Its soapbox time again! This is a tough subject; in fact I originally discarded this idea because I was afraid of offending people. But then I decided that it’s something I really wanted to address. As always, this is all my opinion and all comments are welcome. I mean no offense to anyone. For the purpose of this discussion I am only talking about sitcoms.

 

What I wanted to discuss today is a certain reason some people hate some shows. Some people assume that a show is meant to accurately portray a specific group or culture, and if they feel it doesn’t match up with their view they are up in arms about it!  I mean folks, sitcoms are not documentaries. They’re sitcoms! It doesn’t have to be an “accurate” portrayal. Now don’t misunderstand me, and I want to make this clear, if you hate a show that’s fine. I have hated lots of shows in my time. But I never hated a show because I felt it was portraying me or my group (whether it be ethnic or social) in a certain context. I hate a show because the writing sucks or it’s a premise I just can’t get into. Even the shows that do get a little more controversial, like All in the Family, are still just TV shows.  But some shows get lots of heat that is really unfair. In fact some people will go so far as to hate people who like the shows, and that is beyond wrong.

 

Let me try to clarify my point with a few examples and my arguments against these complaints. I am not saying that you can’t hate these shows, just that the reasons for hating them that I discuss below seem a bit, Idon’t know, silly. Of course there are shows which go out of their way to be offensive, and that’s one thing. But what about the shows that don’t intend to be offensive and yet people are up in arms anyway? Here are some examples:

The Cosby Show-when this show came on many people said that it was an inaccurate depiction of African American families. Um, why exactly? There aren’t African American families out there who are successful upper middle class? Up until that point the stereotype for an African American family on TV was to be poor. We had Sanford & Son,Good Times, and so on. This show changed that, and some people didn’t want to accept that African American families are no different than any other family.That was the genius of the show. And even if you can make the case that The Cosby Show is a bit of an exaggeration, so what?? I don’t watch The Cosby Show for a tough look at family problems. I watch it for a few laughs and to forgetabout my own troubles for a half hour.

 

Roseanne-How dare they show a family on TV having real problems! As hard as it may be to believe, this show was highly controversial when it first premiered. People did not respond to Roseanne’s view of a blue collar family. Two working parents, a sarcastic mother, and people were enraged at the episode where she killed her kids (it was a fantasy episode, and what parent hasn’t wished her kids would go away once in a while?)  This show really changed the stereotype of the sitcom mother, who didn’t have to work and was always smiling happily. I admit I didn’t embrace this show right away but soon I did and realized it was pretty funny and well written. I have known people similar to the Connors, but does that mean this show represents EVERY blue collar family in the country? I don’t think so. Then Roseanne pushed the envelope further by having (gasp!) gay characters in her show among other things.
Will & Grace-A lot of people say that this show did not accurately portray gay people. Especially Jack who was a big stereotype. Here is something they forget, that was the whole point! Jack was supposed to portray the stereotype and Will the way most gay men are which is the same as any other person. I will concede that as the show progressed they kind of got away from that a bit. But the cool thing is this is the first show ever to have an openly gay person as a lead character right from the start. Rather than applaud the show for how it portrayed gay people, it gets hated by some. I have known gay and lesbian people, and they did not act like gay people are portrayed in the show. Know why? IT’S A TV SHOW!
The Seinfeld/Friends Double Standard-This is a sensitive one but it really bugs me. Many people hate these shows because the main cast happen to be the stereotypical all white cast. Soooo?? What group of friends ever worries that they’re not culturally diverse? I know I never sat around with friends and said “oh my god, we’re all white!” Now if you are part of an ethnically diverse group, great. But why would I hate these shows because the cast happened to all be the same race? I didn’t love The Cosby Show because it was a black family but because it was funny!  Now if we were talking about a work place comedy, that’s another story. But a show about a couple friends hanging out? Please. Just because the cast is all white doesn’t somehow make it offensive to other races! It’s a double standard if it’s okay to have a show that is a primarily African American cast but not ok to have a show that is an all-white cast. And besides, what does the race of the characters have to do with how funny or well written the show is!!
The Big Bang Theory-Here is the big one. This show and its fans have gotten a lot of heat because of the way it portrays the nerd stereotype. I love this show; let me state that outright, because it’s funny as hell. But even if I hated it I do not think the show portrays nerds generally in any way. It portrays these four characters in a certain way! What makes people think that the four male cast members are meant to reflect EVERY nerd in the world? And by the way, Sheldon is an extreme example. Saying Sheldon represents all nerds is like saying Dan Fielding from Night Court represents all men in the world. But in my opinion, I like the way the characters are portrayed. Honestly I think that the show has done more to help nerd culture than hurt it. The worst part is that while I love the show I will not look down on people for not liking it. Why can’t be people do the opposite? A few weeks ago an episode promo showed the ladies entering a comic book store and the tag “the ladies are going where no women have gone before”! Obvious a reference to the classic Star Trek line but people were upset because women do go into comic book stores in the real world and even work in some I have been in. But really, it was just a joke not social commentary! True some of the jokes get silly, like how the men know nothing about pop culture and stuff. But why do people think by making those four characters like that it’s the show’s way of saying ALL nerd culture is like that?
Yes I am leaving out many other stereotypes including women and Asians but I am running long.  The thing that’s important to remember is that TV characters,like real people, are not going to be exactly like you. It would be boring if they were and its plain not fair to expect them to be. Some hate The Brady Bunch because it’s a perfect family; others hate Roseanne or Married…withChildren because they are such horrible people. Meanwhile there are those that adore those same shows! Thankfully we have the freedom of choice. It seems so simple, don’t like it, turn the channel. Simple as that.But for some reason certain individuals or groups can’t just leave it at that, and have to be up in arms about it!
There have been examples of someone or group hating a show so much they literally affect it! Married..With Children had an episode that never aired because a woman in Michigan was offended by content (you can find it on DVD). Seinfeld only aired “The Puerto Rican Day Parade” once because a conservative group cried that the show was offensive (it wasn’t). When Ellen Degeneres came out in “The Puppy Episode” advertisers boycotted the episode while religious groups were up in arms. It was even reported that Ellen got death threats and was stalked! I mean, really?  How does her coming out affect you in anyway, just don’t watch the bloody show! The good news there is the episode did air, but the network ended up canceling the series. By the way, that episode was hilarious! And that is just three examples, I am sure I can come up withmore. These people and/or hate groups are just out for attention as far as I am concerned, I have always believed that. Take PETA for example. They took creditfor NBC’s Animal Practice getting canceled. Now that is wrong, no one group hasany right to dictate what everyone else should be allowed to watch. And it was cancelled due to low ratings by the way not the angry actions of that hate group who live in their own world.
It’s a big world and all ideas and opinions should be welcome. But for some, just expressing their opinion is just not enough. JUST BECAUSE YOU FIND IT OFFENSIVE DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CENSOR IT!  Of course if you don’t like it you are free to express that opinion, but to assume it should offend everyone just because you don’t like it is flat wrong. For instance, I hate South Park. I find it crude,crass, and just not funny. But I accept that I am in the minority on that and do not raise my fists to the heavens yelling “why do people like this horrible show!! I must form a petition to get it off the air!” I just don’t watch. Simple as that.
Ok soapbox time is over; I think I have said all I had to say. Please feel free to agree or disagree. Special thanks by the way to James for allowing me to borrow his “Stop The Hate” title.
Final note, once again my timing sucks as Rowdy Chris Moore on TV Trash kind of broached this very subject. I swear I am not ripping him off. Check out his video if you haven’t yet on TV Shows that got screwed over, it’s an interesting list and I agree with his comments at the end regarding One Million Moms.

By James

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