Getting ready to do another bunch of threads on the sorry state of the network fall schedule, and ran across American Dreams
A while back, I realized why this show (or at least the promos, which is all I can bring myself to watch of it) seemed hauntingly familiar.
It’s a mawkish family drama about a period 35-40 years ago.
But wait! In the 1970s, we ALSO had a maudlin family drama about a period 35-40 years before that… The Waltons.
So apparently, 35-40 years is the time frame in which we feel a need, in our fictional depiction of it, to frame a time period in “family values”. And we make a show about it roughly every thirty years.
In a simlar pattern, we have a sitcom,begun in the 1990s, That 70’s Show, which reflects humorously on a time 20-25 years earlier.
So every twenty years or so, we do a sitcom or two about the time two decades earlier.
Is this a real pattern? All these shows were/are hits, or at least long running (even though some of us who watched them then now wonder why). Have we discovered the secret to historical TV success?
Older Dopers, was there a successful saccharine family drama in the late 1940s (or perhaps a radio show before 1948?) about a family struggling through the 1900s? Or a sitcom from the 1950s about the 1930s?
Did That 80’s Show fail, not because it sucked (watched MASH or Happy Days recently?), but because it failed to follow the pattern?
And what does this mean for the future? In the 20-teens, will we have the “Dot-Comedy!”, a sitcom about the 1990s? Only to have the 2030’s give us the saccharine story of a family struggling to cope with the Internet Age?