Five Examples of Postmodernism in Television

Five Examples of Postmodernism in Television

Postmodernism is a complicated philosophical movement and it's influences can be found everywhere.
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What is Postmodernism?

Postmodernism is probably a word you’ve heard tossed around in conversation about paintings that look like plain blocks or movies you thought didn’t make any sens. However, you may not know the definition of postmodernism or where it comes from. Postmodernism is the ideological response to modernism, which can be defined as the rejection of traditional ideas about how the world works and how we can make sense of it. Before modernism, it was generally thought that everything could be explained through religion or science. Modernism was a rejection of this concept in the sense that many people became disillusioned with the idea that religion or science could be used to explain everything, believing instead that religion and faith were “holding back” progress for humanity. Modernism was the beginning of creating things for the sake of creating them and using them to explore oneself and humanity more thoroughly. Modernists generally believed that this was the best way to understand how the world works; you must truly understand yourself before you can understand humanity and the world around.

Postmodernism rejects this, and basically everything, in an extreme and sometimes nihilistic manner. Postmodernism says that everything is relative and constructed by political, social and historical perceptions, therefore nothing can be adequately explained by any sort of grand theory, idea, or meta-narratives. Postmodernism is often very self-referential and ironic. Often times, postmodernism can be used to critique the way certain things work or they way certain things are. Often times, however, postmodern works of literature or art may just be absurd for the sake of being absurd. Many, many television shows of the last 20 years or so adopt at least some form of postmodernism. Here are some fantastic examples of postmodernism in current television shows.

1. Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is one of my personal favorites, and it constantly utilizes pop culture references to make the viewer feel like they are “smart” or “smarter” than those who don’t get the references. There are examples of this all throughout the series. In Season 3, Episode 2, it’s Halloween and Tina, Gene, and Louise are all dressed up and ready to go Trick-or-Treating. While the kids are getting ready to leave, Linda asks about everyone’s costumes. She sees Louise and says “Ooh, Wolverine! Scary!” and Louise says “I’m Edward Scissorhands.” Unless you’ve seen Edward Scissorhands and at least one X-Men movie or comic book, this joke won’t make any sense to you. On the opposite side, if you have seen or know of both of these references, you immediately feel rewarded for being “smart enough” to understand the joke. Also, if you’ve ever seen Bob’s Burgers, Bob always has a burger of the day. The burgers all have corny, dad-joke type of names. However, a lot of them also contain pop culture references. In Season 1, Episode 10, the burger of the day is the “Hit Me With Your Best Shallot Burger” which is obviously a reference to Pat Benatar's “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” In Season 1, Episode 12, the burger of the day is the “One Fish Two Fish Burger” which is a reference to the classic Dr. Seuss book.

2. Community

Community is another fantastic example of postmodernism within television shows. As the Idea Channel on YouTube has suggested, Community may even be a “Postmodern Masterpiece.” This show is littered with self-referential jokes, pastiches of countless film genres, and discussion of postmodern ideas within the episodes. There is a western episode, an apocalyptic episode, a love story episode, an action episode, etc. In the pilot for Community, Jeff Winger says “I discovered at a very early age that if I talk long enough, I could make anything right or wrong. So, either I’m God, or truth is relative.” A quote couldn’t be more postmodern than that.

3. Family Guy

Family Guy might be the King of pop culture references, and I think everyone knows that at this point. Every single episode contains some sort of flash reference where they make fun of a celebrity, an event, or something similar. In Season 3, Episode 3, a tobacco company buys the toy company that Peter works for. The tobacco company begins placing advertising into the children’s toys, and in one instance, they flash to an advertisement that uses the 1954 television show “Lassie” to jokingly show how companies place advertising in their products. In Season 5, Episode 14, Brian and his black roommate are watching television when the results of the OJ Simpson trial are released. Brian’s roommate is happy about the not guilty decision, while Brian is angry about the decision. Family Guy even occasionally references postmodern ideas outright, such is the case with Season 10, Episode 21, where Peter paints a picture of a family on a couch. However, instead of painting them as they are, he paints them with the two males as they are and the two females making out in their underwear. When the family gets angry about the painting, Peter says “I painted the truth. My truth.”

4. Ed, Edd, and Eddy

While Ed, Edd, and Eddy may not be current, it's still a phenomenal show with loads of postmodern tendencies. Characters on this show frequently break the Fourth Wall. For those who don't know, the “Fourth Wall” is an imaginary wall between the characters of a show or performance and the audience. One very recent example of this is Deadpool, which is a fantastic movie as well. The whole character of Deadpool is based on the idea that Deadpool knows he's a character in a fictional universe, and he loves pop culture references and talking to his audience. In Season 2, Episode 4, Eddy decides to create a show where the kids in the cul-de-sac can showcase their talents. He has them audition, and when Rolf comes to audition he says his piece is called “the dance of the hairless otter” to which Eddy responds “Next! There’s no budget for subtitles.” In Season 2, Episode 13, Edd says “I think I’ve lost ten pounds this season!”



5. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a very different example of postmodernism. In this series, as many of you probably already know, Walter White is a chemistry teacher at a high school, and he also works at a car wash. As a result of working at the car wash without proper safety precautions being taken, Walter ends up getting lung cancer. Also, his wife Skyler is pregnant with their second child. Walter doesn't make very much money and quickly realizes that the cancer is terminal and he isn't going to be able to leave enough money for his family to survive without him. His brother-in-law, Hank, is a DEA agent, and after seeing a meth bust on television, Walter asks to accompany Hank on one of their meth busts. Long story short, Walter ends up finding one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman, who also cooks meth, and they team up together to make the purest meth on the streets. Initially, Walter does this so he can make enough money to support his family after his death. However, as the show goes on, Walter slowly descends into wickedness. Without spoiling too much for anyone who might not have seen the show yet, Walter does some very, very awful things. He becomes coldhearted and cruel. Breaking Bad is truly one of the most fantastic television shows ever made, and I strongly recommend watching it if you haven't already. You'll love Walter in the beginning, and throughout, you'll slowly go from admiration for his strength and toughness, to disdain for the awful lengths he'll go to reach his goal, despite who it affects in the process.



These five television shows are just a handful of television shows that showcase the existence of postmodernism in television. The examples given are also only a handful compared to the amount of examples you'll find in each of these shows.

Cover Image Credit: Reddit

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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