Rick and Morty Return!

Finally after two year hiatus fans around the world can rejoice as Rick and Morty returns for their highly anticipated third season. After releasing a teaser episode to the season where Rick escapes from the Galactic Federation and destroys its economy, one can only wonder as to what crazy adventures Rick and Morty, possibly including Summer and Beth more often, they can get into.

 

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I could not be more excited to see what Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have in store for us as the Smith family continues to tackle any issue they see fit. Rick and Morty have managed to become one of the most clever shows television, as alcoholic mad scientist Rick Sanchez leads the ensemble on their multidimensional trips as they face the cold, hard reality of life and how vast the universe is. However in doing so they manage to undercut the seriousness of the issues and distance us enough to laugh along. Rick and Morty are, by far, one of the greatest duo’s in recent television history as Morty’s grounded morals is the complete opposite of Rick’s anti-establishment, sometimes questionable, mentality. It’s often these questionable actions that are the catalyst to these misadventures, that may or may not be resolved within the timeframe of the show.

There are seemingly no obstacles in Rick’s way as he simultaneously destroyed both the Galactic Federation and Council of Ricks so he ultimately has no one to answer to. One of the main obstacles in Rick and Morty’s adventures used to be Jerry Smith, Morty’s father, but now with his departure from the show as the new season begins who knows what’s to stop them from getting into crazier and crazier situations. We will also get to see how Summer and Morty deal with their mother and father go through a divorce, although with what they’ve both been through it should be a piece of cake.

Dan Harmon isn’t new to success but in teaming up with Justin Roiland, he continues to create masterpieces that are funny, clever and yet they tackle important questions and really make you think. With the first episode of season three setting the stage for what will seemingly be one of their most adventurous season, the ceiling is the limit which they surely intend to break. Rick and Morty have something for everything and with just one episode you’ll be sure to be hooked, if for some reason you still haven’t watched be sure to tune in and see what they have to teach.

 

 

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13 Reasons why it is more common now for a child to suffer

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In March of this year Netflix released 13 Reasons Why and it took both bingewatchers and child psychologists by storm. Although I must admit that the show was entertaining for me while watching it, I also couldn’t help be intrigued by the very important issue of “this is the world that kids grow up in now.”

Being my age, when I watch sitcoms I tend to imagine to myself, ‘what would it be like growing up at that time?’ Of course there needs to be a mention of advancing technology and things being much more accessible, but this series details an innocent girl’s fall from grace and eventual plot to commit suicide – and its because of bullying, trauma and subtle yet perhaps involuntary slights from her peers – and it shows how the progression of youth overtime is moving towards a very heartbreaking end.

With social media like Facebook now it has become more important to keep an image, not to look bad, and to have friends. For a normal high schooler this may be the case but new social media means that people generally have expectation that they place on themselves which become to big to maintain. Always being able to access/experience (in the case of Snapchat and Instagram)/message friends constantly fosters an unnatural co-dependence to friends to the point that a person might be a wreck whenever they’re alone, almost akin to being dependant on a drug.

Taking into account the hormones that normally are active in kids this age, things like this can be hard to manage and cause emotional outburst, but – and here’s the kicker – they are kept unnoticed and repressed because the teen would not like to tarnish his/her image.

I personally love sitcoms but, due to new technology being available to kids, they are watching them at a younger and younger age. Some kids watch situational comedies and immediately get the impression that that is what life is supposed to be – how would they know what life is actually like at that point – and due to this they may unfortunately demonstrate attitudes portrayed in sitcoms such as, co-dependence, over-dramatization, a variety of or lack of control over emotions, etc. Although this may seem rather cynical these are aspects that are common with many current sitcoms, even crucial to characterisation and plot.

Last but not least, Many current sitcoms revolve a little bit around relationships, sex, and romantic themes. Even movie ratings are more lenient on the topic and it is evident that the sexualisation of youths is an issue in the world today. This all leads to teens experimenting and engaging in intercourse younger which opens doors to rape and sexual abuse by people who do not understand as much. In a world where people care about their image more than most things, people would also want people to know that they are – how to say this – acting mature and emulating characters from TV, which can cause the image of the victim to be ruined.

I personally could talk more about my points on this but I honestly don’t want to write about something that is this depressing. I also don’t want to detail events from the series because of these reasons. I’ve included a link at the bottom which I think is very good and informative about this matter. The one thing I want to end on, is that the series shows how suicide can have an unbelievably bad effect on other people which, even for adults, is hard to cope with.

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/05/05/526871398/facts-about-teens-suicide-and-13-reasons-why

 

Jack Kountouris

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“A Different World” for Sitcoms

A Different World is the spin-off of The Cosby Show, following Lisa Bonet in her role of Denise Huxtable as she attends college at a fictional historic black college, Hillman College. The show, however, morphed into something much more than that. After its first season run in 1987, Lisa Bonet left the show due to her pregnancy and the show had to be re-worked. Additionally, after the first season went on air, it came to the producers’ attention that the series was not accurately portraying a historically black college and life on campus. So, Debbie Allen, an alumna of Howard University, was hired as the chief creative force to revamp the show.

The second season followed students’ lives where the whole point of the show wasn’t about some scandal but instead about black college students growing up. Kadeem Hardison portrayed the male lead, Dwayne Wayne, and once the character of Denise left, he settled into a more balanced and nuanced character. Overall, Dwayne became a character that existed in the real world with his own storylines and motivations. Dwayne was at times the moral center for a positive show about young black men and women figuring out adulthood. A Different World handled social issues head on, often putting Dwayne at the middle of them.

A Different World

Lest we think that a show with a predominantly black cast only dealt with racism, some of the most memorable episodes dealt with other hard to talk about topics. The show directly addresses alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, “The Black Bourgeoisie”, sexuality, abortion, the struggles of post-grad life and false stereotypes about HIV to name a few. While A Different World was a comedy, it was still rooted in the real world and didn’t shy away from the real world challenges for young people making their way in life.

College is about students feeling out their identities and exploring new ways of looking at the world. Those universal dynamics have contours all their own for students at historically black colleges, and A Different World was committed to presenting positive, intersectional representations of this process. We grow to love this diverse main cast over their college years as they shape and refine their black identity. This show was and still is a great addition to black representation in sitcom.

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-Meghan Barber

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Why So Angry?

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While Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys, which only aired for one season on HBO, wasn’t as wildly popular as Summer Heights High, his other effort for the network, the mockumentary provides a hilarious and incisive look at how postmodern globalization can impact even the most remote corners of the world—a rural Australian town, in this case. The basic premise of the show is that two twins, Daniel and Nathan (both played by Lilley), are throwing a going-away party for Nathan, who is deaf and needs to leave their small fictional town of Dunt. Their guest list includes a failing American rapper, a washed-up surfing legend, and a skateboarding prodigy whose mother insists he is gay as a marketing ploy. During the expositions of each of these storylines—most of which intertwine at the going-away party—each character (Lilley also plays the skateboarder’s mother, the rapper, the surfer, and the twins’ grandmother) is imbued with the ridiculousness of their plights. From the beginning of the show, the viewer is led to believe that there is no way this assortment of celebrities will actually attend Daniel’s party, but the internet plays a critical role. The connectedness that occurs is a new phenomenon; the characters themselves seem to hardly be able to grasp how widely available things have become (see: Daniel’s porn addiction and S.Mouse’s shock at being dropped by his label after self-releasing a song called “Grandmother F***er”). As The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston wrote of Lilley:

“He’s like an Aussie Sacha Baron Cohen, taking a sub-species of Homo sapiens and turning it into a ridiculous caricature. Except all of his go into one show. No one gets away – idiot hicks, urban idiots, racists, dim police, the prison service, do-gooding liberals, rappers, the music industry, everyone’s worth a pop. It’s beautifully observed, extraordinarily executed; Lilley has an eye for a look and an ear for a line, all timed to perfection.”

The humor Lilley employs is certainly not politically correct, but it is equally offensive amongst all demographics, and not in the normal fragmented mockumentary way. It uses postmodern society as a vehicle through which these separate storylines can weave together, highlighting each of their absurdities even more. In a world of comment sections and video blogs, no one is safe from the inundation of pop culture, celebrity, and all of the idiocy that comes with it—not even two insensitive twins in a rural Australian town.

ARTICLE

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2011/jun/07/angry-boys-poor-kids-review

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Where is Bryan Cranston’s Emmy for Malcolm in the Middle?

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Hal drinking Rum out of a lotion bottle he snuck into an amusement park. Still from Malcolm In the Middle, “Waterpark” (Season 1, Episode 16, 2000.)

Actor Bryan Cranston gained much success through the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad and since the ending of the show he has become a high profile actor. Although Breaking Bad received much acclaim and is even considered one of the greatest shows of all time, Cranston’s role as the offbeat father Hal in Malcolm in the Middle is often overlooked, perhaps due to the show being a comedy rather than a drama.

Although Malcolm in the Middle ran for seven years and was a critical success, the show was never reached immense commercial success. While all the characters certainly contributed to the show’s recognition, Cranston’s performance of Hal should be considered the breakout role of the show. The sitcom’s plot often relied on Hal’s crazy antics, and the actor’s energy and ridiculousness made him stand out, as the other characters on the show were unable to match Cranston’s amusing performance.

Hal often provided the comic relief of the show, with notable instances including quitting his job and turning the garage into an art studio, entering a Dance Dance Revolution Contest, and spending an enormous amount of time and dedication in teaching his son Malcolm to roller-skate. While the mother of the family, Louis, was stern and able to control of the house, Hal on the other, was chaotic, absent minded, and absurd.

A large shift from the traditional family sitcom which emphasized unity and conformity and the father served as a voice of reason and wisdom, Malcolm in the Middle revolved around a dysfunctional working class family, struggling to raise their trouble-maker children, who terrorized anyone they can. Although the family is well-aware that they are disliked by their entire neighborhood, they could not care less, especially Hal, who often does things to intentionally bother his neighbors.

Even though Cranston would go on to win four Emmy’s and a Golden Globe for the role of Walter White, producers were reluctant to cast him at first due to his performance in Malcolm in the Middle, being that it was entirely comedic.

Just because the show may not be as dark and serious as Breaking Bad, it did touch on important issues, such as being stigmatized due to class, the difficulties of being a socially outcasted, being financially insecure, and even providing a glimpse on the hardships of physical disabilities, as Schultz discusses in his chapter in the Sitcom Reader.

While Cranston’s role as Hal earned him just one Golden Globe and Emmy nomination, I think this role showed true comedic genius and is extremely underrated, as it helped launch the actor to stardom. At least some people seem to agree that Cranston’s performance as Hal was comic gold, and have even made mashups of the two series. ***WARNING: video contains spoiler content for Breaking Bad***

 

Delaney Broderick

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Why nothing will ever compare to Tina Fey’s 30 Rock

30 Rock is a rare gem among sitcoms. It never did seem to fit in, and from a ratings standpoint, it only grabbed the attention of a very niche group of people. Despite this, the show captured around 145 nominations for different awards during its seven season run. Not only did its formula and content completely change the game for the television landscape with its 2006 debut, but its success paved the way for other female writer/actors like Tina Fey to grab their fair share of the industry.

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Image courtesy of IMDB.com

30 Rock rejected any greater moral message in favor of smart, fast-paced, unrelenting humor. Though it is technically a workplace humor, the shenanigans that pervade this series far surpass any typical of The Office or Parks and Recreation. The chaos combined with an SNL-esque comedic form makes 30 Rock the kind of show you can’t afford to zone out of even for a second, lest you miss the ridiculous (albeit worth it) punchline. Creator and showrunner Tina Fey herself said that “[30 Rock] requires you to pay attention in a way that you don’t always want to at the end of a long day, and I get that. I’m a professional comedy worker, and there would be days when I’m like, ‘I love Arrested Development, but I don’t want to watch it right now.”

What Tina Fey describes is different even from a satirical sitcom that necessitates intense concentration to understand the cultural critique; 30 Rock requires this attentiveness to merely understand this week’s plot flow. This is part of the reason that the small group of loyal fans were so deeply enthralled – liking this series felt like it by nature elevated and sophisticated your comedic intrigue, as well as your language processing skills. No other TV sitcom during the 30 Rock era (and, I would argue, in today’s television lineup) was so deeply committed to the delivery of jokes alone. 30 Rock was the Seinfeld for today’s generation, just without the populist appeal.

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Image courtesy of NBC

Tina Fey’s success with 30 Rock, although at times an uphill battle, certainly allowed for the success of shows like Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project, Lena Dunham’s Girls, and Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City. The mere existence of Tina Fey should devastatingly reject the myth that girls can’t be funny, and the shows that followed in the footsteps of 30 Rock are proving how truly valuable the female voice is in comedy today.

Alyssa McAuliffe

 

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Breaking Stereotypes

 

 

640px-Glee_-_Single_Ladies_cropped            So much of the world revolves around groups. Who you have common interests with, who lives relatively close to you. If you look deeper into these groups, it can be broken down even further. The people that live close to you usually come from similar financial situations. Social groups can be created from religious views, race, gender, and even further.

            Glee is a sitcom that addresses these social groups head on, portraying kids that are stepping outside of their usual circles, coming from many different backgrounds. Rich kids. Poor kids. Jewish kids. Athletic kids. Smart kids. Gay kids. Straight kids.

The diverse population of the Glee club contributes greatly to the club’s success. Everybody brings another talent to the table, whether it be choreographing, being able to hit a high note, or simply being able to attract more members from friends they may have from other interests.

The ability to portray all of these different types of people through one television show, while also including different songs, with an element of humor is important to television.  Glee  makes it clear that people, no matter how different they may be, are welcome and can find friends in the most unlikely places.

In addition, these people do not only make friends, but they find success, but not without also finding failures. The glee club lost at Nationals only to come back the next year to win Nationals. The football team only won one game, but then going on to win the state championship in the future. Main character, Rachel Berry, got into her dream school NYADA after blowing her first audition.

Glee was a successful sitcom because of the way that it broke the stereotypes of portraying white upper class families like many other sitcoms that succeed in everything that they attempt. Glee is a group of misfits, with disabilities and things that would be assumed to set them back, that succeed, but only not without experiencing failures on the way.

 

Jane Schaefer

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