Escapism and Binge-watching

By Sarah Teegarden

This week we discussed the introduction of fantasy and surreal sitcoms like “Mister Ed” and “Bewitched”. We talked about the Escapism that comes with them. Since these shows are such a stretch from reality it invites viewers to completely forget the harsh truths of life and fall into a fantasy world. I agree with Kenton that these Magicoms cause viewers to escape reality, but I’d extend his argument to say that all sitcoms invite viewers to escape reality.

Kenton argue that Magicoms were a form of escapism, but I’d argue further that all sitcoms are a form of escapism. Sitcoms are meant to portray a certain life situation; the content is clearly fictional, but I think that the lack of reality portrayed in most sitcoms makes them Escapism shows too. The sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s portrayed an idealized American family. People watched the domestic sitcoms of the 50s and 60s in hopes of becoming that perfect family, even though it wasn’t possible to be a perfect family. Today, I think that sitcoms do a better job of displaying the imperfections of life, but they still display lifestyles that are often not realistic. For instance, in Modern Family the episodes often show the imperfections of the family, but it always ends with a happy ending. The family always resolves the fight, always sticks together, always overcomes the trial, never suffers from financial problems. Yes, sitcoms are fictional, but I think the fictionality of them classifies them as escapist shows.

I don’t think that Magicoms should be marginalized as escapism shows, because I think that all sitcoms invite their viewers to abandon the realities of life in some way. A perfect example of all sitcoms being escapism shows is the “binge-watching” age we’re in today. People watch shows on repeat, indulging in the life of characters and ignoring the realities of life. I think that all sitcoms are a form of escapism, but my question is: is this bad? Do you think America’s tendency to indulge in watching television shows is bad? Is our relation and admiration of fictional characters dangerous?

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One Response to Escapism and Binge-watching

  1. marymdalton says:

    I don’t think critical viewing is bad…but there does need to be balance!

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