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3.4 | Understand the relationship between a genre and society. Ian Thomas | Saint Kentigern College Sitcoms and US Society 1960-now. Politics – Republican vs. Democrat Family Unit – Nuclear / Dysfunction / Divorce / Pseudo Civil Rights – Feminism / Racism
Family Unit – Nuclear / Dysfunction / Divorce / Pseudo
Civil Rights – Feminism / Racism
Generations – generation gap / Baby Boomers / Gen X / Gen Y
Television – broadcasting / fragmented and niche markets / narrowcasting / internet
Sex and Sexuality – social discourse / female empowerment / homosexuality
The Future – changing technology / internet-based sitcoms / Obama / societal change
Post-Modernism– re-writing the rules / rejection of tradition / open acceptance
US society sees change through non-confrontational nature of humour – catching more flies with honey than vinegar.
Removed expectation of fulfilment of American Dream – through the latter decades, the sitcom assures US society that it’s okay to NOT fit the American Dream.
Society influenced political/social content – Relevant and reflective of era.
Roles – Catharsis \ Counselling \ Couching \ Comfort Food
The fish out of water – most often women though later men. Each struggling to find their place in society amidst social change and upheaval.
The naive fool – typically men who assume traditional patriarchal structures of social rule and family dynamics.
The acerbic servant – the ‘other’ voice who offers ‘outside’ context.
The Running Joke – recurring humorous ideas often satirising outmoded views and ideas of social behaviour, very audience inclusive.
Humour – slapstick, one-liners, satire, punch-line, conflict, juxtaposition
The move to suburbia
Introduce the housewife as the post Rosie the Riveter ideal for women – can link to post-Noir study well.
1950’s Father Knows Best – taste of early sitcoms.
Metaphor of witch as modern woman (Fish out of Water)
Traditional patriarchal man/husband (Naive Fool)
Class differences evident between the Tates (upper-class) and the Campbells (middle-class) for the first time in a sitcom (Comic Trap)
Dysfunction and conflict prime source of humour
Race and sex openly discussed – development of innuendo as a sitcom staple.
Traditional family sitcoms harked back to a “Father Knows Best” era with little regard to class or gender conflict.
Though many Americans struggled with the impact divorce had on their lives (comic trap)
Women especially as the American Dream had not equipped them well for single life after divorce.
Rachel is the original fish out of water – appearing in the first episode as a dripping wet bride.
The pseudo family becomes the comic trap.
Male and female relationships are more equal in sitcoms and society
Sex and sexuality is open for discussion
The family is now fragmented to the viewer’s own choice and experience of family and TV access.
All forms of family exist and are treated with the same sense of humour, respect and accessibility.
There is potential backlash with the advent of the male-com.