Honors College Theses

Adolescent Male Behaviors as Portrayed in the Disney Sitcom Hannah Montana

Publication Date



Sociology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Nancy Malcom


This research project uses content analysis to examine themes related to toxic masculinity and misogyny in the sitcom Hannah Montana. In particular, the sitcom’s child character Rico Suave is shown to be misogynistic when interacting with women. There is little literature on the topic of representation of toxic masculinity as shown in child characters, but there are many examples in modern media, such as the trope of the child being attracted to the babysitter, the lifeguard, and the friend of an older sibling. Using similarly-formatted transcripts from seasons two, three, and four, I pulled all lines of dialogue and stage notes pertaining to Rico Suave. I used five categories to identify and code Rico’s toxic masculinity: coercion, aggression, sexualizaton, manipulation and objectification. Findings revealed that Rico often coerced women into interacting with him. He displayed aggressive hypermasculinity, and would inappropriately flirt with and sexualize women. Rico also manipulated women by using them to hurt others, and he objectified women by using them as props. In this sitcom, the fact that the aggressor (Rico) is younger than the girls he is attracted to allows his actions to be played off as jokes. However, analysis reveals that the portrayal of Rico’s toxic masculinity intersects with his Latino identity, reinforcing and even exacerbating stereotypes of both masculinity and ethnicity.

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