vendredi 31 octobre 2014

How Classic TV Sitcoms Helped Change Attitudes

By Young Lindsay

After a long day at work, there's no better way to relax than to watch a comedy on TV. A good laugh, after all, helps you to forget about the stresses of the day. Some classic TV sitcoms have even helped to change the way people look at certain issues but did it by using humor, so that people didn't even realize that their perspective changed.

Unlike many other genres of comedy, the sitcom creates the laughs through several characters who find themselves in a certain situation. In fact, the word 'sitcom' is derived from 'situation comedy'. TV sitcoms started after World War 2 and there have been some truly great shows, such as 'I Love Lucy' and 'Fawlty Towers'. Sometimes lines from these shows were even taken up by popular culture.

The focus of many popular sitcoms has been the family. This was especially the case in the USA in the Seventies and Eighties, with shows like 'The Brady Bunch', 'Eight Is Enough', 'Family Ties' and 'The Cosby Show'. These families were usually the traditional idea of what a family should be, with a mom, a dad and several children, and fit in with the 'family values' spirit of the time.

Today not many families resemble the traditional model. There are many households headed by a single parent, for instance. Some shows of the Eighties started touching on this idea, notably 'Full House', which showed men in all the parenting roles, and 'Kate and Allie' with its two single mothers. Some families today consist of adult relatives living in the same household, such as Frasier Crane and his father Marty in 'Frasier'.

With many young adults moving to the big city, they often find themselves substitute families to act as support system. These new 'families' usually consist of several close friends and have featured in hugely popular shows such as 'Seinfeld', 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Friends'. 'Will and Grace' added another dimension by featuring openly gay characters.

Cultural differences can make for some great laughs, as proved by the old British sitcom 'Mind Your Language', about an eclectic group of immigrants learning English. However, shows that used this theme have been very helpful in creating cultural tolerance and understanding. 'Aliens in America', for instance, featured a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan, at a time when many in the Western world feared Islam.

A long-running sitcom of the Eighties had as its setting one of the most horrific situations possible. 'MASH' was set during the Korean War, specifically in an army field hospital. Heart-wrenching scenes of death and destruction were placed in between scenes of the wildest, funniest antics. Interestingly, this was very realistic, since humor was a way for medical personnel during that war, and in most others, to handle the daily horrors of armed conflict.

If you want to watch a classic sitcom again, you have different options. One is to be on the lookout for reruns on television. Another is to buy a DVD of a particular series. Even easier, however, is to find a website that will allow you to stream your favorite shows live.

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