The representation of various population groups by American television writers is significantly affected by the latter’s perceptions disconnected from the truth. Moreover, the situation is complicated by the fact that most actors in their shows are white, and they cannot effectively transmit the culture of their characters depending on their race (Oguss, 2005). This discrepancy evokes concerns of the members of those ethnic communities, whose roles they are attempting to play, and adversely influences the stereotypes of the audience as a whole. Therefore, to allow people watching sitcoms to form a proper view of the world, it is critical to ensure the correspondence of their creators’ vision to reality.
It is clear that TV shows narrating about the life of citizens from different backgrounds are made for entertainment, but they still have an impact on their viewers’ association with other members of society. Confirming this stance, most screenwriters and producers tend to present the scenes in such a way that the audience feels like the actors are directly communicating with them (Newcomb, 1977). This impression is strengthened by the frequent neglect of their names since they are sometimes not as obviously mentioned as the ones of the authors of books (Newcomb, 1977). In this way, the public might more willingly ascribe the opinions in literary works to their creators, whereas the events in sitcoms appear to be objective and seemingly anonymous. From this perspective, it is necessary to cautiously approach episodes with characters of different races.
Another aspect of the issue essential for the appropriate reaction of people to sitcoms is the absence of actors of specific ethnicities. Meanwhile, they should be in the center of the stories and thereby make them more realistic. This practice distorts the portrayal of the life of the present-day communities (Oguss, 2005). Indeed, it is impossible to imagine a setting, whether it is a work environment or a local neighborhood, where one meets only white people. Therefore, mixed emotions of Latino or Black viewers are reasonable, because their counterparts are either ignored by TV shows or presented in an inaccurate manner.
This kind of conflicted reception can be viewed through analyzing the examples from well-known sitcoms. One of them is “All in the Family – Archie Bunker Meets Sammy Davis,” and the inclusion of a black man is its benefit. However, it is contrasted by white people laughing at him and the growing confusion of the situation (Barone, 2020). Another scene adding to the problem is from “Good Times,” and its importance is conditional upon the unwillingness of the family to accept help from anyone but the people of their race (Classic TV Rewind, 2020).
It contributes to the lack of connection and their perceived disadvantaged position in society, as well as the episodes from “M*A*S*H” with only white people and “Chico and The Man” criticizing the Latino character’s decisions (Kamm, 2020; Rick A, 2020). All these shows were controversial due to the same reason: they either focus on white people while neglecting other ethnicities or depict the latter in an unfavorable light.
In conclusion, the particular attention devoted to popular sitcoms in the racial context is explained by the way they create the public representation of different population groups. As can be seen from the examples above, their scenes contribute to the growing misunderstanding between them by emphasizing the inappropriate attitudes and evoking criticism. Thus, the TV shows with the participation of real representatives of the communities, whose life they demonstrate, would reflect reality, which is essential for cooperation in society.
Barone, F. (2020). All in the family – Archie Bunker meets Sammy Davis [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Classic TV Rewind. (2020). How will The Evans pay for rent | Good times [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Kamm, M. (2020). M*A*S*H S02E09 – Dear dad… three [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Newcomb, H. (1977). The television artistry of Norman Lear. Prospects, 2, 109-125. Web.
Oguss, G. (2005). “Whose barrio is it?” Chico and the Man and the integrated ghetto shows of the 1970s. Television & New Media, 6(1), 3-21. Web.
Rick A. (2020). Chico and The Man episode Ms. Liz starring Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson S2 E7 Lynn Roth [Video]. YouTube. Web.