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

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9780312088101: Honey, I'm Home!: Sitcoms: Selling The American Dream

Gerard Jones's Honey, I'm Home! has been widely acclaimed as the premier primer on America's Morality Plays--the TV situation comedies that have chained us to our Barcaloungers ever since Lucy first bawled her way into our hearts. Recalling the best and worst the sitcoms have had to offer, Jones recreates their atmosphere and their times with wisdom and style; paralleling the memory-lane trip is his shrewd and provocative assessment of the sitcom's influence on modern society. From Father Knows Best to Married...with Children, from the empty calories of The Brady Bunch to the social commentary of All in the Family, Honey, I'm Home! is a connoisseur's guide to the sitcom world--where everybody knows your name, and any problem can be solved in twenty-two minutes, plus commercials.

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From the Author:

I'm still very pleased with this book, and am happy to recommend it to anyone interested in mass media and its place in our culture. But I've learned a lot since, as both a creator and a critic of popular culture, and encourage readers to keep an eye out for my next book, "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy Games, Superheroes, and Make-Believe Violence" (Basic Books, Feb. 2002).

From Kirkus Reviews:

An I Love Lucy to Cheers run-through of sitcom as both product and ``foggy'' mirror of our corporate culture, by the coauthor of The Beaver Papers and The Comic Book Heroes (neither reviewed). Jones considers situation comedies over the past four decades against a broad-brushed cultural setting, arguing that sitcom ``ideals''--particularly the ``consensual solution''--are those ``on which modern bureaucratic business and government are founded.'' ``The most successful,'' he claims, possess ``a particularly shrewd insight into the concerns of the vast American public.'' Jones champions the pioneering 1951 Lucy and its ``theater of battle'' (``the mad housewife,'' he says, ``never favored the `corporate' resolutions''), and rails against the artificial, sugary, suburban moral lesson of Father Knows Best. That show and some of its many imitators (e.g., Bachelor Father, Leave it to Beaver, and The Dick Van Dyke Show) he calls ``strangely seductive horrors,'' ``products of profound national confusion masquerading as confidence.'' As Jones analyzes the premises and plots of Dobie Gillis, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Maude, etc., he also offers such interesting TV facts as that, in both 1968 and 1969, the networks passed up All in the Family--which, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, abandoned ``postwar optimism.'' Jones is at his best when homing in on what makes particular shows and characters tick--pinpointing The Honeymooners' ``venom of a frustrated Brooklyn blue-collar marriage,'' or Leave It To Beaver's ``funniest and sharpest creation'': the ``pathetically ridiculous'' Eddie Haskell. But the author is less convincing when he sees ``the rebellious currents....hinted at'' by Eddie as forerunners to SDS and a ``nascent women's liberation movement.'' In early 1991, Jones notes, Cheers, that clubhouse ``for the alienated,'' still held its own against the ``feel-good'' Cosby show. Competent but uneven, and perhaps overly demanding of the most popular form of American TV as sociological oracle. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Gerard Jones
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