Still from Inside Amy Schumer, “Welcome to the Gun Show” (Season 4, Episode 2, 2016.)
Inside Amy Schumer is one of my favorite sitcoms and, in turn, Amy Schumer is one of my favorite comedians. Although I am a fan of her crude humor and self-deprecation, I especially love how she challenges conventional femininity by discussing her sex life and other topics that are considered masculine. She has also done skits that question the NRA’s influence on Congress, critique the rape culture in the sports entertainment industry, and analyze the stigma against female contraception and abortion. Similar to Saturday Night Live, Amy Schumer uses her sitcom and its skit structure to produce a cultural commentary.
The progression of the sitcom as a production of conservative ideals, as exemplified by Leave It To Beaver and other early family sitcoms, towards a safe haven for liberal criticism is interesting to me. Do liberal ideals now dominate sitcoms? Modern sitcoms are a stark contrast to what we studied in the 1950s. For example, there is the appearance of LGBTQ characters, a general indifference toward premarital sex, and a growing racial diversity. Family Guy discusses the impracticality of organized religion, Broad City and New Girl has characters that love Hillary Clinton, Parks and Recreation has an entire episode dedicated to same-sex marriage, Sex and the City showcases female promiscuity, and, in general, feminist characters seem to have become more abundant. The political and societal discourse are embedded within the hilarity and they can sometimes be easy to miss. To be fair, I am liberal individual, so maybe I just subconsciously watch shows that I agree with avoid more traditional sitcoms. In turn, Hollywood and the United State may have loosened on traditional values, but there are still segments of the general population that are generally conservative.
Does it bother conservatives that these sitcoms do not reflect the “good ole days”? Do some viewers feel offended by a disregard for their own conservative sentiments? Or do people turn on sitcoms without noticing or caring? Personally, I think some of this change in television has made media more accepting and open-minded. In the end, I wonder if this trend will continue as the traditional nuclear family continues to decline.
by Andrew Guido