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The Brilliant Imagination of American Television


Argus

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I happened upon an episode of "All in the Family" not too long ago (just by chance...I'm not an "oldies tv" sort of guy), in which a young man tried to rape Edith.

It was a long, painful, surprisingly intense scene.

Similarly, there was an episode of "Maude" in which Maude has an abortion.

I would suggest that both these scenarios are literally unthinkable in contemporary mainstream situation comedies. If someone were to be victim of an attempted sexual assault, it would be brief and unbelievable, with no psychological consequences for the intended victim; and when a character gets pregnant (as they often do), the unequivocal result is always a baby.

Perhaps they've lost their guts.

I'm sure one could think of 'serious moments' in sitcoms. Even Seinfeld had one.

But AITF and Maude were different - based on real-life controversies and in the era of "I Dream of Jeannie" they were quite groundbreaking. Archie and Meathead were proxies for the very real and very heated debates that were happening in America at that time, and - up until that show - the reason that people turned on the TV to forget about all of it.

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I'm sure one could think of 'serious moments' in sitcoms. Even Seinfeld had one.

I can't think of any...not at the level of rape, or of the lead character having and then justifying an abortion.

I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you; only that I can't think of any.

But AITF and Maude were different - based on real-life controversies and in the era of "I Dream of Jeannie" they were quite groundbreaking. Archie and Meathead were proxies for the very real and very heated debates that were happening in America at that time, and - up until that show - the reason that people turned on the TV to forget about all of it.

Good point.

Edited by bloodyminded
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I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you; only that I can't think of any.

If you're younger than me, maybe you can remember an episode of Dif'rent Strokes when Arnold's friend was being abused by a friend of the parent.

They used to say "Next, a very special episode of..."

Hey - looky here - Wikipedia talks about it

Also a summary from MSN, including the Punky Brewster where they talk about the Challenger Explosion.

Very Special Episodes have been on the decline since the age of irony.

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If you're younger than me, maybe you can remember an episode of Dif'rent Strokes when Arnold's friend was being abused by a friend of the parent.

They used to say "Next, a very special episode of..."

Hey - looky here - Wikipedia talks about it

Also a summary from MSN, including the Punky Brewster where they talk about the Challenger Explosion.

Very Special Episodes have been on the decline since the age of irony.

I wouldn't count the Challenger explosion, as that's not exactly touching upon divisive and controversial social issues.

Many of the others are excellent examples, however, so i concede your point.

Still...i maintain that a character having an abortion has become taboo....which is odd, considering how common the procedure is.

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I wouldn't count the Challenger explosion, as that's not exactly touching upon divisive and controversial social issues.

Many of the others are excellent examples, however, so i concede your point.

Still...i maintain that a character having an abortion has become taboo....which is odd, considering how common the procedure is.

I dont think many characters have had a colonoscopy either. Except Hank Hill. I love King of the Hill.

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  • 5 weeks later...
The whole thing is a scam to sneak shows past the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds,

That is a relatively small part of the true reason that reality TV is so popular with producers and networks: it is very cheap to produce compared to just about anything else.

The Canadian show I yearn for was of course canned by the CBC after just two excellent years: Intelligence. I think the title alone was just too challenging alone for CBC execs.

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I think that's the heart of the problem.

NBC was pretty up front about it when they moved Jay Leno into prime time last year (what a bright idea that turned out to be!) Their explanation was that even if Leno didn't draw the same ratings as the handful of new shows that he was taking the place of, it was still a cost effective move because the lower revenue is more than offset by their savings on the cost of developing new shows.

Maybe the revenue model for broadcast TV has broken down to the point that producing new quality programs is no longer viable, and all that's left is sports, reality shows, and a handful of proven winners that keep sticking around (police procedural franchise, medical melodrama franchise, generic sitcoms #1 and #2.)

Maybe the good shows are all on cable now because cable has the revenue model figured out: there are enough people who will pay to watch something good to make producing something good a viable business.

I think August at some point predicted this. :ph34r:

-k

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Maybe the good shows are all on cable now because cable has the revenue model figured out: there are enough people who will pay to watch something good to make producing something good a viable business.

-k

The other argument is that if people pay (subscribe) they watch more intently and therefore the advertiser has a better chance of reaching them....which means you can charge more per 1000 viewers...

Not always the case in Canada

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