Using Laughter to Discuss Controversy : The return of All in the Family & the Jeffersons

I am excited to see live television revamp itself, by resurrecting two nostalgic and controversial shows during the seventies and eighties. Two nights ago ABC went live and aired a remake of, "All In the Family" and the "Jeffersons." Thanks to the genius of writer/producer Norman Lear, who is now ninety-seven years old, Americans began to confront diversity by being entertained. These television sitcoms provided a platform to express unfiltered dialouge about uncomfortable yet relevant issues in society such as politics, racism, feminism, and interracial marriages.

I thought telling my son about the shows that were aired when I was a child would be a simply a history lesson. History has undoubtedly repeated itself...ain't nothin' really changed...we have not overcome. Ever since the political campaign of 2015, we have shifted back to the past dealing with disputable topics we have yet learn to conquer in our society. So here we are again, searching for clarity, calm, and understanding of modern tensions by using laughter to educate.

I enjoyed watching the television programs. I must admit, from my viewpoint, I kept score of how well the actors portrayed the original characters, since these shows were on prime time television when I was a child. For a new generation, I am hoping they found it enlightening. It was simple brilliance to use the scripts from the original television show, including the ”N” word and ”Honky,” the ”H” and bleeping it out because actually a few things have changed, such as censorship.

I’m not writing to critique the performance of the remakes but to point out that history and the study of our culture assists us in comprehending our society from different points of view. What I’ve learned from observing a repeated cycle of events in America is that our mistakes will repeat themselves until we learn the lessons that need to be taught.



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