Sitcoms in American Culture

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March 5, 2012

Scarlett and Danielle: The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Filed under: 1970s — dmcapi11 @ 11:41 pm

 The 1970′s was a time filled with feminist movements and new power for women. Although many women believed in total equality, the transition was not the smoothest. This is shown in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary is a single woman who finds her self in the workplace, which women of this time period could relate to. Unfortunatley, people can not get past the fact that she is a woman in the man’s world/workplace. She is still treated inferior and different because she is a woman. She takes on the role as the mother of wife in the work place so she still fills some domestic roles of the time. She also stands her ground though when it comes to her rights. She tells her boss Lou that it is not okay and against her rights when he is asking inappropriate questions when it comes to her interview that have to do with her gender. This shows the feminist role of the curent time. Mary also shows signs of the sexual revolution that was affecting gender roles. She is openly on the pill and even has relaionships based on how a man looks. Mary’s friends Phyllis and Rhoda also fit gender roles of the time. Phyllis is married and seems to be in a cage of domesticity which was a common feeling among real women. Rhoda was single and upset about the fact that she did not have a man, another view which was common in the time period. Evidence for this is shown in the chapter from Spangler 1970s: Spunky Girls and Angry Women and the book Prime-Time Feminism. They both discuss have parts whch either discuss the gender roles in the 1970s and or how the characters fufilled these roles. Along with these gender roles, the 1970s included incidents such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal which led to people’s mistrust of the government.  There were many connectons between the time period and the episodes we watched. For example, in the pilot episode, Mary is in a work family instead of the traditional family. She finds that Lou and other men are ot treating her fairly but she sticks up for her rights. She even dumps her boyfriend who wants her to settle for domesticity instead of what she wants. She shows her feminist side but also how hard it was to make it. Also in the episode, The Snow Must Go On, Mary is put in charge of the show, which was a big deal since she was a woman, but she finds that no one will listen to her because of her sex and how timid she is because of that.

Questions on M*A*S*H

Filed under: 1970s — jbmccr11 @ 1:05 pm
  1. M*A*S*H is very similar to previous sitcoms in its willingness to push boundaries as long as, by the end of the episode, everything has returned to normal. The show didn’t reinvent the genre as workplace sitcoms had existed previously, however it did provide a new spin on that sub-genre with a darker mood and a new setting.
  2. The opposition of the stress of life-saving and the dark humor mixed with an ironic levity creates the show’s unique narrative. Over time, the characters change and learn from some of their previous mistakes. The majority of the players on the set are performing and that is part of what makes the show so entertaining. The goofy interactions between Radar and Col. Blake are a perfect example of this performance.
  3. The laugh track in M*A*S*H is very important as it tells the audience when to laugh. With a show that incorporates so much sarcasm the laugh track becomes an important tool for the audience.
  4. Many elements of the show were regarded as offensive by different audiences, but the major problem that M*A*S*H had was the fact that those who had been in war, specifically the Korean war, felt that the show made too light of the situation and didn’t accurately represent wartime. This is made clear by Michael Carmack’s criticisms.
  5. This show was popular with a large audience because it acknowledged current issues like that of sexuality and provided new looks at them. It gave viewers examples of sexually liberated characters. This is made evident by Judy Kutulas’ New Liberated Women and New Sensitive Men.
  6. The time period in which M*A*S*H was produced was one of change. The show certainly accurately represented certain gender roles of the time, and misrepresented others. One way or another, the show had an impact on the gender roles at the time and offered a new source of sexual liberation to those in need. Again, New Liberated Women and New Sensitive Men makes this clear.
  7. Kutulas discussed the social context of the show very thoroughly with regard to gender roles. She gave a picture of a generation of the children of the baby boomers who were looking for new sources of entertainment to keep up with a demand for a liberation from previous norms. M*A*S*H answered this call in many ways with its credits, in which a naked man and woman come out of the women’s showers well after the rest of the women have rushed out to prepare for incoming wounded.


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