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3.4 | Understand the relationship between a genre and society.

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1 3.4 | Understand the relationship between a genre and society

2 Politics – Republican vs. Democrat 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

3 Families watching families Familiar characters and situations Appeal – Common to society, grown up with them Humour as a tool for social engineering Sitcoms are common to each decade – TV staple Old sitcoms are social time capsules – a window into a different time/era on social level.

4 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 its okay to NOT fit the American Dream. Society influenced political/social content – Relevant and reflective of era. Roles – Catharsis \ Counselling \ Couching \ Comfort Food

5 The 60s – Magi-com Magic become a recurring theme in sitcoms to distract Americans from strife in their country and introduce new facets of society – often metaphorical. The 70s – Sex-com With the sexual revolution underway, women had governance of their own bodies and sex become a strong element of humour. The 80s – Family-com Divorce and single-parent families were on the rise and America was adjusting to this new family, while Reagan was trying to reinforce the nuclear family of old. The 90s – Single-com The survivors of divorce and dysfunction, Gen X took centre stage as did their mistrust for the institution of marriage, thereby making families from their friends. The 00s – Me-com Television and the family unit has fragmented to such a degree that today people seek out their own experiences of family – ideal or real – from the many channels.

6 The comic trap – the family unit in whatever form. 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

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8 Establish American Dream as cornerstone of Post WWII US society The move to suburbia Introduce the housewife as the post Rosie the Riveter ideal for women – can link to post-Noir study well. 1950s Father Knows Best – taste of early sitcoms.

9 Bewitched (1964 – 1972) Bewitched (1964 – 1972) I Dream of Jeannie I Dream of Jeannie The Munsters The Munsters The Addams Family The Addams Family My Favourite Martian My Favourite Martian Mr. Ed Mr. Ed

10 The American Dream of white suburban middle class (Comic Trap) The American Dream of white suburban middle class (Comic Trap) Metaphor of witch as modern woman (Fish out of Water) Metaphor of witch as modern woman (Fish out of Water) Traditional patriarchal man/husband (Naive Fool) Traditional patriarchal man/husband (Naive Fool)

11 Samanthas otherness of intelligence, intuition and resourcefulness is allowed because shes a witch. Samanthas otherness of intelligence, intuition and resourcefulness is allowed because shes a witch. Magi-com helped Americans escape from the horrors of the 60s – JFK assassinated, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Civil Rights Violence Magi-com helped Americans escape from the horrors of the 60s – JFK assassinated, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Civil Rights Violence. Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique likened the suburban home to a comfortable concentration camp. Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique likened the suburban home to a comfortable concentration camp. Bewitched – and other magi-coms – touches on social issues in very oblique manner. Magical women – response to burgeoning womens empowerment; Monsters & Aliens – response to post WWII immigration from Europe. Bewitched – and other magi-coms – touches on social issues in very oblique manner. Magical women – response to burgeoning womens empowerment; Monsters & Aliens – response to post WWII immigration from Europe.

12 Soap ( ) All in the Family The Mary Tyler Moore Show The Jeffersons Welcome back, Kotter. One Day at a Time

13 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.

14 Jessica is the fish out of water – a throwback to the traditional housewife a little too strung out on Valium but finding her own independence. She expresses guilt for every action she takes. Does not believe Chester is having and affair. Jessica is the fish out of water – a throwback to the traditional housewife a little too strung out on Valium but finding her own independence. She expresses guilt for every action she takes. Does not believe Chester is having and affair. Chester is cocky and arrogant as the Naive Fool – he feels untouchable and complacent that he is the head of the house, no one will question his actions and represents the traditional patriarchal social and governing structure of US society that was eroding due to Vietnam, civil rights successes and Nixon. Chester is cocky and arrogant as the Naive Fool – he feels untouchable and complacent that he is the head of the house, no one will question his actions and represents the traditional patriarchal social and governing structure of US society that was eroding due to Vietnam, civil rights successes and Nixon. The family unit is no longer ideal or cohesive. The lid is coming off suburban life and the secrets of the middle/upper classes is starting to show and take its toll on the nuclear family. The family unit is no longer ideal or cohesive. The lid is coming off suburban life and the secrets of the middle/upper classes is starting to show and take its toll on the nuclear family. Men are portrayed as traditional and foolish, women as independent but struggling to find their place in the world. Men are portrayed as traditional and foolish, women as independent but struggling to find their place in the world. Jodie is one of the first openly gay characters on US television – how people regard him becomes a running joke of Soap and points the finger more satirically back at the old views as archaic and bigoted. Jodie is one of the first openly gay characters on US television – how people regard him becomes a running joke of Soap and points the finger more satirically back at the old views as archaic and bigoted. Multiple storylines or extended story arcs were becoming a feature of the sitcom – adopted from other genres – and would continue in later sitcoms. The reasoning was the audiences becoming more savvy. In the 70s this awareness of audience was revolutionary. Multiple storylines or extended story arcs were becoming a feature of the sitcom – adopted from other genres – and would continue in later sitcoms. The reasoning was the audiences becoming more savvy. In the 70s this awareness of audience was revolutionary.

15 Kate and Allie ( ) Designing Women Golden Girls The Cosby Show Roseanne Growing Pains Family Ties

16 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.

17 The dramatic rise of divorce in America signalled the end of the nuclear family as the American Dream, but not before Reagan tried to re-instil family values – a war that was seemingly waged in sitcoms more than anywhere else. The dramatic rise of divorce in America signalled the end of the nuclear family as the American Dream, but not before Reagan tried to re-instil family values – a war that was seemingly waged in sitcoms more than anywhere else. Traditional shows like The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Growing Pains reframed the family in a yesteryear context of supposed middle class perfection and a father-centric household. Traditional shows like The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Growing Pains reframed the family in a yesteryear context of supposed middle class perfection and a father-centric household. While the non-traditional family often affected by divorce allowed Americans to take comfort in their supposed failure to not achieve the American Dream or lose touch with it. Shows like Kate and Allie, Designing Women, Golden Girls and My Sister Sam spent a great deal of time empowering women and helping them come to terms with their new realities. Divorce was a fact of life and these shows allowed Americans to understand that there was life after divorce. While the non-traditional family often affected by divorce allowed Americans to take comfort in their supposed failure to not achieve the American Dream or lose touch with it. Shows like Kate and Allie, Designing Women, Golden Girls and My Sister Sam spent a great deal of time empowering women and helping them come to terms with their new realities. Divorce was a fact of life and these shows allowed Americans to understand that there was life after divorce. Roseanne shone light on the blue-collar life of working class families and allowed for a traditional nuclear family that was mother-centric. A popular sitcom it spoke to Middle America considerably better than its genre counterparts like the Huxtables in their New York Brownstone or the Seavers in their sprawling two-storey suburban home. Roseanne shone light on the blue-collar life of working class families and allowed for a traditional nuclear family that was mother-centric. A popular sitcom it spoke to Middle America considerably better than its genre counterparts like the Huxtables in their New York Brownstone or the Seavers in their sprawling two-storey suburban home. Sitcoms of the 80s spoke strongly to the failure of the American Dream and reverted – regardless of the familial comic trap – to the heart-warming message of the week, its humour seeming forced and cheesy like older, simpler times. Sitcoms of the 80s spoke strongly to the failure of the American Dream and reverted – regardless of the familial comic trap – to the heart-warming message of the week, its humour seeming forced and cheesy like older, simpler times.

18 Friends ( ) Seinfeld Frazier Caroline in the City Will and Grace Ellen

19 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

20 All characters in the single-com are fish out of water – characters displaced by divorce, gender rights and issues making their way in the 90s. All characters in the single-com are fish out of water – characters displaced by divorce, gender rights and issues making their way in the 90s. As Generation X comes of age so to does their mistrust of traditional marriage and family as respected institutions. Thereby the comic trap has become the pseudo family – a family of supportive friends rather than blood relatives. As Generation X comes of age so to does their mistrust of traditional marriage and family as respected institutions. Thereby the comic trap has become the pseudo family – a family of supportive friends rather than blood relatives. No longer were sitcoms simpler workplace or suburban family based sitcoms, the genre was reflective of trends in society to delay marriage, choose career over family, and occasionally comment on the perils of marrying young. No longer were sitcoms simpler workplace or suburban family based sitcoms, the genre was reflective of trends in society to delay marriage, choose career over family, and occasionally comment on the perils of marrying young. More often was sex a tremendous focal point of the storylines and the characters – importance to relationships, one-night stands, condoms, age differences in relationships, same sex couples, single mothers, sexual pleasure and fulfilment. More often was sex a tremendous focal point of the storylines and the characters – importance to relationships, one-night stands, condoms, age differences in relationships, same sex couples, single mothers, sexual pleasure and fulfilment. Story arcs continued across episodes and across seasons. Story arcs continued across episodes and across seasons. Heavy influence of Gen X as the survivors of divorce and the up-and-coming influencers of American society and pop-culture – offering a far different view of America as the baby-boomers moved out of the focus taking with them their attitudes and influence. Heavy influence of Gen X as the survivors of divorce and the up-and-coming influencers of American society and pop-culture – offering a far different view of America as the baby-boomers moved out of the focus taking with them their attitudes and influence.

21 Entourage (2004 ) The Big Bang Theory How I Met Your Mother Sex and the City Two and a Half Men Scrubs My Name is Earl

22 The family is now fragmented to the viewers 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.

23 The fragmentation of the TV networks from the big 4 to cable to DVD and internet has had a huge impact on the sitcom. No longer is it the family experience for everyone, it is everyones experience of family – be it nuclear, dysfunctional, divorced, pseudo. The rules have changed so much about what constitutes family that today anything goes. The fragmentation of the TV networks from the big 4 to cable to DVD and internet has had a huge impact on the sitcom. No longer is it the family experience for everyone, it is everyones experience of family – be it nuclear, dysfunctional, divorced, pseudo. The rules have changed so much about what constitutes family that today anything goes. The comic traps are narrowcast to specific audiences – this includes the heavy saturation of tween friendly shows on Disney and Nickelodeon – or more adult-focused like Sex and the City or Entourage. In an era of each to their own, each can have their own. The sitcom is evolving to refelct the America that is contemporary to the audience and the society that takes humour from it. The comic traps are narrowcast to specific audiences – this includes the heavy saturation of tween friendly shows on Disney and Nickelodeon – or more adult-focused like Sex and the City or Entourage. In an era of each to their own, each can have their own. The sitcom is evolving to refelct the America that is contemporary to the audience and the society that takes humour from it.

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25 Television Modern Family Cougar Town The United States of Tara The Internet Red vs. Blue The Guild

26 The comic trap of a family will remain the staple of the sitcom – its just that today that family can be anything. An important factor to consider is the impact the internet – or primarily YouTube will have on the television sitcom. Already the idea of the sitcom has transferred well to the internet in webisode format and so niche targeted that audience size is not nearly as important as audience following. Cult texts like Red vs. Blue, Dr. Horribles Sing-Along-Blog, Robot Chicken and The Guild are the first step in the sitcoms branching out onto the internet. There will always be a place for the televised sitcom as television and the sitcom have been part of American culture for over half a century now – it just seems the content and conventions will update to reflect the status quo of US society. And through humour the sitcom will allow Americans to come to terms with their changing society and realise that change can be a good thing.

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