debra's fanbase (Marie's fanbase, if it even exists, is outside the show's target demographics and therefore not appealed to as much as Debra's).
    • A great example of Debra exploiting Double Standards is in an episode where Ray is at the airport when an attractive woman tries to flirt with him, but as soon as Ray realizes what's going on, he quickly informs her that he's married and sends her away, out of loyalty to Debra... but when Debra finds out what happened, she goes into jealous banshee mode and decides to punish him anyway, and throws Ray's clothes out the window... even though Ray did the right thing. Meanwhile in an earlier episode when the family went to Italy, a couple of men start flirting with Debra and making kissy noises and she is clearly enjoying it, as she stands there giggling, smiling back at them, and tries to strike up a conversation. When her husband Ray (quite rightly) gets upset and hurries her away from the men (as she turns back and waves goodbye to them), Debra chews him out and makes *Ray* out to be the bad guy. The moral of the story: When Debra disrespects Ray by soaking in flirts from other men, and he gets upset... *he's* somehow in the wrong; and when Ray gets hit on by another woman but rejects her out of respect for Debra... Ray is *still* somehow wrong. Debra apparently has the right to feel jealous and take any revenge she likes, but if Ray ever feels jealous then he's a horrible, horrible person who needs to sit back and let Debra have her fun. Definitely serves as an example of Debra's Mary Sue status on ELR (as well as of Ray's Informed Wrongness).
  • Averted in a season one episode of Frasier in which Frasier discovers that one of his parents had an affair. His father, whom he had a very difficult relationship with at this point, says it was his fault. Later however Frasier discovers that his late mother, whom he was very close to, had been the guilty party and Marty was trying to protect her legacy. Frasier is more surprised about his mother. While Marty does accept a degree of responsibility, both must admit that Hester was the one at fault. This trope is also averted in other respects, for at no point does anyone suggest that Lilith was justified in cheating on Frasier and Maris is portrayed as wildly unreasonable while divorcing Niles.
    • The overall attitude to gender can perhaps be best seen in the fact that when the characters do stand up to their wives and call them out on their crap (e.g. Niles standing up to Maris after years of mistreatment or Frasier's truly epic chewing out of Diane when she comes back) it is treated as a moment of awesome and is quite glorious to watch. Mistreatment is mistreatment no matter whom it comes from.
  • Averted in Friday Night Lights. Tim and Lyla have an affair while Jason, who was his best friend and her boyfriend, is in hospital and dealing with paralysis. When Jason finds out, he's understandably infuriated with both of them, and every other character is disgusted. Lyla is treated far worse for her infidelity than Tim by the school, to the point where hate sites pop up dedicated to bashing her. While Lyla is treated sympathetically, the overall view is that she's the one who screwed up and has to accept responsibility for her actions, while the majority of sympathy is definitely with Jason.
  • Friends.
    • From Ross and Rachel's breakup in season 3 to the beginning of season 5, when Ross was in a relationship, Rachel would become jealous, distressed, and often seek to make everyone around her miserable until he was inevitably single again; while this behaviour wasn't necessarily condoned, she was often given a great deal of sympathy from her other friends over it. Meanwhile, if Ross ever displayed the slightest bit of jealousy over any of Rachel's relationships, it was met with utter exasperation and being told the relationship was over and he needed to move on. However, from season 5, they became more comfortable with the others dating.
    • Though one episode finally seemed to put this in some perspective with Rachel latching on to a complete stranger on a plane and telling him her entire sob story, until the guy sitting next to her gets fed up and tell her how immature, selfish, cruel and petty she was being (especially in going to ruin Ross and Emily's wedding - calling her a horrible, horrible, person), and "By the way, it seems perfectly clear to me that you were on a break!" What made that moment even more glorious was the fact that the stranger was played by none other than House himself, Hugh Laurie. Here it is, by the way!
    • Lampshaded/Played for Laughs in an episode where Rachel borrows Monica's expensive car. We say borrow, but we really mean steal. Ross does his best to keep her from taking it, but ends up going along with it to make sure she brings the car back in one piece. Long story short, Rachel speeds, and gets pulled over by a cop. She shows him her license, which expired ten years earlier. Rachel flirts with the cop more than a little, and the cop lets her go without even a slap on the wrist, advising Ross to drive, since she doesn't have her license. Later in the same episode, Ross is pulled over—for driving too slowly—and gets a ticket. He tries the same tricks as Rachel did, which is really more pathetic than effective.
    • Also gets lampshaded and ultimately averted in season six. After he and Rachel drunkenly get married while in Vegas, Ross fails to have the marriage annulled, partially because he doesn't want the embarrassment of having a second failed marriage pop up in less than a year and partially because despite his denial he still had some feelings for Rachel. When the truth comes out and Rachel is completely pissed at him, Ross actually snaps back at her that it's utterly no different from Rachel's behavior at the aforementioned wedding incident. Rachel attempts to respond that there was still a difference since she still had feelings for Ross during that time... and then realizes the truth about how Ross was feeling, which causes her to quickly shut up.
    • Averted in "The One that Could Have Been" when Rachel is making excuses for why it would be okay for her to cheat on her husband with soap-star Joey, only for Monica to cut in, saying "Nothing you say could make me think it's okay for you to cheat on your husband!"
    • Later on, however, after just barely resists temptation, she returns home to find her husband in bed with another woman (which harkens back to the first season, when she went to apologize to her ex-fiance for being a runaway bride and ultimately discovered he had been cheating on her with one of her bridesmaids even before she left). Granted however as she attempts to play the injured party and complain about what pigs men are to Ross, he points out her plans beforehand.
      Rachel: Oh what are you, a detective?
    • Also amusingly Played for Laughs in one episode where Ross outs Chandler for casually flirting with another woman even though he and Monica were a couple by this time. Monica acts cool and reveals she does it too, leading Chandler to have a freak out and point out why it's much more serious in her case: "You see, you're much hotter than I am."
  • Glee:
    • Almost everything involving Quinn. She had sex with Puck while involved with Finn. At the time, she was president of the chastity club and never had sex with Finn. When she found out she was pregnant, she lied to Finn and told him it was his child, saying it was because he ejaculated in a hot tub that both of them were in at the time. Throughout the season, this lie was presented as entirely justified, with Mercedes even telling Puck that it was Quinn's right to choose who would act as the child's father. Furthermore, Quinn judged Puck's fitness as a potential father solely on the basis of his fitness as a romantic partner for her. Once the lie got out, she chose to put the child up for adoption, even though Puck previously expressed a strong desire to be a father. The next season, Quinn resumed her relationship with Finn, the guy she had betrayed so blatantly before.
    • Even though Brittany cheated on Artie with Santana for months, the show presents their breakup as Artie's fault for calling her stupid because Santana had persuaded her that it wasn't cheating 'if the plumbing is different'. Additionally, Santana has called Brittany stupid plenty of times, and got away with it.
    • Likewise his first relationship with Tina ended because he was a "bad boyfriend". Never mind that she cheated on him with Mike.
    • Glee also has a variation of this trope that might be called The Unfair Sexuality. Gay characters (most especially Kurt) are forgiven, even lauded, for behaviour that would be treated as villainous in others. Finn falls victim to this twice. Kurt, who has a double-standard and thinks straight guys can switch teams (but gay guys cannot) hooks his father up with Finn's mother. When they prepare to move into the Hummel household, Kurt has already arranged for Finn to have to share his bedroom, which Kurt has decorated in a disturbingly date rape-y manner. Finn's frustrated and homophobic reaction is treated as worse than Kurt's clear intent to molest him. Likewise, Santana stalks Finn through the halls of the school and loudly humiliates him as part of a plan to crush his self-esteem and eliminate him as a musical rival. When he loses his temper and blurts out that she is in love with Brittany (note that he does not call her a lesbian), it is treated as the most horrible offence imaginable because he outed her. Santana's campaign to emotionally destroy him is completely forgotten and she is regarded as the victim.
  • Occurs in Home Improvement, but perhaps most notably in an episode where Tim & Jill argue about whether or not Jill told Tim three times they were going to the opera that night, as she claims. As the episode progresses, Tim realizes that Jill did let him know, but the hints were so subtle that Tim missed them completely until that point. Jill, meanwhile, realizes that she "did everything except sit Tim down and tell him we're going to the opera-oh my God I didn't do that." At the episode's end, Tim apologizes to Jill for having missed her notes and Jill... lets him. She does nothing to apologize for what she did wrong.
    • Egregiously, Home Improvement used Recycled Scripts as well, using the same plot twice, only with Tim's and Jill's roles swapped around. Tim was always on the wrong side. For example, one episode portrayed Tim as an unfeeling jerk because he said he did not want any more children, seeing as in a marriage, he can't decide this sort of thing alone. Then, when in a later episode, Tim decided he'd like to try for a daughter, he was portrayed as foolish and insensitive because it's really his wife's decision, and she doesn't want any more children.
    • However, this trope was notably averted in one episode where Tim and Jill go to a couple's workshop. After Jill tells the group about her frustrations with Tim's inability to understand her feelings, the therapist and all the other women tell her that it's ridiculous for her to think that Tim should be able to read her mind and know how she feels all the time and she's way too demanding and critical of him.
  • House of Anubis: Until her revenge scheme went too far, Jerome was treated as a scumbag for cheating on Mara with Willow. While his cheating was by no means justifiable, especially as seasons one and two built up how his love for Mara made him a much better person, the show glosses over the fact that Mara cheated on Mick in season two, by never officially breaking up with him before agreeing to go out with Jerome. She also used Jerome in the same season to make Mick upset when she thought he had a new girlfriend in Australia, only to backtrack and throw Jerome under the bus in order to keep Mick as her boyfriend. None of her actions were played as anything more than her being torn between Mick and Jerome, while Jerome's actions were portrayed as unforgivable.
  • Usually averted in How I Met Your Mother, however, it crops up in season 6's "Hopeless": Ted and Robin run across a man at a club, which results in Ted finding out that Robin had a crush on him while she and Ted were dating and on one occasion (around three years prior to the episode), flirted with him at a store behind Ted's back and later that same night, Robin made Ted cover up his face while she had sex with him, in order to fantasize about the other man. Ted is angry over this, but then Robin reminds him that the same day at the store, the reason Ted bought his infamous red cowboy boots was because a pretty saleswoman said he'd look hot in them. Ted then "realizes" that maybe he's not in a position to criticize Robin, and anyway, all of that's in the past now. Which would be fine, except that getting convinced into making a bizarre purchase by a pretty face is simply eye-rolling and a little annoying, while fucking your (long-term, serious) boyfriend and covering up his face so that you don't have to look at him while you pretend you're fucking another guy is one of the most sexually degrading things you can do to a romantic partner, and a male character who did that to his girlfriend would be called a sleazy, disgusting chauvinist pig for it.
    • Another example of this trope happens in the season 8 episode "Bad Crazy". In that episode Robin accuses Ted of being responsible for Jeanette's psychotic behavior because he's been sending mixed signals to her. This despite everybody already knowing that Jeanette was crazy; she stalked Ted for over a year before they met and she even started a fire in a building so that she could meet him.
  • In the House:
    • Maxwell’s and Mercedes relationship is ludicrous at best. In fact, the only explanation for why Max puts up with her antics is that it was love at first sight for him. The first time they broke up was when Mercedes found out that Max was lying to her about being rich and left him for thinking she would be so shallow. Conveniently forgetting that she only agreed to go out with him after he got her ridiculously expensive and hard to get items. Later after they got married Mercedes left again after their very first argument which was entirely her fault for constantly spending money that they didn’t have. When she came and they went to counseling it was all about how Max needed to treat her better.
    • Tiffany is no better by the end of the series she strung along two guy’s one an older grad student the other a delivery man. Later when her friend Raynelle feeling insecure by the fact that Tiffany I in college and she isn’t decides to date Mark the delivery man Tiffany confronts the amorous couple about their betrayal. In the end to preserve their friendship Mark is made the bad guy for being pissed off that they both used him. What makes this worse is that Tiffany had a story arc about people looking down on her something she obviously did to Mark.
  • Jersey Shore:
    • In the first season, Ronnie and Sammi were being followed home and harassed by a man who was determined to get Ronnie to fight him. Sammi was antagonizing the man and his girlfriend and wouldn’t stop when Ronnie insisted that she stop. When Sammi wouldn’t stop, Ronnie shoved her away from him in frustration, then ended up fighting the man. Everything that happened that night is blamed on Ronnie, and the part of the situation that Sammi and the rest of the cast focused on was that Ronnie shoved her. It's particularly obnoxious when Ronnie ends up with bruises and a black eye, and Sammi, without a mark on her, is yelling "You've TRAUMATIZED me."
    • Sammi’s role in her abusive relationship with Ronnie is generally downplayed. He’s cheated, screamed at her, and smashed her things in anger. Sammi is vindictive, emotionally abusive, and a spoiled brat, but that's rarely pointed out.
    • Months after finding out that Ronnie cheated, Sammi would follow Ronnie around the house demanding to know if he was with any girls and would not get out of his face; it appeared that she wouldn’t leave Ronnie alone until he admitted that he was cheating (at the time, he wasn’t). She won’t allow him to be friends with Jenni, and when she finds out that he is, she punches him in the face. When Ronnie refuses to get out of Sammi’s face after she’s suspected of cheating (she actually did) it’s abusive.
    • To get back at Ronnie after breaking up with him, Sammi goes to the same club he is at and makes a scene dancing with guys to make him jealous. Ronnie goes home and smashes all of Sammi’s things. What Ronnie did was way worse, but no one calls out Sam for getting revenge.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • One episode had a case involving a murdered lesbian who was in an abusive relationship. The said abusive lover was portrayed much more sympathetically than any other on SVU. While most male abusers are treated like a villain, she was treated like a nice girl with an unfortunate bad temper. In the writers' defense, they may have been trying to avoid Unfortunate Implications of the Psycho Lesbian variety.
    • Whenever there is a female suspect or perpetrator, there will usually be something to throw the blame on a man, or a man actually did it, or something will happen to rob the man of his sympathy.
    • One particular episode begins with a woman claiming to have been raped by a rich (married) man and had his baby, and he denied ever sleeping with her, typical set-up... until it turns out she's a con artist who drugged men and uses an anal probe to force them to ejaculate while unconscious so she could impregnate herself. The poor sap she accused is one of many rich, successful men she did this with and his swimmers just happened to be better than the competition. Oh, and that was just one part of a two-part scam she was running with her mother. Once the reversal is revealed, Benson and Stabler are much more sympathetic to the male victim and treat the woman like a villain, though she gets away with it until she and her mother were later arrested in a crossover with Law & Order, avoiding a potential Karma Houdini. However, it is still played straight by the fact that they said that the only thing they could charge her with was theft because there were no rules how to retrieve a man’s sperm when he is unconscious. They did not like her and said that There Should Be a Law but they never even considered charging her with sexual assault.
    • This is briefly discussed in "Ridicule", where a male stripper is raped by a trio of businesswomen after the party he entertained for. While most of the men in the squad say he should count himself lucky, Olivia quickly points out that they would be horrified if the genders were reversed, and Cragen immediately chastises them for not treating it like every other rape case.
  • Averted on The L Word which had an almost all female cast. Jenny cheats on Tim in Season one and spends most of the season lying to and manipulating him. Both are treated sympathetically but it is never suggested that Tim was at fault in any way. When he does act like a jerk, it is viewed as nothing more than should be expected and he is allowed to leave the series as a good guy who simply got caught in a messy relationship.
    • Strangely played straight, with the other woman involved. Marina did much of the pursuing in that affair and turns out to have been simply stringing Jenny along, already being in a relationship with someone else. Other characters (and fans) recall it as Jenny being a Jerkass to Marina.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: This is subverted when Lois says she has no problem with Hal looking at other women. Hal insists he never does. When Lois mentions that she looks at other men, Hal is crushed. It's very much played for laughs and eventually it's revealed that Lois is more devastated than Hal. This is because it means that he is even more in love with her than she is with him. Considering Lois' obsession with always being the better partner, its a hard hit to take.
  • In Married... with Children, Al and Jefferson (Marcy's second husband) get this constantly from their wives: nearly anything they do is blatantly and stupidly wrong - and it usually is - but the girls tend to do the exact same thing and it's completely justified. Played with in that only they think it's justified, and they get called out on it as often as not. It finally got turned around one Christmas episode, where Al finally has all his debts paid off and actually has some extra money for presents, spends some time picking out a series of thoughtful gifts for everyone in the family, only to have his credit card inexplicably denied. Come Christmas morning, everyone has bought each other amazing gifts, except Al, who they then berate for being so thoughtless. He then finds out that everyone, especially Peg, used his credit card to buy each other and themselves gifts. He proceeds to pick up all the gifts that "he bought for himself" and go into the basement to enjoy his Christmas while everyone else is left to stew in the guilt of what they did. And then in later episodes, it all goes back to normal.
    • They re-hash the same plot for Al and Peggy's anniversary. He goes to buy her an beautiful watch, his credit is declined. His family and friends belittle him until it's revealed they used his credit to buy all the gifts and food, with Kelly even finding it funny he thought she would use her money to buy something for someone other than herself. Even Marcie, who normally hates Al with a passion, says they should apologize to him.
  • Averted on a M*A*S*H episode in which Margaret thinks she might be pregnant. In one scene, Margaret says that it's all her husband's fault. Hawkeye replies that he wouldn't blame it all on her husband, since Margaret was "probably there when it happened."
  • On Maury, women bring on multiple different men, often over more than one episode, to find out if a man is the father of the woman's baby through a DNA test. The audience is always, always against the man in this conflict (though the men often don't help matters by making a scene). Even if the amount of men this woman has slept with is in the double digits, which is not uncommon, and even if the woman is the one who cheated on the man, the audience universally chides the man and praises the woman, even though logic would point to the woman being at the greatest fault here. There have been notable aversions, though, in the infamous "I'm 1000% sure" episode, where the audience cheered while the accused man danced after being told he wasn't the father.
    • For the most part, the audience immediately switches to being on the man's side if, and only if, he is shown to not be the father/not cheating. Even if they were booing and heckling him literally seconds earlier. If the man is the party in the wrong, however, this trope is played completely straight. Another tragic aversion to this trope had a recently separated married couple arguing over the wife's latest child, whom the father of her other two children claimed could not be his. Despite an inital frosty reception the man was proven right and the crowd cheered. However it was soon revealed that both the children he had no reason to doubt were his proved not to be his children either. The disgust and shock from the crowd due to her betrayal was palpable and she received no sympathy whilst her husband called her out on it.
    • In a rather disturbingly straight case of this trope, a 14 year old is on the show with his mother to determine if he fathered a child with a 21 year old woman. He was only thirteen at the time and the woman was well aware of his age. Incredibly Maury begins to lecture a young boy on not thinking with his penis and being more careful. The fact this is clearly statutory rape and that a 13 year old was seduced by a 20 year old isn't actually brought up at all. Several detractors pointed out the absurdity of this double standard as no-one would ever entertain the notion of lecturing a 13 year old girl who had a child to 20 year old man about her self-control. Nevermind that a male in her place would most certainly be serving time as a child rapist.
  • My Wife and Kids:
    • The infamous Sweethearts Day episode. To summarize, the women (egged on by wife Jay) invent a holiday for the express purpose of forcing their men to buy them diamond jewelry. Michael buys Jay pearls instead when she displays a bad attitude, and she reacts like he did something terrible and responds by doing such things as refusing to make him breakfast (and putting raw bacon on his head). Jay is presented unflinchingly as the right one in the conflict, and at the end of the episode, Michael is the one apologizing.
    • In yet another episode, the girls decide to play a Newlywed Game-style parlor game where the men have to guess their responses to questions like "When was our first kiss?" The men miss all the questions and end up in the doghouse, but turn it back around on the women and prove that they don't know anything either. All of the women admit their mistake, apologize and make up except for Jay, meaning Michael has to go the extra mile to get back in her good graces.
  • Averted with Ziva on NCIS, who is treated like any other member of Team Gibbs, including receiving the trademark Gibbs slap when she messes up. And while she has occasionally hit Tony without retaliation, that's less sexism than the fact she's a genuinely scary Mossad Action Girl who’s been proven capable of killing someone completely by accident in hand-to-hand combat, and Tony's more than happy to annoy her into submission (conveniently avoiding grievous bodily harm in the process) instead.
  • Inverted in Once Upon a Time when David Nolan and Mary Margaret's affair was discovered, Mary was the one given the cold shoulder by the entire town while David was mostly ignored. Justified since David was amnesiac and the townsfolk thought she took advantage of him.
  • In an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, she brought on a psychologist to discus infidelity. The doctor received disbelieving jeers from the mostly-female (but usually well-behaved) audience when she stated that women cheat in relationships just as often as men. She simply asked them who they think all the cheating men are sleeping with; most affairs involve infidelity on both sides unless there's one extremely-busy woman that all the men share.
  • Subverted in Oz. Tim McManus sleeps with multiple women throughout the show and is still portrayed sympathetically. Claire Howell is sexually aggressive, assaults Tim and nearly ruins his reputation when he rejects her advances and sexually abuses many prisoners and is treated by the show as a monster.
  • Subverted in Peep Show. While Mark and Jeremy often commit heinous acts, the women are just as complicit and likely to be viewed as bad, such as Elena cheating on her girlfriend with Jeremy. In a season two episode, the show even portrays Jeremy sympathetically when he cheats on his girlfriend while showing Toni as the bad one for exploiting his unhappiness in his relationship because of her jealousy of his wife Nancy.
  • In Saved by the Bell, two occasionally-reused plots throughout the high school and college years were (a) "Zack pays a little too much attention to another girl and Kelly gets mad," and (b) "Kelly sees another guy and drops Zack like a hot potato." In cases of A, Zack having to figure out how to make it up to Kelly (or realizing he needed to) would be the focus of the plot. However, in cases of B, Zack would still be made the villain, for standing in the way of Kelly's happiness for his own selfish needs. Apparently, Negative Continuity is in play and you're not supposed to notice this pattern, but it's hard not to. The Grand Finale of the original students' saga is Zack and Kelly's wedding. What led Zack to pop the question? He was afraid that Kelly would meet another guy on an upcoming trip that Zack wasn't going on. Aw, how romantic.
  • Scrubs:
    • Best exemplified in JD's Anvilicious closing narration in My Tormented Mentor: "There will always be a battle for power between the sexes, sometimes a man just has to give in, other times he just has to take a positive step, and once in a while a man just has to be there for her." The subtext being that women can't be wrong because they have it hard on account of being women(!?), while in the same episode the chief complaint a female surgeon has against Turk is that he assumes women in their profession have it hard (which is true, at least in universe) and then punishes him for being perfectly nice to her. The female surgeon who is in charge of Turk constantly insults everyone around her and then prevents him from operating indefinitely because she overheard him defending her in front of the resident Memetic Molester and he told her he doesn't share the prejudices of the other male surgeons. Hint: You're not supposed to be supportive of women, it's demeaning. All instances of female surgeons in the show basically illustrate one point: cocky men are assholes, cocky women are professionals who fight the good fight for women all over the world and it's completely justified if they lash out and misuse their authority from time to time (or all the time). Note that this head surgeon abuses her power over Turk when Carla uninvited her to their wedding due to lack of space.
    • That episode has another example with Dr. Cox and Jordan. After Jordan's brother dies (who was also best friends with Perry), Dr. Cox is extremely upset but finds it difficult to move on with Jordan's friends staying with them. Said friends openly insult and demean Perry at every opportunity and even lash out at him when he tries to get close to Jordan for emotional support. In the end, rather than getting an aesop that the two of them need to work together to overcome the loss, Perry learns he's meant to comfort and support Jordan at all times, even letting her cheerily keep her friends at the apartment knowing how much they upset him. His emotional needs are all but ignored.
    • Elliot sleeps with JD then immediately dumps him the day after because her old boyfriend came back; JD's jealousy is depicted as petty and he's advised to "be a good friend". Later, JD convinces Elliot to leave her boyfriend but realizes that he doesn't love her. After struggling over his dilemma, he admits this to her; she physically assaults him and carries a grudge for the entire next season.
    • Elliot is engaged to marry Keith. The day before the wedding, she realizes that she doesn't love him (wow, small world) and dumps him. The day afterwards, she changes her mind and gets back together with him, sleeping with him twice. Then she decides that she's repeating a bad pattern and dumps him again. Keith is understandably furious and carries a grudge for the next season; meanwhile, Elliot can't understand what the big deal is and bemoans Keith's "lack of professionalism". (Speaking of professionalism, the reason they got together in the first place was because Elliot wanted a sex buddy and chose Keith, her subordinate.) Carla does manage to force Elliot to face up to the psychological devastation inflicted on Keith and apologize, but this is undercut substantially by being basically a way to write Keith off the show. He wasn't seen until the penultimate scene of season eight's last show (which was intended to be the series finale) and never again.
    • JD accidentally gets Kim pregnant on their fourth date, but they decide to raise the baby and work together to make their relationship work. Kim suddenly takes a lucrative job offer a few states over (naturally, JD doesn't want her to go but "learns" that the correct reaction is to support her decision unconditionally) and a few months later, informs JD that she has miscarried. Turns out, that was a lie to get out of their relationship. JD is furious but decides that he will get back together with Kim for the sake of his child, even if it means trapping himself in a loveless relationship for the rest of his life. When Kim is in labor she demands to know what he thinks of her; he admits that he doesn't love her and she is furious, dumping him immediately afterwards.
    • Inverted in one episode where Elliot sleeps with a male patient only to discover that he's married. When he tells his wife, the wife goes into a frenzy directed only at Elliot, and hunts her for the rest of the episode.
  • Played with in The Shannara Chronicles: At one point, Eretria accuses Wil of being a typical man by supposedly seducing her and then throwing her aside after he got what he wanted. What actually happened was that she seduced him by claiming to wanted to change her ways (and implying strongly that having a good guy like him in her life would make that possible for her), then stole the Elf Stones and sneaked out while he's still sleeping. When she got caught, she rubbed their night together in Amberle's face in front of Wil, ensuring that Wil's and Amberle's already rocky relationship got even rockier. She's probably just doing it to mess with his head, though. note 
  • In Smallville Lana’s great aunt Louise is portrayed very sympathetically even though she cheated on her husband with a man she just met and admitted she never loved him, and it's implied that she was also carrying on an affair with a local sheriff, given that Clark and Lana found old love letters from the sheriff hidden among her things. To make matters worse, her husband Dexter blamed himself for not letting her go and him spending the rest of his life in jail after being framed for her murder was just punishment. Oh, and even worse: the reason why Dexter was put in jail in the first place was because he was framed by the very same sheriff who was implied to be carrying on an affair with Louise.
    • This trope is even more prominent in the episode "Bound" where Lex having a series of one night stands is considered Moral Event Horizon both in an out of universe. The episode tries to paint him as The Casanova despite the fact the only two women shown to have a problem with the arrangement is Stalker with a Crush and the woman who killed her and tried to frame Lex for it. Keep in mind that by this point in the series every woman who Lex has gotten close to has betrayed him (Helen Bryce, Claire Foster, even his own mother) so its perfectly understandable why he would opt for meaningless flings yet the charecters are still more willing to trust Lionel over him because of this (a man who tried to kill Clark's family not two weeks before). Finally murderer Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who wanted revenge on Lex for ruining her engagement, even though her fiancée left her because she slept with some random guy she met in a bar.
  • In The Steve Harvey Show, this is practically Lovita Alizé Jenkins-Robinson’s defining trait. Anytime Cedric wants to do something that she doesn’t want him to do, or wants him to do something that he doesn’t want to do, she always says that they are married and partners. But when it is the other way around, she always says that she is a proud black woman and he has no say in her decisions. A great example of this is when Cedric and Steve went to a bachelor party. Lovita literally broke down the door and the show went out of its way to show Cedric was wrong. But in an earlier episode when Lovita and Regina went to a bridal shower, they pretty much laughed in Ced’s face that there was going to be strippers and that was the last you heard of it.
    • Don’t forget she gets mad at Cedric for constantly doing things for her that he didn’t want to do. Or when told that her friend was hitting on him, she disregarded and out right ignored it to make the situation Cedric’s fault even to the point of forgiving him for being a man.
    • Then there is her treatment of Steve. While Steve is generally rude to her she repeatedly mooches off of him breaks into his house, goes through his things, tell other people his secretes and when he got into a position of authority disregarded it and even undermined him making thing worse then it had to be but letting him take all of the blame. While the show plays both for laughs imagine how the characters would react if Steve started treating her like she treats him.
    • Regina Grier isn’t immune to this either while a lot of it is due to her narcissism she has exploited double standards quite abit. Anytime Steve gets into a committed relationship and not just a fling she goes out of her way to find something wrong with the woman. But if Steve says anything about the men she dates he’s just jealous and hasn’t gotten over her. One time when Steve was offered a prestigious position she spent the entire day telling that he betrayed her but then willfully let him starve to death.
    • Connected to the above example she intentionally gave Cedric bad advice just so she could look superior. Or the time she got mad at Steve for being worried that a man was taking advantage but later being ashamed of him for letting a girl take advantage of him.
    • Even as early the Pool Sharks Bet bit we see her double standard view of the world when she accused Steve of seducing a crazy temp and even getting angry when told it was the other way around. When told that the temp was stalking him by both Steve and Cedric she didn’t agree to fire the temp until after she went after her.
    • Let’s not even get into the Driving Me Crazy episode “well you boys all do stick together don’t you”.
  • The Steve Wilkos Show:
    • At one point, a woman tackles her husband on stage while he, in turn, grabs at her ankles to pull her down with him. Steve threatens to arrest the man, treating him as the aggressor, while giving the woman a slap on the wrist.
    • In another instance, a woman hits a man after finding out he cheated on her. Steve tells the man that he shouldn't be surprised by her reaction, even though Steve would have had escorted the man out in handcuffs if the genders were reversed.
    • In the first segment of the episode "Did You Lie About Being Raped?", a woman admits that she lied to her boyfriend about getting assaulted. She also admits that she filed a false police report. She claims she did this because he kept accusing her of being a cheater and was calling her a whore. Both took a lie detector test to determine if they had cheated. Both passed, which caused the studio audience to cheer for them. Afterwards, Steve calls the girlfriend out for needlessly wasting her local law enforcement's time. He then calls out the boyfriend, saying that that he is just as responsible as she is because of his verbal abuse, even though filing a false report is a crime and being a distrustful boyfriend is not.
  • Donna Pinciotti from That '70s Show could get really bad about this towards Eric Foreman when they became a couple, and especially after they broke up, since Eric Took a Level in Dumbass and Donna Took a Level in Jerkass and the writers would forget aesops learned between seasons, or even between episodes. Some examples include:
    • Blasting Eric for daring to make plans with his friends without asking her permission first. At the end of the episode, Eric has to promise to always check with her first before seeing his friends. He then asks her if she needs to ask his permission to see her friends, to which she replies "no" and skips off to meet up with a friend.
    • Yelling at Eric for having two dates with another girl when Donna and Eric were broken up, conveniently forgetting the fact that she herself dated and slept with Casey Kelso in that same timeframe.
    • After they broke up Donna wrote an Elizabethan Revenge Fic with incredibly obvious stand-ins for Donna and Eric that exaggerated all the times Eric screwed up and didn't mention all the times Donna screwed up. Their friends point out how obvious the stand-ins are and make fun of Eric, so Eric does the same thing and passes his story around the school. Donna yells at him, and their friends say what Donna did was okay, because throwing a temper tantrum in the school newspaper counted as artistic expression, while Eric getting revenge for being humiliated counted as petty. At the end Donna writes a second story that portrays their relationship more neutrally and they both apologize, but since Eric didn't have time to reflect on his actions he ends up as the one in the wrong.
    • There were times when this would be set up and averted, making Donna realize how irrational she was being. A good example is when Eric accidentally runs over Donna's cat (it had crawled under his car) and hid it from her for two days because he didn't know how to tell her. Donna's furious, though when she complains to Jackie it's pointed out that Eric had just made a simple mistake and didn't know how to break it to her without upsetting her. By contrast, Jackie is going through a messy break-up with Michael, who unapologetically cheated on her for months, while Eric was just trying to spare her feelings. Donna realizes how irrational she was and apologizes.
  • Stranger Things: Played for Laughs when Lucas asks his father for advice on girls.
    Lucas: Dad, what do you do when you and mom get into a fight?
    Mrs. Sinclair: Yes dear, what do you do?
    Mr. Sinclair: [not looking up from the paper] I apologize, and then get her whatever she wants.
    Lucas: Even when she's wrong?
    Mr. Sinclair: [finally looks up from his paper, and gives his son a Look] She's never wrong, son. [goes back to reading his paper]
  • Played for Laughs in Titus, and as a way to illustrate a particularly bad example of this trope. Titus' father (Ken) and mother (Juanita) are talking to a social worker at Ken's house, with Ken mentioning that he has a house, a stable job, and a new wife... but Juanita is "his mother", despite being pantsless.
    Social Worker: A boy should be with his mother.
    Juanita: Come along, Christopher. Mommy lives in a box under the thruway!
  • In Too Close for Comfort, Muriel and Henry are having an argument. She keeps telling him to lower his voice, even though she in turn is speaking sharply to him. This ends up justified when he demands to know why he has to lower his voice but she doesn't have to lower hers. His voice is louder and stronger than hers. His angry tone gets the baby crying, whereupon she glares at him and answers, "That's why."
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