All our research is curated and peer-reviewed giving you access to an unmatched library of information all in one place.

Tough Girls in a Rough Game: Televising the Unruly Female Athletes of Contemporary Roller Derby

This article examines the production and promotion of A&E’s Rollergirls (2006), a US docu-soap featuring the Texas Roller Derby Lonestar Rollergirls (TXRD), the league that revived roller derby as a sport for female amateurs. Focusing on the representation of TXRD skaters in Rollergirls, as well as A&E’s promotional campaign for the series, this analysis is contextualized in relation to the role of female athleticism in contemporary US commercial culture. Relying on practices long used to trivialize women sports figures, Rollergirls’ portrayals of TXRD skaters suggest ambivalence towards female athleticism as well as a desire to contain the gender-bent and sexually agential performances at the heart of women’s roller derby. In addition to revealing the challenges television producers face in the representation of female athletes and other nonconformist women, the research offered here hopes to expand feminist television criticism beyond its conventional focus on fictional texts while also broadening feminist studies of sports media, which have centered primarily on news coverage.