Liberals Rule the Sitcom?

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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

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6 Responses to Liberals Rule the Sitcom?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    This is very interesting to me because I am incorporating a lot of these points into my final paper on “Orange is the New Black.” Your question is an interesting one, and is one certainly worthy of asking. The appearance of LGBTQ characters, both as actors and as characters, is of particular interest to me and I appreciate your mention of it. Especially in contrast to something like “Leave it to Beaver,” this is awesome. – Corey

  2. mediaphiles says:

    This is such an interesting blog post! I believe that sitcoms act as pioneers of progressive ideas. They are a good way of introducing ideas in a humorous and non-offensive manor. I also love Amy Schumer as well, especially her nonchalance in discussing things that would be deemed “unlady like.”

    Stephanie Rubin

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Andrew, I really enjoyed reading your post because you brought up some very important and interesting ideas. I totally agree with you about the fact that many sitcoms nowadays do seem to lean more towards the liberal side. But, I personally love this about television today and I think it took way too long for it to be accepted in media culture. I also believe that Amy Schumer has done an incredibly job at celebrating equality in various forms.
    -Allie Kleinman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I think this is such a poignant argument. There is no doubt that liberals rule the sitcom, and I think some of this stems from the fact that sitcoms are generally more progressive and in line with certain liberal views. I can’t picture a show being able to satirize and defend opposing gay marriage or abortion in a way that audiences would accept. I think comedy creates an outlet to support some of these social issues and cause the viewer to think by presenting information in a different way. On a spectrum of liberal to conservative, many of these issues are in line with conservative ideals, so it makes sense that comedy has a more liberal perspective.

    Arianna Gershon

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Your comment about maybe you only watch the kinds of sitcoms you agree with seems right. I think Hollywood on a whole is pretty liberal, which means a lot of series are more liberal, but television caters to everyone. There are more conservative sitcoms out there. CBS is a good place to find a number. They’re also more traditionally shot (multicam). I you may be taking the term conservative too strictly. It’s not let’s go back to the 1950s. As America has evolved, so have the meaning of words like liberal and conservative. – Max Dosser

  6. marymdalton says:

    Great post and discussion. One thing to remember is that even if some of the “creatives” are liberal, the big bosses are the corporations that own the networks, studios, other distribution services. So, while we might see some movement on social issues, most series are still rather conservative when it comes to maintaining the status quo — keeping the major institutions of government, the economy, and culture intact.

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