Italian Stereotypes on TV from the 1970s to present  

The name of this article is “The Joey” because it represents what many feel is the media's “loveable idiot” representation of Italians on TV and movies. The name Joey derives from 2 popular Joeys of the 90s- Joey Tribbiani of Friends and Joey Russo of Blossom. It is just a generic term for we're using for a sweet but dumb Italian character. It is important to note- we will not mention a single Mafia related character or stereotype here.

Somewhere, somehow Italians became stereotyped as just plain dumb. One can make the argument that it started and became popular in the 70s with Vinny Barberino of Welcome Back Kotter, The Fonz in Happy Days, Tony Banta of Taxi, and of course, Rocky Balboa.

We then have Coach Pantusso of Cheers and Tony Miceli of Who's the Boss in the 80s, followed by the aforementioned Joey Tribbiani of Friends and Joey Russo of Blossom in the 90s. All of these characters share a common theme: they are sweet but dumb Italian Americans.

People generally saythat the characters were more developed than we're making it out to be. This is very true. However, we have yet to find another modern example of an ethnic group sharing a poor quality like these Italians on screen do across so many decades.

For as nice and loveable as the characters may have been, they were never as smart as their non-Italian counterparts. That says something about how the media represented us and how America believed we actually behaved.

Some character quotes:

Joey (Friends)- “ Its a moo point. Its like a cow's opinion- it doesn't matter”

Joey (Blossom)- “Whoa!”

Vinny Barbarino (Welcome Back Kotter)- “What? Where?”

The Fonz (Happy Days)- “eyy”

Rocky Balboa (Rocky)- “I think we make a real sharp couple of coconuts - I'm dumb, you're shy, whaddaya think, huh?

Coach Pantuso (Cheers)-”You skipped a grade, Coach?” “Yeah. I skipped four. High school I think they called it.”


Tony Miceli- (Who's the Boss)- “Ay, oh, oh ay”