Wednesday, April 22, 2009

my how we've changed. i hope.

I was talking with a group of friends yesterday, and the subject of early TV shows came up. We are all old enough to remember the early fifties, and what was interesting, we all were in total agreement as to how awful, how demeaning, many of the top rated comedies and shows were.

The Honeymooners, which actually had a very short run, with Jackie Gleason as the verbally abusive bus driver husband was known for his charming insecurities and his anger, which he took out on his sarcastic wife, with the phrase, "To the MOON, Alice, to the MOON". And she would just ignore him or say "you and what army?"

The Lucille Ball Show, beloved of a lot of people, even to this day, makes me cringe when I see it. yes, I know it was the fifties. yes, I know it was considered funny. It also showed women how to get around their domineering husbands by lying, trickery, and cajolery. Ricky Ricardo, of course, pretended to be surprised, and 'forgave" his wife who then responded with "awww ricky" and all was happy again.

A few years later "All in the Family" which was loosely based on a British show of the same name, but took its cues from the Honeymooners, had Archie Bunker in a constant battle of put downs to his idiot son in law, his ditzy wife Edith, and most of his neighbors. This was not funny.

Sid Caesar was abusive, arrogant, high strung, and he and Imogene Coca seemed to be of the same ilk as Lucy and Desi; dumb wife, domineering husband.

Seen in the social context of the fifties, this was not unusual, but seen in the context of the past twenty or thirty years, it's appalling.

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