By Wendy Smith
March 06, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Honey, I'm Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream

B+
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  • Book
Genre

Combining a shrewd industrial history of radio and TV with cogent analyses of shows from Amos ‘n’ Andy to Seinfeld, Jones (coauthor of The Beaver Papers) examines in Honey, I’m Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream, the sitcom as a reflection of changing public perceptions about the family and society. He argues that 1950s domestic comedies were grounded in a broad social consensus — everyone gets what they want before the final commercial — which broke down in the late ’60s. As a result, programs as different as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family emerged and tried to express the previously taboo experiences of alienation and anxiety. The retooled sitcom of the ’80s acknowledged divorce and racial divisions only to assure viewers that ”we will be happier than ever before.” Jones admits that recent hits such as Married…With Children, Roseanne, and The Simpsons don’t really fit his thesis, but he doesn’t spend enough time considering the implications of their success. Even so, his sharp, critical approach offers a welcome antidote to warm and fuzzy nostalgia. B+

Honey, I'm Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream

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