Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Elana Levine

Committee Members

Gilberto Blasini, Lane Hall, Lia Wolock


masculinity, television


The 2010s featured a significant increase in the representation of rural masculinity on television. Much of the increase can be attributed to unscripted programming. Reality series have received considerable attention from scholars, particularly in regard to their representation of stereotypes. This dissertation examines the representation of masculinities in three scripted television series that aired during the 2010s and are set in rural America. The series provide perspectives on rural masculinities that can be placed in conversation with discourses on reality series set in rural environments. Justified, Rectify, and Outsiders depict male characters that veer away from stereotypes and are difficult to pigeonhole. The male characters embody masculinities that both adhere to and reject traditional masculine identity. These include representations of men not frequently portrayed on twenty-first century television: a conservative lawman not afraid to embrace an increasingly diverse world; another lawman, terrified of violence and conflict; a reserved, meditative man trying to figure out who he is; and a man who initially embraces traditional masculinity and demonstrates an ability to change. These series also serve to condemn traditional masculinity and argue that male characters who adopt a more progressive viewpoint are better positioned to find stronger physical and mental health. The three texts aired during a time of consequential social and cultural shifts, allowing this dissertation to enhance existing scholarship of and the discourse surrounding masculinities and twenty-first century television.