By: Sarah Boyce
For this week’s timeline, I did the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought this was important because of the significance of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. What really struck me this week, though, was the complete lack of African Americans in television as well as disregard to any of the social issues going on at this time. By reading the Sitcom Reader, I learned that there was this “whiteout” in the 1960s where no sitcoms had African Americans in leading roles. It was not until 1968, when Julia introduced the first African American woman as a leading role. However, The Sitcom Reader points out that Carroll’s character is “whitened” and people believe the show did not reflect the reality life of most African Americans during this time.
The 1960s were full of social issues such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Women’s movements, the Vietnam War, and many more. I thought it was interesting that television decided to completely avoid any confrontation about social issues all together. It is almost like they did not want to get involved and wanted people to think everything was okay while watching television. This relates to what Gary Kenton described that people are very vulnerable to sitcoms during this time. Because television creates this medium that impacts us without us knowing, people are manipulated into listening to the messages presented on television and forgetting about certain social issues.