Posts Tagged ‘The Jeffersons

13
Aug
22

Introduction to the Sitcom Section of Redactions Issue 27: A Rough Draft

Welcome Back, Kotter

Below is a draft for the introduction of the sitcom-themed section of Redactions issue 27, which is due out in early summer 2023. I am posting it here to give people a better sense of what I am looking for in submissions for the sitcom issue. I hope you enjoy it, and if you are submitting, I hope it helps provide directions for my expectations.

For submission information, please visit: Redactions: Poetry & Poetics: Submissions and Ordering.

//

Many of us grew up watching sitcoms. For some, it was a family bonding experience. For me, that was about the only time our family got along and were quiet. Also, for me, having returned to America from England midway through second grade, a sitcom allowed me to have something to talk about with fellow students in an attempt to make new friends.

Sitcoms are still a way to interact with others. Who hasn’t bonded with someone or someones by singing the theme song to The Brady Bunch, Cheers, or Gilligan’s Island? (According to critics the Gilligan’s Island theme song is the best theme song because it is catchy and because it informs the viewers of the situation and the characters they will soon encounter. It informs the viewers of the show’s premise.) For me, sitcoms were also a learning experience. My parents were quite distant, and I hated reading, but sitcoms taught me. The Fonz from Happy Days taught me ethics. Yes, the Fonz had a code. One Day at a Time and Alice taught me about the increasingly frequent situation of a single mother raising children. (Julia, however, was the first to cover this topic from 1968 to 1971, but I was unable to watch that show.) Welcome Back Kotter exposed me to a neighborhood of diverse students that I was unfamiliar with. Good Times showed me the life of a struggling black family, and The Jeffersons celebrated a wealthy black family and the mother (Louise “Weezy” Jefferson) who was uncomfortable with her wealth.

Sitcoms, especially in the early seasons of their run, tried to explore issues of the day. For instance, The Brady Bunch in season one tried to explore an increasingly common experience of two formerly married people with children remarrying, and the issues that arise when two families combine. After season one, the show slowly became ridiculous and a little absurd. All in the Family explored many topics, especially racism via Archie Bunker. Archie, though compassionate, would argue about many topics with his liberal son-in-law, Meathead. I usually thought Meathead won the arguments, but I had my doubts when he left Gloria for another woman. Archie and Meathead were so contentious that they even argued about how to put on socks and shoes. Kate and Allie proposed a new definition of what constitutes a family. Who’s the Boss challenged gender roles in adults as it presented the idea that a man could perform “woman” chores without the stigma of castration being present, and it presented gender fluidity in children. And The Golden Girls and Valerie (later Valerie’s Family and then The Hogan Family) addressed AIDS in unique ways that undermined the bigoted idea that AIDS could only be transferred via gay sex or drug addicts. All of this was important because sitcoms reached a large audience of people who were uninformed on these issues. As a result, the sitcom with its huge audiences had huge responsibilities. Sitcoms became an active learning experience. Sitcoms attempted to teach serious topics through a comedic approach, and I, like many others, was an avid student ready to learn without having to read.

No place was this more evident than in M*A*S*H. Robert Frost once said about the poem, “If it is with outer seriousness, it must be with inner humor. If it is with outer humor, it must be with inner seriousness. Neither one alone with the other under it will do.” I didn’t know this at the time, but I intuited this about M*A*S*H. Rather, I was shocked. I thought a sitcom was just supposed to be funny, but M*A*S*H was humorous on the outside and serious on the inside. This, in a sense, means sitcoms are more than just ha ha laughs. Sitcoms can be used to explore serious issues that one might not otherwise encounter, especially for me as a non-reader for about the first 19 years of my life. Sitcoms are tools that help the viewer explore . . .  at least in the early seasons, as noted above. Eventually, most sitcoms will jump the shark. Initially, however, they have serious goals: “If we happen to laugh hysterically along the way, all the better because humor has always been a successful way to look at our differences and find our commonality” (Robinson, 99). This is what I hoped this section would explore.

I find it challenging to write about a sitcom. One reason is that a sitcom seems so antithetical to poetry, and perhaps it is. However, many poets of my age have ingested sitcoms, and those television shows are part of them like real memories. The nostalgia plus the antithetical spirit creates the difficulty of writing a sitcom poem with integrity. M*A*S*H is important to me, but I can’t yet find a way to bring it or its characters into a poem. This might be true of all subjects, but tv and poetry have historically been judged at opposing ends. In this issue of Redactions, I hope the ends will meet. I hope when reading these poems, you will find humor outside and seriousness inside, or even seriousness outside and humor inside. Perhaps a bit of both. //

//

//

//

Works Cited

Robinson, Mark A. Sitcommentary: Television Comedies that Changed America. Rowan & Littlefield, 2019.

//

The Brady Bunch – Marcia

//

Bewitched

//

Taxi

//




The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Material Matters

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Line Break and receive email notifications of new posts.

Join 3,113 other followers
October 2022
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

The Line Break Tweets


%d bloggers like this: