Sunday, November 13, 2011

PBS: "America in Primetime"

America in Primetime” is an important four-part series on PBS (one hour programs) examining characters who have appeared on primetime television over the years, from the viewpoint of the actors and creators.

The series runs Oct. 30-Nov. 20.   Oct 30 premiered with “Independent Women".

Nov. 13 reran “Man of the House” this afternoon, which explored the role of men – especially husbands and fathers – in primetime TV over the years.  A particularly funny moment from “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows playing the Kramdens, where Ralph says what men are good for and Alice puts him down.  Other famous sitcoms (not covered here) include, of course, “I Love Lucy”, with Desi Arnaz as the band leader – and “men are messy”.   “My Little Margie” played an investment advisor (Albright) with his daughter Margie, and a loser character Freddie for a boyfriend.  That show, with boss Honeywell, may have originated Donald Trump’s “You’re fired!”  I also remember “Amos ‘n’ Andy” which today would not be taken well as it satirizes African Americans.  I remember a funny episode where “there is no legal marriage between George Stephens and Sapphire Smith”, and where each tried to give everything away to the other so as not to appear selfish. 

The episode discusses many shows, most of all “The Sopranos” and “All in the Family”.  My own television preferences migrated away from shows of this nature as an adult.

In the evening, the episode “The Misfits” runs.

"Writers and directors try to connect with people with what they do."  And there is nothing more intimate than the "small screen" of television.  Then, it sets us up with, "we're living in the age of the nerds."  And, comedy "picks on people." If you do this with a misfit and the misfit holds together, everybody feels better. 

In time, television learned it could deviate from the "normal" without having to justify anything.

The episode had some clips from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks"  (but not "warm milk"), and then  with a gay character in "Six Feet Under", and then the series "True Blood" with its portrayal of vampires as a "minority" not needing "special rights."

The PBS link is here

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