Idealism in Sitcoms

By: Alex Giacco

The Cosby ShowRoseanne, and Cheers all took different approaches to stereotypes in sitcoms. I think the 80s sitcoms educated America on topics of gender, masculinity, and sexuality in ways that had not been done before this decade.

Obviously now The Cosby Show has a dark shadow over its importance, but still provides value on how the 80s viewed masculinity. It was special also because there was finally a black man in a lead role of the most popular show. Roseanne is trailblazing because the sitcom is not about a perfectly idealized woman, and yet the Roseanne character still provides compelling narrative to the sitcom despite not looking like a model. Cheers shows these masculine ex-MLB players who are being confronted with homosexuality and ultimately being accepting of it. The 80s taught America to be open about accomplishing things in more than one way.

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5 Responses to Idealism in Sitcoms

  1. marymdalton says:

    By a “dark shadow,” I believe you are referring to the sexual abuse scandal Bill Cosby is confronting now. Horrific, isn’t it? The legacy of the series (and all of his work) is certainly in jeopardy. It is hard for me to watch him now…

  2. mediaphiles says:

    This is exactly how I felt about the 80s sitcoms. They dealt with real issues and helped the public deal with them too. I love that Roseanne gave a more realistic depiction of family life and not everything was perfect. I think that Roseanne opened the door for more shows like that to be made and accepted by Americans. -Elizabeth Joyner

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I thought it was extremely interesting while looking at sitcoms through the 1980’s. There were obviously many shows that broke stereotypes and gender norms. Can you think of any shows today that do that or might have that sort of legacy? — Sam Beckerman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with your point of view regarding the sitcoms from the 1980s. For me, I enjoyed Cheers the most and connected with its representation of the ideal public sphere. I have had some great times talking about life with friends in a bar atmosphere.

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