Ever since the event of television itself the theme of the American dream has been interwoven into our sitcoms reinforcing a lifestyle of individual liberty, wealth and successful relationships. The American dream was first described in James Turtles Adams’ book the Epic of America 1931 as “the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. Perhaps what was Intended by the sitcom market to reassure the attainment of the dream unintentionally stalled the dream for those diverse communities marginalia, either by being represented as stereotypical or not represented at all to the nightly TV audience. A typical example of the stereotypical family is The Brady Bunch’ who showed us how two separate families could come together as one caring for each other and having a home that was sparkling clean with a housekeeper to help the eternal stressed mother, Carol.
Mike, the father, came home after a long day to a three course meal with his beaming wife and children gathered around the table. Was this what Americans perceived as ‘normal? Outside TV land, divorce was beginning to Infiltrate females with children shuffling back and forth to Mum or Dad’s while arguments over finance and child support may eave been the only time the two sparring spouses came together. Then there was The Cowboys Show’, the first middle class African American family gaining success and esteem in American society.
Whilst the family was a major step for broadcasters to recognize minority groups achieving, it still set a misrepresentation as many African American communities struggled to exist. Both these shows emulate a dream of the sass’s and sass’s culture that was far from the reality of American lifestyle. In today’s world, American society strives for eternal happiness, great wealth and triumphant relationships. It seems to me that family based sitcoms such as ‘7th Heaven’ and The Brady Bunch’ leave American’s with the idea that they too can conclave sun luxury In Just ten Dining AT an eye.
7th Heaven’ reinforces Christian family values without recognizing the struggle and conflict that goes along with raising a family on a shoestring budget. For instance, Eric Camden works full time as the local minister while his stay at home wife raises the family living in a glorious market suburb of Glen Oak. Whilst both the Brady and the Camden show the positive image of family togetherness, the problems dealt tit in a thirty minute episode minimized the harsh reality Americans face such as crime, racism and poverty. Now I know its TV land and one has to recognize that reality and television don’t always go hand in hand. However, so much criticism of American TV sitcoms such as ‘King of Queens’, ‘Friends’ and Will and Grace’ is that they mislead and influence the American people.
Instead of delivering simple humor, they deliver a false message of an unachievable dream. Do the shows reflect society or does society try to reflect the shows? If you look at the mad rush of females copying the ‘Jennifer Mansion’ aircraft and flocking to New York City for a rare chance as an elite clothes buyer in downtown Manhattan, you’d have to agree television sitcoms have a strong pull on what to dream. Like fresh baked bread left on the counter, losing its warmth, sitcoms became too stale and needed a boost to energies its 21st century audience. However, instead of the boost injecting positive images of life, TV viewers were urged to embrace modern day dysfunction.
The once marginal’s groups of overweight middle aged men suddenly became ‘King of Queens’, while homosexual moved from not being consider in the media to being attractive humorous men cohabitation with both gays and straights in Will and Grace. Other dysfunctional variations of the dream are shown through sitcoms such as ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, a financially, insecure dysfunctional family dealing with their issues. Although this may come across as more realistic, I assure you it’s not. Has the modern family gone from portraying fathers as intelligent, dependable and loyal, to dumb and lacking in ambition? Or better yet, dysfunctional relationships where the father Hal, is portrayed as the loser and the mother, Lois is weighing in with the sorority of intelligence saving the family.
Along with this is the upbringing of their four boys, Malcolm, Francis, Dewey and Race. By watching only a single episode we can see the dysfunction and ‘real life’ issues the family deals with being the highlight of the show rather than the moral lessons learned. Over the years, the ‘perfect’ family based sitcom is getting closer to the pile of garbage waiting to be picked up. ‘Friends’ and Will and Grace’ deal with issues of single, homosexual and working Americans. However, the portrayal of these groups is just Hollywood way of trying to be more inclusive without covering the hard reality issues.
Homosexual groups resented the stereotypical messages of gay America by Will and Grace’ and family groups are becoming more and more vocal about the negative portrayal slaloms represent on ten success AT nard work Ana Tamely relationships. A typical example of this is ‘Friends’ the market 30 something crowd of six beautiful friends working very little of the time, falling in and out of relationships yet attaining the most modern apartment and designer clothes. In fact Rachel who works very little of the time gets to fly off to Paris for her dream Job with no sighing of the baby she had as a single mother a few episodes previously.
Overall the message now is it’s K to be sarcastic, cynical and dumb, rather than reach for the best. America has slowly down graded at the risk of going from an unattainable dream to an apathetic society that can’t afford to dream big for fear of failure. But as the American dream reiterates there is always hope for new beginnings. Maybe the solution is simpler than we think. We should move off our couches, turn off the TV and embrace our own dream. Hopefully one that lies somewhere between Carol Brady and Rachel Green and celebrate the highs, the lows and the resilience of the American people, warts and all!