Monday, August 03, 2015

Repost 60's Sitcoms

Looking for something else, I decided I liked my 2011 post about 60's sitcoms and a possible meaning behind the unusual number of aliens (space variety) and other, well, unusual folk. There is an internal link to an older post about why they killed off parents, especially mom, to set up the plots of 50's sitcoms.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

Missing Dad and Missing Mom set up completely different kinds of dramatic tension. Missing Dad is kind of banal, really, and works dramatically only if, as one of your commenters-within-a-link noted, Mom is left holding the bag running the ranch or the corporation or the kingdom or something. Missing Mom works better for a sitcom, which is expected to center on the family home, where the person missing needed to be someone considered indispensable. Neither of these really works for a modern audience, so we get plot twists of different sorts. The Weird Family Member with a Secret was great for a more conventional time, but not so much now; what would we hide these days, when we're playing for laughs? A similar dramatic structure that still works today, I suppose, is what I call the Myth of the Lost Pearl: a protagonist who doesn't really he's a superhero in disguise, or who at least misunderstands the nature of his special powers, like Superman or Hancock or the kid in The Sixth Sense. I don't think that one has gone out of style for millennia. The Secret Friend no one can see or believe in has enduring appeal as well.

Something another commenter mentioned was how many Disney stories started by killing off Mom, if not both Mom and Dad. It's a pattern that really applies to all stories with children or coming-of-age young adults as protagonists. You can't get much of a story going as long as the young person is still in the bosom of his family, so you need to dispatch the folks somehow. If they're not dead, they've at least got to be definitely lost or unavailable for a good while: Dorothy gets transported to Oz, that kind of thing.