After watching Gomer Pyle USMC, it comes up quite a lot that Gomer should’ve been in Vietnam and that that war was never mentioned in the series.
So it got me to thinking, were there any other sitcoms in the 60s that mentioned the Vietnam War. I realize sitcoms didn’t really deal with topical things till All In The Family (or maybe they did and I’m not aware).
I don’t recall any references to Vietnam or draft deferments for college age sitcom kids from 60s sitcoms.
I mean the Beverly Hillbillies played around with Jethro joining the service, but nothing really came of it. I recall Robbie being in the reserves on My Three Sons, but no mention of Chip, who was in college. In Petticoat Junction, Steve was a discharged airman but no mention of Vietnam in the show.
The only reference I can think of off hand is on the Munsters. Herman tries out for the Dodgers baseball team but everytime he plays he is so big he wrecks the field. After surveying the damage to the baseball field, after watching Herman practice, Leo Durocher says “Well maybe we can send him to Vietnam.”
So does anyone recall a sitcom making reference to Vietnam. For the purpose of this thread I am thinking sitcoms, as opposed to variety shows like Laugh-In or Smothers Brothers which are funny but aren’t sitcoms. Of course those two examples made plenty of Vietnam references. Maybe that’s why the sitcoms could be silent on the issue?
A vague reference in The Beverly Hillbillies: Jethro joins a group of hippies on a college campus (one of them played by a pre-Meathead Rob Reiner). He gets mad at Jed for not giving them money (or some such) and starts to yell slogans at him- “back off whitey” (which Reiner tells him is the “wrong one”) and various others including “make love not war” and “do not enter the induction center” (again being told “that’s not right either”). About as close as they came (which is a pity because Granny would have loved to go scrap with Uncle Ho).
I remember some reference on The Monkees to McNamara, because I caught it at when the Monkees were on reruns in the early 90s and I was taking a Vietnam class, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I know that Nesmith imitated his fellow Texan LBJ a couple of times so it’s possible that had some references.
IIRC, there was an I Dream of Jeannie episode where one of the main (non-powered) characters gains magical abilities, and muses about using them to “end the war,” only for Jeannie to claim that “another one would just start up, somewhere else.” (I assume she was citing some form of magical panglossianism law, and not simply using shrewd geopolitical insight).
In either case, Dr. Manhattan would probably disagree.
I recall that I Dream Of Jeannie episode. Jeannie also says if you take water from one place another place will dry up, seemingly to imply that her powers are more of a transference of existing materials rather than conjuring them up out of thin air.
Now that I think about this perhaps it isn’t the Vietnam War in particular but any war. So to expand on the theme, do sitcoms in general mention wars? Obviously All In The Family did this but let’s expand my definition to include all sitcoms in the period Vietnam was being fought, till Siagon’s fall.
Obviously that would bring MASH* into it as an allegory.
I was just thinking I recall during the first Iraq War both Major Dad and Designing Women (Charlene’s husband was in the Air Force) addressed the issue of their cast memebers going to war or at least acknowledge it.
I know sitcoms like the Simpsons have addressed this second Iraq war, in a round about way using satire and subtly. So I thought it would be interesting to see if the 60s sitcoms ignored Vietnam or was it not ignoring it but rather, sitcoms just didn’t want to bother with any war period
IIRC in “Growing up Brady,” Barry Williams says that she was divorced. They mentioned in the series that Mike had been widowed BUT never said what happened to Carol’s husband. Back in the day divorce was too hot a topic so they left it for the viewer to infer.
Apparently Carol’s ex- had no visitation rights, or at least never exercised them, while the camera was rolling. The girls never mention him etc. The book also said that Robert Reed was originally “into” the series because he saw the opportunity for exploring more serious stuff (like the kids’ adjustment) but they turned the show into a cream puff, which pissed him off to no end and he argued with the powers that be, to little avail. There is at least one episode at the end of the series where Mike_simply_does_not_appear.
ETA: Being a child of that era, and not being interested in the TV news, I don’t remember “Growing up during the Viet Nam conflict”—i.e. very little of it invaded my space, which is what the OP is driving at, I think. At school? Wasn’t mentioned. I had a couple older brothers in the service, so you’d think I would remember that there was a heinous war going on. But nah, I got nothing.
There were a few references in the Monkees. I can remember a couple (probably from reruns.) In one, one of the Monkees knocks over a bunch of set-up dominos and says something like, “that’s South East Asia.” Get it, Domino Theory, haha.
Remember how they would have a little time after an episodes story would end? One was a pastiche of all of them discussing events. I think it was Micky who said something like, “and a fourteen year old kid at a protest got his skull cracked by a cop. That isn’t right, man.”
In one episode of the Brady Bunch, while reading the paper, Mike makes a brief wisecrack about college protests, which is a very veiled reference to the war. I don’t remember if that episode was broadcast in the sixties or the seventies, though.
I wouldn’t call Laugh In or The Smothers Brothers sitcoms. The former was a sketch comedy show, the latter a variety show.
The Smothers Brothers** was pretty edgy for its time, though modern viewers wouldn’t see the big deal. IIRC, they did reference Vietnam, though in a kind of oblique, roundabout way.