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Television: 50s - 90s
Transcript of Television: 50s - 90s
The Fabulous Fifties
Very calm, within limits
Did not want to offend anyone
Focus on happy families with proper gender roles expected for that time
"Father Knows Best"
"I Love Lucy"
"Leave it to Beaver"
Programs did not even show married couples together in the same bed
Women dressed well and did housework
The Super Sixties
Kennedy won the presidency and Johnson took over when he was assassinated
The Vietnam War was raging
The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing
Hippies began to break free of society
The Extraordinary Eighties
News on television became increasingly global
People all across the world wanted to know what was happening as soon as possible
In the early 1980s, Ted Turner risked everything to focus on the success of his TV station, CNN. 2 years afterward, the 1st CNN Headline News aired.
In 1987, CNN was the only network broadcasting live coverage of the tragic NASA Challenger space shuttle launch and crash
Shows how CNN was taking hold of the news on TV
News on television was also breaking oceanic barriers, as millions watched Prince Charles marry Lady Diana in Great Britain. Also, when someone attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, TV was able to bring the news vividly to households all across America.
The Sensational Seventies
Starting in the early 1970s, it was found by a Roper poll that people were relying on TV more than the newspaper for news
Americans began heavily relying on TV programs for the latest news
Television was a powerful force in the 1970s, and the U.S. Government was slowly realizing this
Many networks had to fight for their independence from government influence.
The Noteworthy Nineties
reached its height of popularity in 1997, when DeGeneres made her homosexuality public on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Then her character on the sitcom came out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey, revealing that she's gay. The coming-out episode was one of the highest-rated of the show. The series returned for a 5th season, but experienced lower ratings due to ABC's cutting back on promoting the show. It was believed that The Walt Disney Company, ABC's parent owner, had become uncomfortable with the subject matter depicted on the show now that DeGeneres' character was openly gay. In May 1998,
Amanda Parel, Brianna Russ, Nick Fadell, Tony Dagher
Father Knows Best
Leave it to Beaver
Southerners were shown as simple and rustic
TV was extremely influential at this time
Everyone was afraid of communism in the 50s
Shows had to be plain and stereotypical in order to not promote communism and instead promote conformity
Any shows with crude humor or anything outside conformist ideals was usually failed
1952 - Citizen's Television Code: 12 point code saying what would be allowed to be broadcast on TV
Even some children's shows were disputed for having "too short" dresses or "juvenile delinquency"
Biggest genre: family comedies for families to enjoy together
Other genre was music shows
"The Ed Sullivan Show"
Basically showed Americans how to live their conformist lives and what was cool and acceptable
Nielsen ratings - mostly highly ranked shows of the 50s
"I Love Lucy"
"You Bet Your Life"
"I Love Lucy" was #1 from '52 to when it closed in '57, #3 in '51 when it first came out
Most popular show of the decade
"You Bet Your Life" hit the Nielsen Ratings 8 out of 10 years in the 50s
"Dragnet" hit the charts 5 years in a row
Other Important Events
Finale was a major media event. The cast was featured on just about every single magazine and newspaper cover, and it made national news
Probably the one of the most talked about series finales in television history
1994 Winter Olympics
1992 Summer Olympics Triple-Cast
3 different Olympic sports, broadcast at the same time by dividing the screen into sections and playing a different event in each section, without sound
And Other Big News...
The OJ Simpson Trial
Women are prominent TV icons: girl power
"Xena: Warrior Princess"
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Rise of Teen Dramas
"My So-Called Life"
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - cliques, first love, disapproving adults
The Technology of TV
The "Golden Age" of Television
By the end of 1951 and there are more than 8,000,000 TVs in the United States.
Remote Control is invented
The “soap opera” is named for the cleaning products sponsoring daytime dramas targeting women
Family meals will never be the same with the introduction of the TV dinner.
By the end of the decade, a 21-inch black and white set was about $200 and the average 21-inch color set was almost $500.
Top Shows: Nielsen Ratings
More risqué, annoying the Federal Communications Commission and spawning some of the most loved shows of all time including “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “Twin Peaks” and “The Simpsons.”
Cable TV boom with shows like “The Sopranos” on HBO; these series were exempt from standard FCC regulations and frequently depicted scenes with graphic violence, sex, and foul language.
TVs now include additional features like sleep timers and parental controls.
Significance of the TV
It was able to broadcast all of these events, thus exposing them to the American people around the country
Civil Rights Movement events were broadcasted
Kennedy-Nixon Debates were broadcasted on TV
Tet Offensive and other Vietnam conditions were exposed.
Total of 4 debates broadcasted on TV
Allowed for politics and TV to intermingle
Gives the American people more access to the beliefs of the candidates
Allows for appearance to become a part of politics
JFK was more attractive, and thus attracted more people to his campaign
TV Show Characteristics
Several different genres started to flourish during this time
Most TV programs were escapist
There was a huge increase in the number of genres
Game shows, historical dramas, animation, beginning of “reality” shows, animal shows, dramas, soap operas, etc
Extremely popular during this time
What do these represent in American society?
Comedies, Animations, and Reality TV Shows
Comedies were very prevalent during the 1960s.
The Andy Griffith Show
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
What would the American people be trying to ‘escape’ through comedies?
Tom and Jerry
Who would watch these shows?
Just starting up during this time
The Price is Right
Anyone sensing a common theme?
Why would this show be popular during this time period?
After the assassination of President Kennedy, families gathered to watch the news depicting a changing social climate and growing hostility towards the government. Americans began to get more news from the television than the newspaper.
Space Race: Everyone gathered to watch shuttle launches and moon landings
About 75 million people watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show
Vietnam War is the first televised conflict
Doctors legally advertised cigarettes
By the end of the decade there were approximately 78 million television sets in homes across the United States
As for TV entertainment, rural and western shows such as "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres" were being canceled and replaced with more "sophisticated" shows
Many longstanding shows were canceled, such as the Ed Sullivan show
As American society changed, so did the fiction shows
Americans began to see people like themselves in popular shows of the time
Shows with single moms, abortion and women's rights, and ghettos
Producers like Norman Lear created shows like "All in the Family," exposing many political issues like racism that programs before dared not discuss
Also, many reality TV shows came with the era of the 1970s, along with several series and miniseries
Crime shows, game shows, soap operas, and science fiction all became more and more popular
After the success of the TV movie "Duel," more and more movies were being made for the purpose of being aired on television
Nighttime broadcasts broke the traditional molds. Couples were now sleeping in the same beds and actresses could show their belly buttons.
Average salary was $7,500 a year and the average price for a TV was between $400 and $700 dollars.
1978 was the last year large Black and White consoles were manufactured.
"The Brady Bunch" - this show aired from 1969 - 1974 and tells the story of the daily lives of the Brady family, a blended family consisting of children from both parents separately
"All in the Family" - this show aired from 1971 -1979 and portrayed a working class white man named Archie Bunker with his children, who grew up in the Bronx. He was very openly racist and conservative, and his son-in-law, whom he lives with, was a very strong liberal. The contrast between their beliefs formed the comedy that dominated television in the early 70s.
"Adam-12" - this show portrayed the patrol lives of two police officers during the early 70s. In the show, the 2 officers drive a patrol unit called 1-Adam-12 and patrol streets in Southern California. They deal with everything from traffic violations (GASP) to murder and suicide
Also, Sesame Street makes its debut. Even after 40 years it is still successful today.
But they still haven't told us how to get, how to get to Sesame Street
Due to the success of cable networks in the 70s, the 80s witnessed a boom in the cable industry
Several cable TV channels were launched, like the Discovery Channel and Lifetime Television
At the beginning, new, significant sitcoms were rare
70s sitcoms died in the 80s, but dramas carried over relatively well
Shift in theme occurs
After a decade of TV exposing issues (Vietnam War, women's rights), the public wanted something to escape their problems
Watch drama shows about the lives of the rich
DRAMA and Comedies
"Dynasty" and "Dallas"
"Dallas" - aired from 1978 - 1991, and tells about the life of a rich family that lived in Dallas, TX and makes their money off of oil and cattle ranching
Police drama continues to be popular
"Simon and Simon"
More and more shows contained black stars in the 1980s, the most famous being the "Bill Cosby Show"
Aired from 1984 - 1992, and tells about the life of the Huxtable family, a relatively wealthy African American family living in Brooklyn
Brought comedies back into favor; for example, "Family Ties" starring Michael J. Fox and "The Golden Girls"
The VCR became a staple in the American home in the mid 1980s. Now people could watch movies in the comfort of their own home and record and watch their favorite programs on their own timetable.
Side Note: Only 90's Kids Remember the 90s
Kallen, Stuart A. The 1950s. San Diego, CA: Lucent, 1999. Print.
Kallen, Stuart A. The 1980s. San Diego, CA: Lucent, 1999. Print.