Free «American Society and Sitcoms» Essay Paper

American Society and Sitcoms

1. Have minority groups and women been treated fairly by sitcoms? In answering reflect on examples of show dealing with African-Americans from "Amos 'n' Andy" and "Julia" to "Cosby" and "Bernie Mac". And of Latino images from “Chico and the Man" to "George Lopez." And of female images from "I love Lucy", "Donna Reed" and "That Girl" to "Mary Tyler Moore," "Maude," "Murphy Brown" to "Cougar Town".

Even though it might seem that minority groups and women have been treated fairly by sitcoms, particularly in recent years, the truth of the matter is that they have not. True, today’s sitcoms focus more on minority groups and women than ever before, but the question is not about there being more sitcoms focusing on minorities and women, but rather if this increased representation is actual a better (or at least fair) representation. As far as minority groups go, it is found that there is bias against them. In other words, there is a subtle discrimination against minority groups in sitcoms, especially against African Americans (who are almost always portrayed as servants, slaves, criminals, drug addicts, etc.). Minorities in sitcoms are always underrepresented when compared to the country’s white majority. In women’s case, the past feminist trend has been replaced by a post-feminist trend. Basically, while there are more women leads in today’s sitcoms, these leads trivialize feminist ideals and beliefs, rendering them unimportant (and keeping women ultimately subjugating to men in today’s society).

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2. How has the image of the "typical American family" changed on TV sitcoms from the 1950s shows like "Leave It To Beaver" and "Ozzie and Harriet" to the 1970s shows like "The Brady Bunch" to more recent shows like "Roseanne," "Married...With Children," and "Modern Family." What else might constitute a "family" in the world of sitcoms?

Throughout the last fifty years, there has been a major change in the image of the American family (as it is presented in sitcoms). In the past, sitcoms showcased a family unit in which the father was the smart, levelheaded one, while the woman was usually presented as being dumb. In these sitcoms, women were the subjects of scorn; the woman was the source of comedy. Subsequently, the family unit changed somewhat, and the father became the outright leader of the household (asserting his authority over his wife and his children every step of the way).  Today, however, the family unit is no longer commanded by the father, but actually by the mother. The father is now the dumb one; he is now the source of comedy. The mother, on the other hand, is the smart, mature, levelheaded parent. 

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