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Analyse And Evaluate The Interrelationship Between Society And A Media Genre

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Analyse and evaluate the interrelationship between society and a media genre

The interrelationship between society and sitcoms is due to the affect of societies influence on sitcoms and the influence sitcoms have on society. Certain aspects of this interrelationship include the role of women and how they are perceived, the role of the family group and the cultural ideas and products that are presented in particular sitcoms and how they relate to the time of society.

Societies influence on sitcoms originates from political values and the level of importance that is brought upon families at the time. The role of women has considerably changed since the 1950s where a woman's agenda in life was to be known as the obedient housewife, caring for the children and breadwinner husband. During World War II, some women had taken over male dominated jobs during their time at war and became accustomed to the life of the workforce until the return of men led women to return to their place in the domestic realm of society. Due to the sufferings that the men had been exposed to during the war, this resulted in the actions of women being caring and looking after the household, with dinner on the table, while the male worked to support the family.

The first American sitcom premiered on 15 October 1951 titled "I Love Lucy" starring Lucille Ball as the show's protagonist. The character of Lucy was somewhat an outstanding and unexpected role for women to play at the time and gave women, who were trapped in the role of a housewife, a liberal and enticing view of another aspect of life. This included moving away from the dominant stance that males held in a women's life. Men, at this time, were able to decide where and when a woman was allowed a social life and due to Lucille Ball's character Lucy, she acknowledged the fact that a change from 'male suffocation' was an acceptable advancement for women. Lucille Ball paved the way for women to promote their personality and live outside the realm of domesticity. She was the first female comedian of this time where it was inappropriate for women to play such a role that was male dominated and continued to do so, leading many others in her wake such as Mary Tyler Moore and Cybill Shepard.

The debut of this sitcom greatly influenced society as it led to out-of-character behaviour in women and promoted the idea of pregnancy in a public approach. This was because of the zany and disobedient character played by Ball whom also included her own private life pregnancy into the world of television. She endorsed the fact that pregnancy was acceptable by publicising the birth of her own child and also played her character as one who was not always willing to do her husband's duties and orders. Lucy Ricardo played by Ball, does not conform to the ideas of a housewife as she publicly seeks for a future in the workforce and constantly disobeys Ricky's orders. For example, in the episode "Lucy Does A TV Commercial" in 1952, Lucy and Ricky have a disagreement where her exposed stubbornness leads to her lack of household duties. "What do you want me to do starve to death...would you please..." This particular behaviour freed women in society of conventional roles and behaviour that they were authorised to stick to and gave them a refreshing and inviting release to be at an equal status to their husband or partner. Also, this particular sitcom was a possible opening of censorship norms as the audience viewed certain incidents that were not considered orderly and respectable of a young, newly married housewife, such as the state of drunkenness Lucy gets herself into.

Due to the strictness of the unwritten laws of society, such sitcoms were developed to allow equal gender roles to be established and to banish the idea of women being degraded and seen as a "prize".

The role of the family group was predominantly the main focus of one's life in the 1970s. Life in this decade revolved around those closest to you as conservatism was still strong and the idea of keeping up appearances was still important due to close neighbours in a suburban society. These ideas established from the unjust world to fight against segregation and economic deprivation from the themes bought up by civil right movements. Such ideas also created a sense of unity, which became a strong theme in the American culture of the 1950s and was constantly reflected in sensationalised sitcoms. Suburban living at this time was increasing as the "worldview of the middle class and its relationship with the rest of society" became less detached as the different classes of society became less inclusive. Morals and values became hugely important for families and sitcoms of this time as the characters began learning reflective lessons in front of the viewers, almost preaching the 'right way to live'. For example, "The Brady Bunch" reinforces ideas of the perfection of family life, lessons on how to bring up children and stamping ideas of morality into the audience. At the end of every episode it seems the parents put the children in their places, allowing them to learn their own lessons, yet teaching them of the rights and wrongs in life. In one particular episode, the major point of 'wrong-doing' is when one of the three sons tapes conversations that happen between other family members, that are confidential, and stirs his fellow siblings into turmoil, as they believe their supposed confidante has leaked private information. Once the culprit is revealed the betrayed siblings do the same to the young son but the 'mission' becomes intercepted by the parents who take over the case of emphasising that eavesdropping on conversations shows disrespect of privacy and how they should not take part in such activities again.

"The Brady Bunch" set the stage in the 1970s for families that were not always completely perfect. The two parents, whom were previously from unsuccessful relationships, marry each other and integrate their children from their previous relationship into their current family and home. This highlights the fact that attitudes in society were becoming more open and accepting. It also shows that instead of married couples being portrayed on screen there was also children of the couples being introduced enforcing the power and representation of family as positive and as a rite of passage in life for every married couple. Sitcoms based around family were promoting ideas of this and the future role that children would play in the perfect everyday household therefore encouraging family life in suburbia where "The Brady Bunch" was set, as a perfect stage and atmosphere for raising a 'healthy' family.



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