Monday, July 29, 2013

Honey, I'm Home!: Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream

1992, possibly first edition, from Grove Weidenfeld
Gerard Jones
Honey, I'm Home!: Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream
Original price $24.95, purchase price $12.95
Hardcover in good condition

Jones traces sitcoms from the days of radio, including Fibber McGee & Molly, to Fox series like Married...with Children.  He's insightful and witty, as with the subtexts of Bewitched, but he unfortunately spends little time on the decade or so before this book came out.  Yes, there's some on Family Ties and Cheers (both of which began in '82), and The Cosby Show and Who's the Boss? (both starting in '84), but compared to how detailed he is with the '50s (he was born in '57), it feels unbalanced.  He can spare only a couple sentences for Roseanne, which I believe was the most important sitcom of the '90s.

Ironically, at the same time this book came out, its almost namesake series Hi Honey, I'm Home! was airing on Nickelodeon.  HHIH in some ways anticipated Pleasantville and The Brady Bunch movies from later in the '90s, with a trapped-in-the-'50s sitcom family interacting with a modern family.  (Admittedly, the situation is turned inside out in Pleasantville.)  The program was co-written by Rick Mitz, whose The Great TV Sitcom Book Jones quotes.  I read it years ago but never owned it.  From what I recall, his perspective was much less sociopolitical than Jones's contention that sitcoms serve as a way of making people reconciled to society and thus more susceptible to advertising.

This copy came with two form letters addressed to a radio station that Jones's publicist was trying to get him on.  "As Jones reminds us, the sitcoms make us laugh not only in order to entertain, but also to defuse social tension--and above all to sell the sponsor's product."  Considering he was hoping to appear on KABC-AM, I can't help wondering how much if any of that message got across on the air.

No comments:

Post a Comment