An article in this week’s issue of Newsweek claims that “TV today has lost almost all its taste for social commentary” — meaning network TV, of course.
Well, I guess that’s true. The only show I can think of that comes close right now is Studio 60, but only when it’s not being preachy. I guess Ugly Betty tries to offer up something once in a while, but it’s usually coated with clichÃƒÂ©s. What else is there? I mean, Grey’s Anatomy? Right: the moral of the story is always that you don’t have to worry your pretty little head about finding fulfillment at your McJobby if you can land a McDreamy. And on shows like CSI and Without a Trace, criminal minds and motivations are interesting only insofar as they startle and titillate.
The article mentions All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show — both of which managed to be both entertaining and enlightening. And the TV movie An Early Frost (1985) “tackled AIDS long before Hollywood movies dared focus on it.” It does seem like the Big Three had some courage even in the money-grubbing ’80s — I remember watching My Two Loves (1986) with my eyebrows raised and my jaw dropped. In that little gem (co-written by Rita Mae Brown, believe it or not), Mariette Hartley and Lynn Redgrave made a rather nice couple. And even though I seem to remember Mariette freaking out a little, the movie overall was fairly gay-friendly.
Where’s our Archie Bunker or our Rhoda Morgenstern now? At least we have Tina Fey. (Um, not that she necessarily offers much in the way of social commentary. I just dig her.)