Why Primetime TV Is Failing The American Public

Why Primetime TV Is Failing The American Public

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From its inception to the mid-50s, TV, like many of us, went through its painfully awkward stage. During its formative years, however, comedies such as “The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy” gained an unprecedented prominence in American culture. In fact, these shows had such a massive impact that their influence is still widely prevalent in today’s media (the whole Fat Husband/Understanding Wife archetype that you see on every channel? The Honeymooners started that). Then, in the late 1960s, TV shed its dowdy black-and-white feathers and started making use of its wild colors, giving Americans an escape from the harsh realities of life with fantasy-based sitcoms (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Lost In Space). Then after America got its fill of witches, genies, and robots, 1970 hit, and TV made an overnight transformation. The medium finally began to embrace its power, giving the public programs like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (a single, career-oriented woman who isn’t looking for a husband?! OH MY GOD COVER THE KIDS’ EYES), “All In the Family”, “Maude”, “The Jeffersons”, “Good Times”, shows that offered a shocking glimpse at a grittier side of American life: racism, suicide, rape, classism, women's liberation, hell, even the sound of a toilet flushing, all were presented for the first time in living color on national television.

Mary Richards: Unmarried, employed, scandalous.

More shocking than the subject matter, however, were the protagonists of these sitcoms. Archie Bunker, arguably one of the most iconic TV characters of all time, was a bigot, a misogynist, a staunch conservative, and a generally unlikable figure. But this was the beauty of it, as the comedy within “All In the Family” was driven solely by Archie’s crude, unapologetic behavior. When contrasted with his shrill-voiced, scatterbrained wife Edith, and his New Age daughter and son-in-law, Archie was always made the fool. The audience laughed at the expense of this racist figure, and by laughing at his outdated way of thinking, America began to steer towards a new social conscience.


"SAVE US, NIXON!" - every American after watching an interracial kiss between two men in 1972 on national TV.

“Maude” (a spin-off of “All In the Family”) starred Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, a progressive, assertive, “uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizin’” feminist who was constantly fighting with either her cousin-in-law Archie or her Republican husband Walter. Once again, the comedy came from a protagonist with a warped sense of thinking. This time, the American public could laugh at the diehard liberal, a woman who deliberately sought to hire a black housekeeper so that she could “liberate her”, even going so far as to encourage the maid to use the front door as opposed to the back door, even though the latter was more convenient. The idea of simultaneously taking jabs at the far right and the far left created compelling, hilarious, timeless television, an art form that has been lost in the following decades.


Today, television, and I say this as a lifelong worshiper of this mercurial idol, is a barren wasteland. The American public is pandered to with artificial sitcoms, bombarded with canned laughter, and the use of one’s brain while watching is a thoroughly discouraged and unnecessary activity. Our perceptions are not discussed, our beliefs not challenged. In one of my all-time favorite episodes of “The Jeffersons” (another spin-off of “All In the Family” - they never stop), the protagonist, George Jefferson (think a black, rich Archie Bunker - piggish, intolerant, the butt of every joke) after much hesitation, performs CPR on a dying member of the Ku Klux Klan, who, upon discovering that his life was saved by an African-American, remarks “You should have let me die.” Instead of compelling TV that attempts to present and then rectify the more abhorrent sides of humanity, we have SEVEN different “Real Housewives” series. Seven of them. And unless all of these shows culminate in a Hunger Games-style fight between the 40 drunken socialites, I will be extremely disappointed.

IT HAS BEGUN.

Worse than these reality shows that present women (especially women of color - I’m looking at you “Basketball Wives”) in a wholly negative light, however, are the shows that present themselves as groundbreaking and yet fall far short of their predecessors. “Modern Family”, an Emmy powerhouse, is one of the most vivid examples of these. The most radical concept to the show’s credit is the presence of an interracial couple (done first by “The Jeffersons” in 1975) and a homosexual couple (done first by “Hotel Baltimore” in 1975). Shows like this have made a profit off of America’s notoriously short attention span, marketing themselves as groundbreaking, original, inventive. And while they may be funny, they waste the potential to make light of America’s plights out of fear of losing the almighty profit. However, as proven by All In the Family (1971-1979), The Jeffersons (1975-1985), and Maude (1972-1978), holding a mirror up to society can be profitable, it can be helpful, and above all else, it can be funny.

Ain't nothing like the real thing (Sorry Sofia Vergara)

I am not writing this piece to patronize or insult the public. Rather, I am writing this as a warning - a warning written out of frustration. Be aware of not only the fact that today’s leading sitcoms are designed to offer you a false sense of comfort and distract you from any pressing issues at hand, but of the possibilities that lie within the stagnant tedium of sitcoms. Police brutality against minorities will not be discussed on “The Big Bang Theory”, and “The Middle” is not going to launch a crusade against misogyny. And while it may not be "edgy" to be "edgy" anymore, television still has the responsibility of raising public awareness of ongoing issues, be they social, political, or cultural, and to foster discussions from the office water coolers to the playgrounds. American television has made a disheartening transformation from a platform with the best of intentions to a knock-down, drag-out fight at some doctor’s wife’s charity brunch to provide collagen for underprivileged dogs. TV, we’ve seen what you can do. Please stop letting us down.




Cover Image Credit: https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/1971/08/all-in-the-family.jpg?w=670&h=377&crop=1

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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